Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

DVD Review
Ballet: Coppélia (ou La Fille aux yeux d'émail)
Swanilda ………………Irina Shapchits
Franz………………… Mikhail Zavialov
Coppelius…………… Petr Rusanov
Spanish Doll………….. Marina Abdullayeva
Scottish Doll.………….Irina Guseva
Chinese Doll…………. Albert Miroyan
Nutcracker…………….Alexander Sapogov
The Kirov Ballet
Maryinsky Theatre Orchestra conducted by Alexandre Viliumanis
WARNER MUSIC VISION / NVC ARTS 4509-94190-2 [91 mins]
There is a CD-ROM content with a commentary on the ballet by Harlow Robinson.
Amazon UK £18.99

It is often forgotten that Delibes wrote only three ballets (the other two were Sylvia and La Source, ou Naïla) but more than twenty operatic works (including the exotic Lakmé) yet he is mainly remembered for this sparkling romantic-comedy ballet. Coppélia has been a firm favourite of balletomanes since it's acclaimed premiere in Paris in 1870. Delibes and his collaborator, Arthur Saint-Léon, drew on several Hoffmann stories particularly Der Sandman that involved a mysterious inventor who could make his toys come to life. But as Jacques Offenbach's adaptation was somewhat tragic, so Delibes opted for a less serious, more frothy and popular approach, with a happy ending.

Coppélia is Coppelius's lifelike toy doll who attracts Franz to the dismay of his fiancée, Swanilda. She, with her friends, enterprisingly steals into Coppelius's workshop and discovers the truth that Coppélia is just a doll. Whilst they are there they discover other dolls who dance characteristically: a Chinese doll with typical Chinese style music and movements, a Spanish doll who has a proud and haughty dance, a Scottish doll with fierce, wild movements brandishing daggers in each hand and a contortionist of a nutcracker toy soldier. (All these dances are performed with great spirit and élan and are fully in character. They are a highlight of the Second Scene of Act I). Then a drunken Franz enters with Coppelius who tries to divert his attention from Coppélia by showing him his other dolls. But to no avail: Franz is set on Coppélia who he discovers sitting behind a screen. But it is really Swanilda disguised as Coppélia and when he discovers his mistake Franz is duly remorseful but Swanilda and her friends are inclined to be unforgiving. The second Act story is really very slight. Everybody in the village is on the green celebrating the blessing of a new bell. After a lot of persuading Swanilda and Franz are reunited and married but, at the end, she plays a little joke on him changing places with the doll, Coppélia, once more, to rub in Franz's lesson.

The world famous Kirov Ballet does not disappoint. The very first dance by a very smooth and fluid Coppelius sets the standard. The principals are excellent: technically polished and beautifully in character. The ensemble dancing of the corps de ballet seems well-nigh faultless. All the Act II set dances, so many with national overtones (mazurka and csárdás) impress. The set design is imaginative and the costumes colourfully romantic. And the music, so popular and brimming with memorable melodies, is exuberantly performed by the Maryinsky Theatre Orchestra. DVD sound has wide dynamics and perspectives and the visuals are crystal clear.

Harlow Robinson's article about the history of the ballet, printable from the CD-ROM element, is useful and informative. A vivacious entertainment.

Ian Lace

Reviews from previous months

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers : - The UK's Biggest Video Store

Concert and Show tickets


Musicians accessories

Click here to visit

Return to Index