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Classical musician here for Ph.D. research!


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Hello, all!

I joined the site because I am a Ph.D. student in French literature (and also a conservatory-trained cellist). One of my thesis chapters will discuss Delibes' Coppélia, and I came across a thread here that had some useful information about the ballet's geographical setting. I'd like to contact some of the people who posted in that thread, although it is 14 years old... Hopefully I can find a way to get in contact with them and get their insight into the geographical/historical context of this work.



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The only thing I can suggest is to read the fascinating source material, the ETA Hoffmann stories, The Girl with the Enamel Eyes and The Sandman. Dr Coppelius, a kind of analogue of Dosselmeyer in Nutcracker and the Mouse King, appears in both tales.

In Hoffmann's originals there is most often a psychotic break with reality (even Clara in Nutcracker undergoes something of one) – and an anxiety about mechanical human-like dolls. Free will is discussed by the characters and overly perfect hostesses and guests at tea parties are suspected of being automatons. The original of Frantz tries to throw the original of Swanilda from a church tower after being given a telescope by Coppelius which makes him go mad. (Glasses and optical viewing devises are best to be avoided if find yourself in an ETA Hoffmann story!) Some of this trickles down into the various ballet versions, Coppelia and Nutcracker

Freud wrote his famous essay on the uncanny, Das Unheimliche, based on Der Sandmann, and others followed his lead in defining the uncanny (or unhomely) and its eerie feeling: Lacan ("the field where we do not know how to distinguish bad and good, pleasure from displeasure"), Kristeva (abjection and "what is the self and what is the other"), etc (:Wikipedia).

I would like to hear more about the second act of the ballet and the meaning of all the fertility symbols, dance of hours, war and peace, etc, as wonderfully reproduced in the Balanchine version (of which Danilova staged most of the first).

Best of luck, eab4. Maybe you can give us a summary of your findings.

Edited by Quiggin
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