The Australian Ballet

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Coppélia - The Story


TAB Coppelia Sydney Photo Daniel Boud 2016 36 1

Act I

A village Square in Galicia

The villagers are preparing for the Harvest Festival. The official party, led by the Town Councillor, celebrates the gift of a bell by the Seigneur and his Lady. The celebration is momentarily interrupted by Dr Coppelius, whose mysterious "daughter" causes a quarrel between Swanilda and her fiancé Franz. The villagers, after continuing the celebrations with a czardas, disperse to await the Harvest Festival the following morning. Meanwhile, Swanilda and her friends investigate the strange house of Dr Coppélius.

Act II

Inside Dr Coppelius’ house – that evening

Swanilda and her friends search for the girl they saw earlier on the balcony. However, Dr Coppelius returns and chases them – except for Swanilda, who hides – from his house. Franz arrives and Dr Coppelius wickedly endeavours to take his spirit from him and put it into the body of his "daughter", his most prized possession. Coppelius is fooled by Swanilda and thinks his mechanical doll has come to life. The lovers are reunited and Dr Coppelius is left broken-hearted.


Outside the church – the next morning

The day of the celebration has arrived and the couples are married. Led by the child-god Hymen, the gathered villagers celebrate the pageant day with joyous dancing.

Cast of Characters

Dr Coppelius is a lonely old alchemist who lives in a two-storey house on the edge of the village square. He is regarded by the villagers as a sorcerer, someone who conducts strange experiments in his laboratory. They fear him and ridicule him.

Coppélia is his "daughter", a mechanical doll who is so lifelike she is able to fool the villagers into believing she is alive. Doctor Coppelius is so enamoured of this doll that he tries to use magic to bring her to life.

Swanilda is one of the most beautiful girls of the village, Swanilda loves life and her fiancé, Franz. She and her friends are to be married at a mass wedding during the Harvest Festival on the following day.

Franz is engaged to marry Swanilda, he causes her a great deal of dismay when he notices the beautiful "new girl" in the village, Coppélia, throwing kisses at him. Not realising that she is only a mechanical doll, he is determined to discover whether she really loves him or not by breaking into Dr Coppelius’ house, where he finds himself in great danger.

The Official Party

The Seigneur and his Lady

The Town Councillor and his Wife

The School Teacher

The Priest

Villagers, Dolls, Attendants

Production Credits

Devised and directed by George Ogilvie

Choreography Arthur Saint-Léon

Revised by Marius Petipa and Enrico Cecchetti

Additional choreography Peggy van Praagh

Music Léo Delibes

Costume and set design Kristian Fredrikson

Original lighting design William Akers


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