What is a Story Ballet?
A story ballet is exactly what the name implies—it is a ballet that tells a story! Story ballets, unlike concept ballets, have a clearly discernible plotline that they follow with identifiable characters. Sometimes these stories would be common folk or fairy tales, such as Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella. Other story ballets would be based on pre-existing stories by literary authors, such as E.T.A. Hoffmann’s stories as the foundation for both Coppélia and The Nutcracker. Other story ballets have unknown origins, such as Swan Lake.
What was happening in history when Coppélia was first choreographed and staged?
The late 1800s was a time of great change. The Romantic Era was giving way to the Contemporary Era of the 20th century. Coppélia has many elements of the Romantic Era such as peasants in the cast of characters. However, the ballet breaks with tradition by having no ethereal creatures and by including national dances in the choreography like the Mazurka.
Changes in art connect with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. There is the saying that goes: “art imitates life.” Everyone was enthralled with mechanical inventions including writers and artists. The idea that a machine could do human movement was very intriguing. Dr. Coppelius’ workshop reflected that new fascination.
When Coppélia premiered in 1870, the Industrial Revolution was beginning. Many people were fearful that machines were going to take over the world while others were excited to be part of a time when automation was making work easier. Today, there is much happening in technology and again there are some people who are excited and some who are nervous. While assembly lines and automation are part of the way we live, we are again exploring ways that technology can improve productivity in the workplace and in our daily lives. Some people are ready to embrace this new technological world while others are more tentative and feel uncomfortable; just as it was in 1870.
On May 25, 1870, Coppélia premiered in Paris at the Théâtre Imperial l’Opéra. The invasion of France by the Prussian Army prevented a long run, but after the Franco-Prussian War, this comedic ballet became a favorite at the Opera with over 500 performances.
Did you know that the story of Coppélia is derived from a short story by E.T.A. Hoffmann called The Sandman (Der Sandmann). Ernst Theodore Amadeus (E.T.A.) Hoffmann, was a German writer, artist, and composer from the 19th century German Romantic period. Aside from Coppélia, his most recognizable contribution is his story of “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” which has been adapted and performed annually as The Nutcracker by ballet companies across the globe!
What is Coppélia all about?
Our audience members will be transported to a small European village with music composed by Leo Delibes. We first meet Swanilda who is all set to tell us the story of how she and Franz fell in love and are to be married. That is until she saw Franz blowing kisses to Dr. Coppelius’ daughter, Coppelia. Swanilda does not know what to do and will need the help of the audience.
The villagers gather to celebrate the arrival of their new town bell by dancing a Mazurka. It is announced there will be a party in honor of the new bell and what better time to ring the bell than for a wedding. Anyone who marries that day will receive a large dowry. After talking with Franz, Swanilda decides she must go talk to Coppelia.
When Swanilda and her friends arrive at the doctor’s workshop she is a little nervous before going in. Swanilda and her friends go into Dr. Coppelius’ strange workshop and discover that the people in the shop are really dolls! Dr. Coppelius returns unexpectedly and Swanilda hides and her friends scamper away.
Meanwhile, Franz sneaks into the workshop to talk to Coppelia as well. Dr. Coppelius comes up with a plan and gives Franz a sleeping potion. Find out if Swanilda will be able to rescue Franz.
What will happen to Coppelia and her father? Will Swanilda and Franz ever be married?
Don’t miss this charming and funny story ballet!!! Get your tickets now!