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Setting & sources


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#1 pas de chat

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Posted 01 November 2006 - 09:14 AM

I am currently looking at Coppelia as a theatre design exercise. I would be very grateful if anyone can tell me about any traditions for it's location and period setting. I would also be interested generally in any sources of research information.

I came across one website that mentioned Olympia, Poland?? My DVD of the Royal Ballet's production mentions something like a non specfic East European location that's a generalised 'ballet-land'. I'll need to think about the period style of architecture. The Kirov production costumes used wigs to good effect and key periods of skill and popularity with automata would be nice. I have found sites for automata history.

#2 rg

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Posted 07 November 2006 - 06:35 AM

the balanchine/danilova staging of COPPELIA at nycb - from 1974 - is set in Galicia.
act 1 is described thus: A Village Square in Galicia.
various books dwelling on the era of the ballet's 1870 premiere by ivor guest include illustrations of the first production.

#3 carbro

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Posted 07 November 2006 - 10:06 AM

Coppelia is based on ETA Hoffmann's story, "The Girl with the Enamel Eyes." If you can find that, it may give a locale.

#4 pas de chat

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Posted 07 November 2006 - 11:23 AM

Thank youCarbro! I'm keeping an eye out for it, and will let you know how I get on here.

#5 pas de chat

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Posted 07 November 2006 - 11:25 AM

Not what I was expecting and interesting! - THANK YOU RG!


and I've just found a website!

http://www.turgalici...on/cidade_i.htm

#6 Mel Johnson

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Posted 07 November 2006 - 02:20 PM

Wrong Galicia. You want the one that used to be part of Austria-Hungary.

#7 volcanohunter

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Posted 07 November 2006 - 02:24 PM

Careful! There are two Galicias in Europe. One is in Spain, the other straddles Poland and Ukraine. It's the second one you're after as Coppelia is most certainly set in central Europe. Galicia, known as Galicja in Polish and Галичина (transliterated as Halychyna) in Ukrainian derives its name from the old town of Halych in western Ukraine. The main city in Western (Polish) Galicia is Kraków (though the city wasn't incorporated into Galicia until the late 18th century); the main city in Eastern (Ukrainian) Galicia is Lviv.

"Ballet Land" actually isn't a bad way to describe the setting. The music and costumes in most productions owe at least as much to Hungary as to Poland. The residents of this particular village are equally at home with the mazurka and csardas, so between them Delibes and Saint-Léon created a generalised central Europe. It's not unlike the ridiculous pastiche of Native American culture that MGM presented in Annie Get Your Gun.

#8 leonid

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Posted 07 November 2006 - 03:46 PM

I am currently looking at Coppelia as a theatre design exercise. I would be very grateful if anyone can tell me about any traditions for it's location and period setting. I would also be interested generally in any sources of research information.

I came across one website that mentioned Olympia, Poland?? My DVD of the Royal Ballet's production mentions something like a non specfic East European location that's a generalised 'ballet-land'. I'll need to think about the period style of architecture. The Kirov production costumes used wigs to good effect and key periods of skill and popularity with automata would be nice. I have found sites for automata history.


Automata was a source of interest for the French from the 18th century and were still in vogue at the time Coppelia was produced. The placing of this ballet in Galicia is commonplace. Though Polish in culture in the west and Ruthenian(Rusyn speaking) in the east, Galicia at the time of the ballet's premiere, had been part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire where German was the official language. The names Frantz and Swanhilda are German in origin. The name Coppelius like the basis of the ballet’s story is derived from the German author E.T.A. Hoffman’s “The Sandman” a rather dark tale if you want to read it which in turn finds resonance in the Pygmalion Galatea Greek Myth. Delibes music includes a Polish mazurka and a Hungarian czardas. But like many other 19th century ballets we must not take their supposed location too seriously. After all Coppelia includes music whose origins are far from Galicia and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. One thing has always puzzled me, is that such a sopisticated maker of automatons should be found in a rural farming community that much of historical Galicia was at the time of the premiere and before? If we we take any of the story seriously, with Coppellius dragging out the life blood and spirit of Frantz to animate Swanhilda perhaps it was a good place for a maker of dark deeds to hide among simple country folk? In the Hoffman story the character Coppelius relocates and .....now read the original story.

#9 Mel Johnson

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Posted 07 November 2006 - 08:16 PM

Leonid, wasn't there a production in London some years ago that placed the action in the early 20th century? I seem to recall the Lord and Lady of the Manor alighting from a vintage Mercedes! Up until then, there was no clear timeframe for the action.

#10 pas de chat

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Posted 08 November 2006 - 03:59 AM

Thank you so much everyone for this terrific information!

#11 leonid

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Posted 08 November 2006 - 05:06 AM

Leonid, wasn't there a production in London some years ago that placed the action in the early 20th century? I seem to recall the Lord and Lady of the Manor alighting from a vintage Mercedes! Up until then, there was no clear timeframe for the action.


This may have been in Matthew Bourne's production which I never saw. But Charles Jude's production for the Bordeaux Ballet had cars and was set in New York.

#12 Mel Johnson

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Posted 08 November 2006 - 04:20 PM

Oh, this would have been much longer ago than that. Circa 1970, I think. That programme got lost by the Air Force when I transferred back the the States. I wish I could remember more particulars, but I was seriously jet-lagged when I saw it. Festival Ballet, maybe. I know I was recovered when I saw the Royal then. The little joke, I suppose, was that country folk stay country folk despite what high society does. :)

(Definitely a country mouse, here! :angel_not: )

#13 bart

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Posted 08 November 2006 - 05:40 PM

Thanks for all that information. I was intrigued by one of leonid's references, and have just found this interview with Jude, who set his production in the US in the 1950s. It has several delightful photos.

http://www.cultureki...decoppelia.html

It concerns the visit of the National Ballet (Bordeax) to the Theatre du Chatelet in 2001.

Based on E. T. A. Hoffmann's macabre story, Der Sandmann, Jude's version conjures up New York in the 1950's, with its shiny chromium motor cars, fast food bars, sleek-haired Mafiosi and high-rise apartment blocks. Without changing a note of the music nor scarcely a detail of the story, Jude has set his ballet in the musical comedy world of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. It's not that the star dancer/director has 'rejuvenated' this most traditional of French ballets, premiered at the Paris Opera in 1870, but that he has created something entirely different, letting his fertile imagination and sense of fun run riot.

"I've just fulfilled my childhood fantasies", Jude told me over a grenadine at a pavement café overlooking the fountain at the Place du Chatelet. "I grew up in Vietnam where we were very pro-American and I was submerged in American culture which I loved. It's not a coincidence that the opening scene of Coppélia brings echoes of Jerome Robbins first choreography, Fancy Free (1944), which later became the musical On the Town. I've always been fascinated by the era of musical comedy which I dreamed of turning into classical ballet."

The DVD of Maguy Marin's version for the Lyon National Ballet -- the score drastically cut, and set in the present in a middle class urban apartment complex -- is available from Amazon. It's shot outdoors, and I rather liked it. It is certainly provides a change the usual unrealistically happy, peppy and over-dressed peasants (tomorrow night we do Act I of Giselle) one sees in traditional versions.


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