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What productions of "Coppelia" have you seen?

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#1 Alexandra


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Posted 16 May 2001 - 12:41 AM

Which companies? Choreographers/directors? Were they traditional productions? Any little quirks? Good, bad, indifferent?

#2 Juliet


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Posted 16 May 2001 - 09:05 AM

I think the prettiest production done now is NYCB's. It looks like a children's picture book and is all-around tasty.

I like some of the costumes from Vinogradov's Coppelia, but overall, it is too visually fussy.

I have not seen the recent Australian Ballet video, so can't comment on that one--but most of the other ones I have seen are rather
lackluster, including ABT's (but perhaps that is because I always *expect* that one to be wonderfully danced, even if the production looks tired.) Last time I saw it, it wasn't wonderfully danced, alas....

Has anyone seen Royal Ballet's recently? The pictures look wonderfully vibrant, but I've not seen it live....

#3 Alexandra


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Posted 16 May 2001 - 02:25 PM

I haven't seen many "Coppelias." I hated it when I was younger and avoided it until I started writing, when I had to see it, but still didn't seek out performances. I saw Kirkland do this, with Baryshnikov, and don't remember a thing.

So, ABT's (I do remember Fracci's, largely because I was curious as to how such a great Giselle would fare in a comedy; she was lovely.)

National Ballet of Canada's with Nureyev and an assortment of partners -- he was exactly like Colas, as I remember it.

New York City Ballet's, which I do like very much (McBride; Muriel Aasen, a Disappeared Dancer who was quite promising in the mid-1970s; my programs tell me Ashley, but I don't remember her either).

The production that made me love the ballet was the Danish one, the polar opposite of NYCB's -- masculine as opposed to feminine, character as opposed to classical. Only Swanhilda is on pointe. Everyone else is in boots. Even Frantz is a character hero. There is no divertissement of the bells in the last act, but the most extraordinary, spirited czardas, even in the early 1990s, I have ever seen -- that ever-present band of gypsies that roamed the hedgerows of 19th century ballet pops in and seems to seduce everyone on stage, including Frantz, but we already know about him....

The Danes had a ballerina tradition in this role that stretched through the century. In each generation there were two ballerinas: one was the Sylph, and one was Swanhilda. The last were Heidi Ryom (who was a very good Swanhilda, very light, very curious, and with a good heart) and Lis Jeppesen (sweet and heartless, and absolutely wonderful). The production was ruined after Hans Brenaa died. The last I saw it, it was coarse, the fun bled out of it. It was done so incessantly in the 1990s that everyone grew tired of it, and it hasn't been in repertory since 1994, I think.

#4 BalletNut


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Posted 16 May 2001 - 06:22 PM

The Australian video, with Lisa Pavane and Greg Horsman is IMO probably the best one available, and the production is solid in most respects, with lovely scenery. As to the costumes, sometimes it looks as though the designer couldn't make up his mind whether to have short classical tutus or long Romantic ones, and settled on something in between. ;) They're still very pretty, though, and overall, if you want a Coppelia video, this is by far the best one to get.

[ 05-16-2001: Message edited by: BalletNut ]

#5 Terry


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Posted 16 May 2001 - 09:01 PM

I always thought Roland Petit's was so creative. I really enjoyed his waltz scene with Swanilda.

#6 mussel


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Posted 16 May 2001 - 09:31 PM

As a late comer to the ballet world, the only Coppelia I saw was NYCB/Balanchine's production last spring season. I like the act III divertisments of pure dances better than the narrative 1st act. It's a pure joy to see Balanchine's signature speed in full display.

Does anyone know which productions are available on DVD?

#7 Victoria Leigh

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Posted 16 May 2001 - 10:08 PM

Coppelia was the very first ballet I ever saw, and it was when I was about 9 or 10 years old I think. It was the Sadler's Wells Ballet, and I believe that the Swanhilda was Elaine Fifield. I really don't remember much about the production except that I was totally enchanted with it :)

#8 Estelle


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Posted 17 May 2001 - 11:40 AM

I've seen it for the first time a few weeks ago at the Paris Opera, danced by the POB school. It was a production by Pierre Lacotte after Albert Aveline.

By the way, here are the performances and productions which took place at the Paris Opera:
-first performance on May 25, 1870
-danced again in 1875, 1879, 1882 and 1885 in a production adapted by Louis Merante (with Leontine Beaugrand and Julia Subra)
-in 1899 and 1911 in a production by Joseph Hansen (with Emma Sandrini, Aida Boni, Carlotta Zambelli)
-in 1936 in a production by Albert Aveline (with Camille Bos), and again in 1941 with Solange Schwarz, and then Lycette Darsonval, Christiane Vaussard, Yvette Chauvire, Micheline Bardin (who danced Swanilda after dancing Frantz a few years before!)
-in 1966 in a "modernized" production by Michel Descombey (with Claude Bessy)
-in 1973 in a production by Pierre Lacotte (with Ghislaine Thesmar, Noella Pontois, Christiane Vlasssi). It was danced again in 1978-79-80 (with Wilfride Piollet, Dominique Khalfouni, Claude de Vulpian) and then in 1983 and 1991 (Vulpian again, Monique Loudieres, Francoise Legree, Elisabeth Maurin, Karin Averty)
-in 1996 in a version of Patrice Bart.

#9 rkoretzky


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Posted 25 May 2001 - 06:30 PM

I've seen the NYCB version many, many times since 1978, and the Royal Ballet once, last year.

I much prefer the NYCB. In the Royal production the principals were Leanne Benjamin and Angel Corella. I was SO excited to see Corella, because I had seen him in La Bayadere at ABT, and in various things on TV. I thought he was an amazing dancer. But in the traditional Coppelia, Franz is given absolutely nothing to do! It was so disappointing to know that this fantastic danseur was on the stage, being wasted. Leanne Benjamin was a lovely Swanhilda BUT...

I saw Patricia McBride--many times. To my mind she is the gold standard for contemporary Swanhildas. I never saw Danilova, but I can only imagine how charming she must have been.

Patricia McBride was a delight in this role. Nichol Hlinka came close, after several years to grow into the part. They were so expressive--you knew every thought in their heads.

And in the NYCB version, Balanchine was kind to Frantz and gave him a few good solos. Helgi Tomasson, well, what can I say? In more recent times, I do like Damian Woetzel in this part. Damian is NOT my favorite (OK, please don't shoot me!). I prefer the elegant look of a Peter Boal or Nicolaj Hubbe to Damian's wildness and hot-dogging. But I think Frantz suits Damian perfectly, and he makes the most of the part.

#10 Mel Johnson

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Posted 03 June 2001 - 11:41 AM

Well, I've seen both the old Royal production and the Royal Danish version, but also have been in a production based on a version staged by Yugoslav ballet master Oskar Harmos, and learned, but never performed, bits of the old ABT production via Martha Mahr, who had learned her version from Alicia Alonso.

[ 06-03-2001: Message edited by: Mel Johnson ]

#11 Katharyn



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Posted 06 June 2001 - 02:58 AM

I've seen the 'updated Aussie' Coppelia, choreographed by Chrissie Parrot and performed by West Australian Ballet.
Most thought it was clever and amusing, I thought it was tacky, repetitive and shallow, consisting of lots of strutting - which is all I really remember of it. Particularly cringe-worthy was the wedding scene which was set -sigh- at an Aussie barbeque, complete with drunken bridesmaids.

I own the Aust Ballets "Coppelia" which is sweet, but I can't really judge it until I've seen more Coppelia's. I like Lisa Bolte's 'Prayer' because she really does look so serene and angelic. She's often miscast, but I think she's just lovely here.

[ 06-06-2001: Message edited by: Katharyn ]

#12 Alexandra


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Posted 06 June 2001 - 03:27 PM

I'm very fond of "cringeworthy," Katharyn. I may steal that sometime :)

#13 bobsey



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Posted 07 June 2001 - 07:01 AM

I have Coppelia by Ballet de San Juan (PR) and it's better than you might think. Bujones is lively, as usual

#14 esperanto



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Posted 21 December 2004 - 12:07 PM

IYou reminded me of just how wonderful the Danish Coppelia was that I saw back in the '60's when they first came to NY. Frantz was Frederik Bjornson Swanhilda was Inge S. (I've forgotten the spellings and the names) but it was really great

#15 esperanto



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Posted 21 December 2004 - 12:11 PM

I always thought Roland Petit's was so creative. I really enjoyed his waltz scene with Swanilda.


Tery: I also saw Petit's Coppelia (on TV) with Karen Kain. As you say it was very inventive. It took a little getting used to as it looked like Franc0-Prussian era. He did some wonderful things especially in Act II. His steps for himself were amazing. I've since tried finding it on video but no success. Is it available?

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