Original libretto by Charles Nuitter and Arthur Saint-Léon based on The Sandman by E. T. A. Hoffmann
Staging by Mikhail MessererStage Design and Costumes: Vyacheslav Okunev
The production includes choreographic motifs and elements from versions by Arthur Saint-Léon, Marius Petipa, Enrico Cecchetti, and Alexander Gorsky
Lighting Design: Alexander Kibitkin
Musical Director: Pavel Sorokin
Ballet Master’s Assistants: Anna Razenko, Evgeny Popov
Stage Designer’s Assistants: Sergey Novikov, Larisa Ivushkina
Musical Director’s Assistant: Alexey Repnikov
Principal Pianists: Natalia Spichka, Elena Panova
ballet in three acts
music by Léo Delibes
Premiere of the production: 2 October 2020
At the heart of the plot of the Léo Delibes ballet Coppélia lies the story of a careless youth who nearly trades his lovely bride for a mechanical doll.
In the 150 years since its premiere, the show’s choreography has undergone numerous changes. In creating his version of Coppélia for the Mikhailovsky Theatre, Mikhail Messerer used elements of productions by his great predecessors in the world of classical ballet — Arthur Saint-Léon, Marius Petipa, and Alexander Gorsky, while his own sense of taste, imagination, and knowledge of tradition helped him create a show that functions as a cohesive whole.
This lively ballet, with elements of pantomime and colourful distinctive variations, but with strictly classical dancing at its core, makes for ideal family viewing.
In the evening, when Coppélius is leaving the house for a stroll, he is suddenly surrounded by a group of youth, who make fun of the elderly craftsman. Coppélius shoos them away but, in the chaos, loses the key to his house. Swanhilda and her friends find the key and decide to sneak into the house to learn who the mystery girl is.
Coppélius comes back, finds the door open, and quietly enters his house hoping to catch the intruders. Franz decides to climb through the window to visit Coppélia, not knowing that Swanhilda and Coppélius are in the house already.
Having given some wine to the giddy young man and making him tipsy, Coppélius introduces him to the beautiful stranger — Swanhilda disguised as the doll. Franz is confused seeing the girl walk in an awkward, angular way. When Coppélius tells him that it is a doll, the man is astonished: she is made so well.
Coppélius mysteriously claims that he can strike life into the doll... Franz does not believe this: it is enough that he has already made a blunder and fallen in love with a doll. But... what is that? The doll really does come alive. Franz becomes convinced of that when he listens to how her heart beats. His interest in the girl in rekindled, and he asks Coppélius for her hand. Now Franz’s unfaithfulness is fully evident. Swanhilda tears off the doll’s wig and makes Franz repent for his behaviour. The young man begs for her forgiveness. His repentance is so sincere, and their mutual love is so evident that Coppélius decides to reconcile the lovers. The happy couple leave the house of the dollmaker.
On the festive day, the square is filling up with people. Coppélius presents the town with a new clock he has made for the Town Hall tower. The magnificent clock appears before the admiring townspeople. By tradition, weddings are also celebrated on that day. Today, several young couples, including Swanhilda and Franz, are getting married.
Once the ceremony is over, dancing begins. Coppélius calls Swanhilda and Franz up, and having looked archly at the happy young man, the old craftsman gifts to the newlyweds a little doll as a keepsake and a token of their true love.