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Coppelia, 3-13

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Here's the press release for "Coppelia"; please note that there an extra matinee performance on second weekend Saturday:

June 3-13, 2010

Marion Oliver McCaw Hall

321 Mercer Street, Seattle Center

Seattle, WA 98109

June 3-5 at 7:30 pm

June 5 at 2:00 pm

June 10-12 at 7:30 pm

April 12 at 2:00 pm

April 13 at 1:00 pm

Special activities for children and families, including crafts and dance classes, begin one hour before all matinee performances. Children are invited to bring a special doll with them to matinee performances.

SEATTLE, WA – PNB concludes its 2009-2010 Season, and realizes a long-time dream of Artistic Director Peter Boal, with a beautiful new production of George Balanchine’s classic comic ballet, Coppélia. Based on Balanchine’s memories of the Russian Imperial Ballet production, and staged in close collaboration with the great dancer Alexandra Danilova, Coppélia has been called one of the happiest ballets in existence. Much of its lasting appeal may be attributed to a melodiously beautiful score by French composer Léo Delibes, legendary for his ability to illustrate dance atmosphere and action. For its new production, which is being co-produced with San Francisco Ballet, PNB has commissioned Italian scenic and costume designer Roberta Guidi di Bagno, whose enchanting conceptions were last admired by audiences of PNB’s The Merry Widow. Based on the book by Charles Nuitter, Coppélia is considered a triumphant masterpiece of characterization and comic timing. Enlightened by the wit and wisdom of George Balanchine, Coppélia offers absolute delight to ballet newcomers and families, as well as PNB’s most seasoned patrons. Coppélia runs for nine performances only, from June 3 to 13 at Seattle Center’s Marion Oliver McCaw Hall. Tickets may be purchased by calling the PNB Box Office at 206.441.2424, online at pnb.org, or in person at the PNB Box Office at 301 Mercer St.


Music: Léo Delibes (Coppélia, ou la Fille aux Yeux d'Émail, 1869–1870; with excerpts from Sylvia, ou la Nymphe de Diane, 1876, and La Source [Naïla], 1866)

Book: Charles Nuitter, after E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Der Sandmann, 1815

Choreography: Choreography by Alexandra Danilova and George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust (after Marius Petipa)

Staging: Judith Fugate and Garielle Whittle

Scenic and Costume Design: Roberta Guidi di Bagno

Lighting Design: Randall G. Chiarelli

Running Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Original Production Premiere: May 25, 1870; Paris Opera Ballet, choreography by Arthur Saint-Léon

Petipa Production Premiere: November 25, 1884, Imperial Ballet, St. Petersburg, choreography by Marius Petipa after Arthur Saint- Léon; revised 1894 by Enrico Cecchetti

Balanchine Production Premiere: July 17, 1974; New York City Ballet (Saratoga Springs, New York)

PNB Premiere

Drawn from ballet's Romantic period and informed by a 19th-century fascination with mechanical toys, Coppélia is the tale of cheerful young lovers, Swanilda and Franz, whose courtship is briefly interrupted when Doctor Coppelius, the village's eccentric inventor, creates a doll so life-like that Franz becomes infatuated. When her suitor attempts a clandestine rendezvous, Swanilda evens the score by dressing as the doll and pretending to come to life. Ultimately, the pair is reconciled, and Act III's effervescent wedding-day festivities offer an array of spectacular dances.

Coppélia marked the passing of ballet supremacy from France to Russia. Originally choreographed by Arthur St. Léon in Paris in 1870, it was restaged by Marius Petipa in St. Petersburg in 1884 and revised by Enrico Cecchetti in 1894. Little, if any, of St. Léon’s choreography remains in today’s production, although Acts I and II retain his ideas and the story of mischievous young lovers. Balanchine provided entirely new choreography for Act III.

Balanchine wrote, “In 1974, I decided we should stage Coppélia at the New York City Ballet and asked the ballerina and teacher Alexandra Danilova, celebrated for many years for her Swanilda, to collaborate with me on the choreography. I remember very well performances by the Russian Imperial Ballet of Coppélia and as a member of the company danced in the mazurka.

“I have often said that Delibes is one of my favorite composers for dance. In our new Coppélia, we used the entire score of the three-act version. The first dance drama of really uniform excellence deserves no less! No part of the ballet is subordinate to any other; most important of all, ballet music in Coppélia participates in the dance drama as never before, Delibes’ charming, melodic music assisting the plot and unifying the music and dance. Tchaikovsky was directly inspired by Delibes’ score to write his own ballet music. Delibes is the first great ballet composer; Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky are his successors.” [Program notes by Doug Fullington.]


Coppélia Seminar

Saturday, May 22, 2010, 3:00–5:30 pm

The Phelps Center, 301 Mercer Street, Seattle

PNB's new production of George Balanchine's
will be the focus of this seminar. Learn the history of
, the 19th-century’s best-loved comic ballet, and the classic French score by Léo Delibes, with its musical themes representing the ballet's characters. The seminar includes a preview glimpse at the production's sumptuous costume design and a rare look at some of the
choreography Balanchine remembered from his youth in St. Petersburg and how it informed his own version of the ballet. Tickets to this special event are $20 and may be purchased through the PNB Box Office.


Sunday, May 23, 2:00 pm

Elliott Bay Book Company, 1521 Tenth Avenue

PNB's Sunday afternoon series features an hour-long discussion about George Balanchine’s
with principal dancer Kaori Nakamura, and soloist Seth Orza in the Elliott Bay Book Company at their new Capitol Hill location. All Conversations with PNB are FREE of charge.


Tuesday, June 1, 12:00 noon

Central Seattle Public Library, 1000 Fourth Avenue, Seattle

Join PNB for a free lunchtime preview lecture at the Central Seattle Public Library. Education Programs Manager Doug Fullington will offer insights about George Balanchine’s
complete with video excerpts. FREE of charge.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Lecture 6:00-6:50 pm, Nesholm Family Lecture Hall at McCaw Hall

Dress Rehearsal 7:00-9:30 pm, McCaw Hall

Join Designer Roberta Guidi di Bagno and stager Judith Fugate for an engaging conversation during the hour preceding the dress rehearsal of George Balanchine’s
. Attend the lecture only or stay for the dress rehearsal. Tickets are $12 for the lecture, or $25 for the lecture and dress rehearsal. Tickets may be purchased by calling PNB at 206.441.2424, online at www.pnb.org or in person at the PNB Box Office at 301 Mercer Street.

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In this afternoon's post-performance Q&A, Jeffrey Stanton told us that he was going to perform Dr. Coppelius in the upcoming "Coppelia"! He spoke about how he was looking forward to the acting aspect of the role. This is great news!

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Just in, from a PNB press release:

SEATTLE, WA – Pacific Northwest Ballet’s artistic director, Peter Boal, has widely acknowledged that attending a New York City Ballet performance of the comic ballet Coppélia at the ripe young age of nine was what convinced him that he wanted to be a dancer. Eight years later he was a member of the NYCB corps de ballet in Coppélia. Eventually he rose to the rank of principal with the company and had the opportunity to dance Franz, the romantic male lead. Bringing a brand new production of George Balanchine’s Coppélia to the stage has been a dream of Mr. Boal’s since he took over the reins of PNB, and now with the opening night on June 3rd, he will go as far as one man can with the ballet: Dancing the role of eccentric toymaker Dr. Coppelius, whose life-like creation, the doll Coppélia, creates hilarious havoc between two young lovers.

Mr. Boal’s performance is just one of the leads that have been announced for the first week of PNB’s production of Coppélia. In addition to Mr. Boal as Dr. Coppelius, lead performers on opening night Thursday, June 3 at 7:30 pm include: principal dancer Kaori Nakamura as Swanilda, and principal dancer Jonathan Porretta as Franz. Opening weekend will also see the PNB Orchestra conducting Léo Delibes’ lively score under the baton of two guest conductors: At the opening night performance, the PNB Orchestra will be conducted by Nathan Fifield.

On Friday, June 4 at 7:30 pm, lead performers include: principal dancer Mara Vinson as Swanilda, soloist James Moore as Franz, and principal dancer Jeffrey Stanton as Dr. Coppelius. The PNB Orchestra will again be led by guest conductor Nathan Fifield. (This performance will be broadcast live on 98.1 Classical KING FM.)

For the Saturday, June 5, 2:00 pm matinee, lead performers include: principal dancer Kaori Nakamura as Swanilda, principal dancer Jonathan Porretta as Franz, and principal dancer Olivier Wevers as Dr. Coppelius. The PNB Orchestra will be led by guest conductor Emil de Cou.

At the Saturday, June 5, 7:30 pm performance, lead performers include: principal dancer Carla Körbes as Swanilda, soloist Seth Orza as Franz, and artistic director Peter Boal as Dr. Coppelius. The PNB Orchestra will again be conducted by Emil de Cou.

Complete casting for the first week’s (June 3 – 5) run of Coppélia will be posted online at pnb.org on Tuesday, May 25. Casting for the second week’s performances, June 10 – 13, will be posted online on May 31. Program and casting are always subject to change.

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And first week casting is posted on the website


It's just the big roles, but there's lots to think about.

There are more repeats in the 3rd act casting than I would have thought initially -- Rausch does Dawn three times and Eames dances Spinner three times as well. Vinson does Golden Hours twice and Swanhilda once, a busy girl.

Tisserand dances War to Dec's Discord on the Saturday matinee, while Reid does Spinner in the same performance.

And that's what I could get from the drop down menus. They still make me crazy

Second week's not up yet, but hopefully soon.

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Second week is scheduled to be up a week from Tuesday, according to the press release.

Here are the casts in list format:

Thursday, 3 June

Swanhilda: Kaori Nakamura*

Franz: Jonathan Porretta*

Dr. Coppelius: Peter Boal*

Waltz of the Golden Hours: Mara Vinson*

Dawn: Carrie Imler*

Prayer: Carla Körbes*

Spinner: Chalnessa Eames*

Discord and War: Ariana Lallone* /Batkhurel Bold*

Friday, 4 June

Swanhilda: Mara Vinson*

Franz: James Moore*

Dr. Coppelius: Jeffrey Stanton*

Waltz of the Golden Hours: Rachael Foster*

Dawn: Lesley Rausch*

Prayer: Kylee Kitchens*

Spinner: Chalnessa Eames

Discord and War: Carrie Imler* /Karel Cruz*

Saturday, 5 June matinee

Swanhilda: Kaori Nakamura

Franz: Jonathan Porretta

Dr. Coppelius: Olivier Wevers*

Waltz of the Golden Hours: Liora Reshef*

Dawn: Lesley Rausch

Prayer: Sarah Ricard Orza*

Spinner: Brittany Reid*

Discord and War: Lindsi Dec*/Jerome Tisserand*

Saturday, 5 June evening

Swanhilda:Carla Körbes*

Franz: Seth Orza*

Dr. Coppelius: Peter Boal

Waltz of the Golden Hours: Mara Vinson

Dawn: Lesley Rausch

Prayer: Kylee Kitchens

Spinner: Chalnessa Eames

Discord and War: Carrie Imler /Karel Cruz*

*Debut in role

From the Balanchine Catalogue, the original cast:

Swanilda/Coppélia, Patricia McBride

Frantz, Helgi Tomasson

Dr. Coppélius, Shaun O'Brien

Waltz of the Golden Hours: Marnee Morris

Dawn, Merrill Ashley

Prayer, Christine Redpath

Spinner, Susan Hendl

Discord and War: Colleen Neary, Robert Weiss

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Second week casting is out, at the usual spot.

Foster and Griffith dance the leads, and Jordan Pacitti dances Coppelius on the 10th and the 13th. Sarah Ricard Orza dances Dawn, Lindsi Dec dances Prayer, and Margaret Mullin dances Spinner on the 11th, and Kiyon Gaines gets a chance at War on the 13th.

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Here's the daily cast list:

Thursday, 10 Jun

Swanhilda:: Rachel Foster*

Franz: Benjamin Griffiths*

Dr. Coppelius: Jordan Pacitti*

Waltz of the Golden Hours: Mara Vinson

Dawn: Carrie Imler

Prayer: Carla Körbes

Spinner: Chalnessa Eames

Discord and War: Lindsi Dec/Jerome Tisserand

Friday, 11 Jun

Swanhilda:: Mara Vinson

Franz: James Moore

Dr. Coppelius: Jeffrey Stanton

Waltz of the Golden Hours: Rachel Foster

Dawn: Sarah Ricard Orza*

Prayer: Lindsi Dec*

Spinner: Margaret Mullin*

Discord and War: Ariana Lallone /Batkhurel Bold

Saturday, 12 Jun matinee

Swanhilda:: Lesley Rausch*

Franz: Jerome Tisserand*

Dr. Coppelius: Olivier Wevers

Waltz of the Golden Hours: Rachel Foster

Dawn: Carrie Imler

Prayer: Kylee Kitchens

Spinner: Brittany Reid

Discord and War: Ariana Lallone/Batkhurel Bold

Saturday, 12 Jun evening

Swanhilda:: Carla Körbes

Franz: Seth Orza

Dr. Coppelius: Olivier Wevers

Waltz of the Golden Hours: Rachel Foster

Dawn: Sarah Ricard Orza

Prayer: Lindsi Dec

Spinner: Chalnessa Eames

Discord and War: Carrie Imler/Karel Cruz

Sunday, 13 Jun matinee

Swanhilda:: Rachel Foster

Franz: Benjamin Griffiths

Dr. Coppelius: Jordan Pacitti

Waltz of the Golden Hours: Liora Reshef

Dawn: Lesley Rausch

Prayer: Sarah Ricard Orza

Spinner: Margaret Mullin

Discord and War: Lindsi Dec/Kiyon Gaines*

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From Peter Boal's notes (sent from PNB via email):

-60 of our students appear in each performance, dancing the roles of brides, grooms, corps of war and discord, dolls, bells ringers, villagers, and our miniature corps de ballet.

-Scenic and costume designer Roberta Guidi di Bagno has been a delight to work with over the past two years. She has arranged for each of the 36 little girls in Act III to have a signed original costume design sketch.

-Not only are 152 patron names gracing the spines of the books in Dr. Coppelius’ library, but several sets of initials can be found on the wedding bells in Act III. The two center bells are “GB” and “LD” honoring George Balanchine and Léo Delibes. These initials were also in the original 1974 production at New York City Ballet. I worried that stager Alexandra Danilova might note her absence, so I’ve added hers to the back of the mirror used in Act II. She would have liked that, as she was always fixing her hair.

-Poor Franz spends a long time passed out in the large book chair in Act II. Helgi Tomasson, NYCB’s original Franz, used to have a heating pad placed in the chair for cool evenings in Saratoga Springs. We’ve added a large backrest that looks like a book.

-Judith Fugate has staged the entire ballet for us. She was a memorable Swanilda herself and was in the original cast as a friend. One of the markings in the musical score is “Judy finds key.”

-Kaori really did slap me in studio rehearsal. The things they’ll do in the name of acting!

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Some quick information from Thursday night's Q/A after the performance - Kaori Nakamura injured her calf during the performance and they will be deciding later today (Friday) if she's dancing tomorrow.

Jonathan Poretta has a small tear in one of his medial meniscuses (sorry, don't know the correct plural!) and is scheduled for surgery after the end of the season.

And he introduced his mother as a real housewife of New Jersey!

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Changes for the Saturday matinee casting:

Swanhilda -- Leslie Rausch

Franz -- Jerome Tisserand

Dawn -- Carrie Imler

War and Discord -- Lindsi Dec and B Bold

I didn't ask if Nakamura was swapping performances with Leslie Rausch, or if she was out for the rest of the run.

(This is as of 1:30 on Friday -- the gods know that things could shift again...)

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I heard through the grapevine there were a couple of rocky moments on Saturday night, but also that Korbes looked lovely. Live theater means that you can get both in the same performance -- I can understand the desire to edit that filmmakers have, but I'm also a big fan of the actual event.

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there were a couple of rocky moments on Saturday night

I was there. Yes, there were a couple of slips (3 if I remember right), but in my judgment they were all minor. Likely the most distinctive slip was Seth Orza finishing a set of airborne spins in one of Franz's solos. At that point Franz lands on one knee in a pose. Seth basically fell over at that point (over rotation?). However, unlike Chocomel, I felt Seth had a terrific night. Yes, there were a couple of "goofs", but I say "so what".....it was Seth's debut as Franz, and overall he did just fine. That botched finish was his most obvious mistake. I was watching that entire sequence very carefully. I saw James Moore on Friday night, Jerome Tisserand on Saturday afternoon, and Seth on Saturday night. That sequence is very difficult, and I noted that both James and Jerome were not able to fully rotate the 720° airborne spins (sorry I don't know the french names for ballet steps). James and Jerome both spun perhaps 1 3/4 times and then had to correct to face front in the next step. Seth was the only one who actually did the full 720° airborne spin.....and he did every time. For my money the fact that he blew the final pose was minor compared to the fact that he attempted and succeeded in turning twice in the air, finishing the move facing the audience as it should be done.

Bravo Seth.....say I.

P.S. Having said that, of the 3 Franzs I saw, I'd have to give my gold star to Jerome Tisserand. He was elegant and expressive.

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That turning sequence for Franz is incredibly difficult, and I have great admiration for the performers there.

Your distinction between the rotation and the final pose is an interesting one -- we tend, both in dance and in sport, to put a high value on the "finish," the still picture we leave with the audience. In general, the more you learn about dance or about sport, the more you start to see the action that goes on before the snapshot.

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