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John-Michael

royal danish ballet's coppelia

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I read somewhere that the Royal Danish Ballet has an 1897 version of Coppelia that's a bit unusual... much more mime and character dancing and a more gothick approach to the story (something that I think would actually work considering the questionable behavior of the characters... necromancy, house-breaking, property damage, and intense thoughtlessness at best and mental cruelty at worst). Has anyone seen it or can give me more info on it? Does any of the choreography have any basis in Saint-Leon or Cechetti/Ivanov? Thanks!

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Yes, it's very different -- or was. I don't think they've done it since 1994 and after Hans Brenaa died in 1988, the performances became rather coarse, but before that, it was a marvel.

It was changed by Hans Beck almost as soon as the company acquired it -- no travesty role Franz for the Danes! Swanilda is the only dancer on pointe, and nearly all the characters in it are bad-tempered, or selfish, or otherwise less than ideal. There is lots of character dancing -- Franz is in boots. When I saw it in the early 1980s, the conducting was extraordinarily masculine and robust -- you could really hear the Hungarian colors in the score.

It was televised in the early 1980s, but as far as I, it's never been released.

Bruce Marks staged the production for Boston Ballet during his tenure there. I don't know of any other producitons (but that doesn't mean there aren't any).

What's really interesting is how close the second act is to other second acts. This is mime that lasts (pace Denby).

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Arlene Croce wrote about the RDB's Coppelia and the piece is reprinted in one of her collections (After-Images, pp. 316-319). She describes how the production is different from more "traditional" productions. Worth reading.

As a side note, I think the Kent Nagano recording with the Orchestre de L'Opera de Lyon is ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT - actually life-changing with regard to my view of Delibes (sorry so OTT). In my opinion, the hands-down best recording available of Coppelia. It's on Erato 4509-91730-2.

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Was Franzt a travesty role before '94 and was Swanhilda the only point role in the 3rd act?

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J-M, sorry -- yes, Frantz/Franz was a travesty role in the original production (1870) and at the Paris Opera until around 1960, I believe. (It was the fashion of the times.)

In Copenhagen, Franz was always danced by a man. I don't know for certain that Swanilda was the only pointe role (in Copenhagen) but my best guess is that it was. In the Paris 1870 production, there were many variations. So many, in fact, that Saint-Leon was asked to trim them, and when the ballet was revived after the Franco-Prussian War, in the late 1870s, the third act, with the divertissement of the bells, was cut.

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J-M, sorry -- yes, Frantz/Franz was a travesty role in the original production (1870) and at the Paris Opera until around 1960, I believe. (It was the fashion of the times.)

In Copenhagen, Franz was always danced by a man. I don't know for certain that Swanilda was the only pointe role (in Copenhagen) but my best guess is that it was. In the Paris 1870 production, there were many variations. So many, in fact, that Saint-Leon was asked to trim them, and when the ballet was revived after the Franco-Prussian War, in the late 1870s, the third act, with the divertissement of the bells, was cut.

From what I remember Franz was danced y Fredrik Bjornson (don't remember the spelling) in NY whenn they first danced there in '60's (?)

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