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I have tickets for three Coppelias. I love this ballet, and miss it terribly from my days in Havana.  There it was done in a very regular basis, just as Giselle.  I have never seen Balanchine's version.  What should I expect...? I am very excited!

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Balanchine's Coppelia is very traditional, especially in the first two acts. He and Alexandra Danilova reconstructed it from memory. The third act is re-choreographed but not re-structured: there are still divertissements and the wedding of Swanilda and Franz. Very unusual for Balanchine he actually added a variation for Franz. 

Some YT clips:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uqqKfGbzPg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IysxWx631ok

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIGwSkvvADs

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Posted (edited)
28 minutes ago, canbelto said:

Very unusual for Balanchine he actually added a variation for Franz. 

Hmm, it doesn't seem very unusual to me. He did the same thing in Swan Lake. Balanchine seems to have been a bit more interested in male virtuosity than Petipa; he was choreographing for Tomasson; and Saint-Léon created Franz as a role en travesti, so filling in that gap (actually two gaps — a variation each in Acts I and III, I believe) probably seemed a quite natural move.

Great clips. McBride, who created Balanchine's Swanilda, has coached at least some of the lead dancers for this run.

 

Edited by nanushka

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Except for the male solo in the first act -- created for Helgi Tomasson -- the first two acts we created from Balanchine's memories from the Mariinsky and especially Danilova's memories from the version she danced with the Ballet Russe as the Swanhilda of her time, filled in by Balanchine.  Those acts are both very Swanhilda-centric, including her interplay with Franz and Dr. Coppelius.  It's the basic story:  Act I is the set-up, with Franz courting Coppelia, Swanhilda's nose out of joint, Dr. Coppelius creating a doll he thinks he can bring to life, the group dances, Swanhilda's friends, ending with the boys roughing up Dr. Coppelius leaving Swanhilda and friends to find the key to the studio.  Act II is the break-in to Dr. Coppelius' house, a few of his other dolls, Dr. Coppelius casting a spell to make his doll come alive -- the spell music is amazing -- Swanhilda's impersonation of the doll, Franz's arrival, and the sham exposed.  

Act III is a Balanchine original.  It's the wedding day for all of the young couples: they show up in the square and the mayor gives them a sack of coin to start their new lives.  Dr. Coppelius enters with his worse-for-wear doll and the mayor gives him a sack of gold.  Solos for Dawn, Spinner, and Prayer, and the Dance of the Hours for a soloist and a corps of young girls for all variations.  The War and Discord Divertissement, which always reminds me of the retired guys who wore togas and sandals and handed out flyers to Caesar's Palace: it's like Mel Brooks does Vegas.  Pas de deux is music Balanchine lifted from "Sylvia" and which he'd used before.  Big ending.

There are some short videos that may give you a taste:

These are short clips from PNB's co-production with San Francisco Ballet; the costumes and sets you see will be different.  Spinner is in the black and white dress.

 

This is a terrific video from San Francisco Ballet with thoughts from Judith Fugate, who staged the work for SFB and PNB -- a fantastic Swanhilda at NYCB in her time -- and some of the Principal Dancers:

 

 

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I just got back from tonight's performance of Coppelia, and imho, Tiler Peck is a goddess.   Her dancing is just beautiful - confident and secure, even with the most difficult steps, and utterly joyous.  I was so happy I got to see her in this role.  I thought it was a really special night.  I also thoroughly enjoyed De Luz as Franz.  I sometimes find NYCB men  a little dull especially in comparison with the women, but he was very exciting.  My only quibbles were with the male dancer in the War / Discord, who I thought was a little sloppy, and, yes I know this is totally silly, but Swanhilde's skirt in Act I!  It looked like a 70's curtain in bright pink with one hideous ruffle at the bottom.  It is a crime to put a beautiful dancer like Tiler Peck in that wildly unflattering skirt, and it made it harder for me to imagine her as Swanhilde because the skirt was so obviously a costume, and a cheap looking one at that.  But overall, a wonderful evening.

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Tiler Peck's upper body was a little tense at moments especially in the first Act- although one does not go to NYCB to see the best epaulement. Her footworks were exquisite as always and her acting was so way better than last time I saw her in the same ballet(including her miming). Overall, a very good performance. Watching his performances, I can't believe de Luz will be retiring soon. I saw almost all of his performances during the Robbins festival and I still want to see more of his dancing!(his bittersweet smile at the end of his last DAAG made me shed some tears!) Speaking of epaulement, he always has relaxed shoulders unlike many of the NYCB dancers. 

Regarding the corp dancing- all corp members had different musical timing which made me think they lacked rehearsal time. Each individual executed steps nicely and non of them made any visible mistakes but they were all over the place at the same time. 

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Last night was a delight. Tiler Peck is obviously in her prime and delivers every time. De Luz is in better form than last Spring. I always trusted his commitment to acting and his stage presence suits this role very well, but it was the air in his jumps/precision in his turns that surprised me. Apart from the usual highlights, I love the brief adagio passage in the 1st act where Franz briefly and lightly partnered Swanhilda when she was holding that golden wheat strand.

As to the ballet itself, the music is so lovely and suited to dancing, as well as to comedic storytelling. The miming can be hard to read in full clarity (someone sitting behind me did not get it at all, presumably having not read the synopsis.) I felt the First Act character dance was a little too long, and I concur that Peter Walker was somewhat unsure in his execution in the 3rd Act, which made Discord and War feel more tonally out of place. 

I do wonder how much we should feel sympathy for Dr. Coppelius. I did feel for him at the end of the second act and I felt Swanhilda and Franz could have been kinder to him throughout. And I read in the Lincoln Kirstein program notes that he is supposed to be a "quasi-tragic" figure, a creative-genius type of individual mocked by the local philistines. But the joyful and radiant 3rd act almost made the audience forget whatever sympathy they might have felt prior. That moment when he came on stage to air his grievances to the Mayor at the start of the 3rd act did not register much, which I thought could have been acted with more thought and layers of emotions. 

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30 minutes ago, bcash said:

I do wonder how much we should feel sympathy for Dr. Coppelius. I did feel for him at the end of the second act and I felt Swanhilda and Franz could have been kinder to him throughout. And I read in the Lincoln Kirstein program notes that he is supposed to be a "quasi-tragic" figure, a creative-genius type of individual mocked by the local philistines. But the joyful and radiant 3rd act almost made the audience forget whatever sympathy they might have felt prior. That moment when he came on stage to air his grievances to the Mayor at the start of the 3rd act did not register much, which I thought could have been acted with more thought and layers of emotions. 

It's very difficult to establish anything dramatically in that time, particularly since it's an active moment, with no chance for a meaningful pause, a sad glance, or dignity.  Whether the audience reacts in the same philistine way as the locals is a combination of what the dancer has established in the first two acts, especially where he sells his soul and/or psyche to conjure that spell, reflected so perfectly in the music, and the audiences themselves, especially as they anticipation of the wedding celebration free of eccentricity.

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In some Coppelias, the Doctor is present at the wedding and Swanhilda apologizes to him, which I think works very well, as it includes him and shows that Swanhilda has changed.  ABT does it that way, as I recall, and they use a version set by Freddie Franklin, who knew an older version.  I have never seen the Royal Ballet's version, which was based one set by Sergeyev, so I don't know if that happens, but it should!  

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Posted (edited)

In London I saw Osipova perform Swanilda's final glance towards a saddened Coppelius making his Act III exit in two different ways in the course of two performances within the same week. (This was the Bolshoi/Vikharev production.) Once she sort of gave a shrug and semi-rolled her eyes--I have forgotten the exact gesture but showing clearly that Swanilda still had no great sympathy for him and found him rather absurd--and once looking after him with tender compassion. The Coppelius was the same in both performances, thought the Franz was different. I was intrigued that she made different choices on different nights, but I would have said she was very "present," very "in-the-moment" throughout those performances.

Edited by Drew

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Posted (edited)

I Cuba Coppelius shows up in the wedding furious, but he's given money to compensate for his broken doll and he leaves in good spirit. People bid him farewell in a good way.

Edited by cubanmiamiboy

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Posted (edited)

Today’s matinee was my first NYCB Coppelia. First, Hyltin was absolutely delightful throughout — great miming and detailed acting. I never really think of her as a cutesy dancer, but she was absolutely adorable this afternoon. Of course, her dancing was superb from a technical standpoint. I actually very much liked her costume for Acts I and II — the teal velvet bodice and gauzy pink skirt looked great together. Maybe they could have figured out a different treatment for the skirt’s hem (some simple embroidery rather than the ruffle?), but the ruffle didn’t bother me at all. 

Swanilda’s friends looked so sloppy in Act I. (It looked like a bad day at ABT.) They were frequently out of sync, with legs at wildly different angles/heights. The part where they all leap downstage with Coppelia was marred by lots of wobbly legs.

My eye kept being drawn to Claire Kretzschmar, partnered by Alec Knight, in the folk dances. She was dancing with such verve and joy.

Veyette was boyish and charming and just about everything you’d want in Frantz from a characterization standpoint. But you could tell all is not well when he danced his Act I variation. His leaps were so effortful and heavy-looking, and his upper body looked so stiff in the leaps. But he got through the choreography with no mishaps. You just sort of get the sense he is muscling his way through it. He looked more relaxed in Act III, and got through the choreography, though some elements, such as the double tours, looked very sloppy. He was an excellent partner to Hyltin throughout. The adagio was lovely, thought Hyltin’s arm looked unnervingly shaky in some of those tricky promenades and other moments. She was on fire in her variation — which included a lightning-fast manege — and the coda. She got a huge response from the audience, whereas Veyette, who didn’t really meet the bravura requirements of this role, did not. 

Ashley Hodd looked great in War and Discord. She has some sort of undefinable quality that really draws me to her. Christopher Grant gave the role a lot of gusto, but his dancing is seriously lacking in refinement.

Of Dawn, Prayer and Spinner, Lydia Wellington as Prayer was probably my favorite, though the variation itself is so incredible. Meagan Mann had some issues with the hops on pointe as Spinner but she managed to cover it up well. She certainly looks glamorous onstage. I’d like to see more Dawn variations before I judge LeCrone. Nothing about her dancing seemed to evoke the gentleness of dawn.

The SAB girls were amazing! I had no idea they’d be onstage so much, and that moment when they run downstage during the fish dive is so exciting. Boy did Balanchine know how the choreograph a razzle-dazzle finale.

Edited by fondoffouettes

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Posted (edited)

It looks like Joseph Gordon will do justice to the male solos in Coppelia. In Veyette's performance, I was really missing the articulation of the bouncy steps between the double tours.

 

Edited by fondoffouettes

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I never worried about Gordon being able to pull off the solos.  I'm more concerned about the difficult partnering in the final act.

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I am SO glad I skipped Bayadere tonight to see Coppelia. More to come, but Ashley Bouder OWNED the role, particularly during the doll sequences. Joseph Gordon was a much reliable partner for her tonight.

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I agree that last night Coppelia was a delight, and brought out a funny, charming side of Ashley Bouder that I don't often associate with her. Gordon's partnering was fine and he too was a delightful Franz. Olivia Boisson was an amazing Prayer. Stunning beauty. And those 24 SAB girls -- the corps patterns and formations Balanchine made for them are amazing in their intricacy. Couldn't believe how well they handled all the steps. This has been a wonderful spring season. first with the Robbins festival and then the Coppelias.

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12 hours ago, cubanmiamiboy said:

I am SO glad I skipped Bayadere tonight to see Coppelia.

2 Petipa ballets performing at the same time, only in New York, and in St. Petersburg (may be Moscow too). Tonight there will be 3 Petipa ballets in the metro area with Ukraine's DQ in Newark, kind of an  unplanned commemoration of Petipa bicentennial.

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I also enjoyed Coppelia last night. This is a ballet I have never warmed up too, finding it an awkward combination of precious and mean-spirited (in the attitude of the characters, and of the librettist, to Coppelius).  I probably would not have attended if I hadn't had to swap a subscription ticket fairly late in the season and this was all I could get. Wound up appreciating it more than expected. Was glad to see  Ashley Bouder, and Joseph Gordon in his debut. Bouder, needless to say, was utterly in control of the dancing, and has a charming comic manner, but her acting is one-note, and that note is Ashley Bouder. Joseph Gordon looked terrific, a convincing young lover, full of youthful joy and verve his solos, and a confident partner. Partnering seems to be a skill that's slow to develop. Young dancers often look visibly anxious about partnering, then they get to where they look reliable and in control. Finally, hopefully, they get into partnering as an art form, looking happy to be partnering, noble, proud of their ability to handle the ballerina and proud to present her. I love this. Gordon is getting there. Amen. Bouder looked particularly pleased with him at the curtain call. As for the rest... Swanilda's friends looked under-rehearsed, out of sync, with some struggling to keep up with the music and others leaping ahead of it. Also, the children were a little ragged, with sloppy formations and mis-matched timing. I'm used to seeing better preparation in the Nutcracker kids, but maybe they get more practice with so many performances. Mary Elizabeth Sell was a fine Dawn, with a grand sweep and lovely flow. We don't see enough of her in solo roles. Olivia Boisson was a lovely Prayer. I sometimes find her lacking in authority and that her presence does not project well, but she looked wonderful here. Baily Jones and Sara Adams both looked excellent as well in their solos. 

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13 minutes ago, mussel said:

2 Petipa ballets performing at the same time, only in New York, and in St. Petersburg (may be Moscow too). Tonight there will be 3 Petipa ballets in the metro area with Ukraine's DQ in Newark, kind of an  unplanned commemoration of Petipa bicentennial.

This coming week London will have the Royal Ballet in Swan Lake at the Royal Opera House and the English National Ballet in Sleeping Beauty at the Coliseum (with Cojocaru and Alexandrova among other Auroras) .... so occasionally stars align in several cities....

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I'm looking forward to seeing Bouder and Gordon in this evening. Sadly it seeems like the corp haven't made any improvement since last Friday when I saw them. Sigh. 

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At the matinee right now, and Erica Pereira has been delightful. Such a tiny, little thing...😍

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Posted (edited)

Erica Pereira & Anthony Huxley were  simply magnificent as Swanilda and Franz this afternoon! The audience could barely contain itself during her solos. Such beautiful natural (unforced and contrived) phrasing! Erica is a breath of fresh air. I was also very impressed with Emilie Gerrity’s Prayer solo. Sublime adagio dancer! I also loved the well-rehearsed kids in A3. Now a short break before tonight’s SAB workshop.

Edited by CharlieH

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1 hour ago, cubanmiamiboy said:

At the matinee right now, and Erica Pereira has been delightful. Such a tiny, little thing...😍

She reminds me a lot of Xiomara Reyes in this role. Unforced charm, great technique & lovely lines, despite petite stature.

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