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Coppelia on DVD


The Mystery of Coppelia

Swanilda: Dorothée Gilbert.
Frantz: Mathias Heymann.
Coppélius: José Martinez.
Spalanzani: Fabrice Bourgeois.
Corps de Ballet de l'Opéra National de Paris.
Orchestre Colonne/Koen Kessels
Chorégraphie: Patrice Bart (1996).
Filmed à Paris, Palais Garnier, march 2011
Opus Arte BluRay DVD OA BD 7093D

This new version of Coppelia is complex and at first bewildering; there is a detailed explanatory documentary entitled The Mystery of Coppelia, as is too Reiner E Moritz's booklet essay. That might better have been the title of the whole DVD to prevent purchasers being misled.

The background to Patrice Bart's concept is traversed in the slender insert leaflet (small print, grey on white) but DVD Chapters are only listed on screen, in unreadably miniscule print... The music is well recorded (though a French reviewer* found the orchestra wanting) and it is strengthed by the inclusion of music from Delibes' operas. By contrary, Marin (below) omits Delibes' folk dances from his Coppeia score; it seems to be something of a free for all...

Taken without trying hard to understand every mimed and danced detail I found it impressive but, somehow, not one to take straight through at a sitting. The dancing is gorgeous and the filming equally so.

Peter Grahame Woolf

See an excerpt from a review in classiquenews.com: Les ensembles sont soignés; le duo des jeunes amoureux rééquilibre absolument l'action du ballet romantique et les options parisiennes (décors et danse) savent régénérer ce caractère de féerie et de mystère, de fantastique entre illusion et réalité, tragédie et art qui font de Coppélia, l'un des ballets romantiques français les plus captivants. Dommage cependant que l'Orchestre Colonne n'exprime en rien la finesse instrumentale de la partition, l'un des joyaux du romantisme musical... que les orchestres d'époque, Les Siècles en tête, savent si superbement transfigurer. A quand une reprise de Coppélia avec orchestre d'époque? Le bénéfice musical en sortirait largement gagnant comme la magie de la réalisation scénique et chorégraphique. Un spectacle où l'illusion et l'imaginaire pèsent de tout leur poids, le mérite définitivement. Production magistrale qui mérite absolument sa publication en dvd. [Michaelo del Pizzare]


Maguy Marin's Coppelia from Lyon [Arthaus DVD 100 337] takes into our own time the Hoffman story of thebreakup of a real relationship because of infatuation with a mechanical doll.

The archetypal theme of the image taking over from reality (Golem,Frankenstein etc) is given in a modern, inner city setting, with some violence.

The first act of this Coppelia is set outside a drab block of flats, with concerted dances that remind one of the build up of tensions in West Side Story - abbreviated here by omission of Delibes' folk dances, which interrupt the story telling in the original ballet. Afterwards, paradoxically, the imagination expands in Coppelius' small flat and the dance aspect improves in an indoor fantasy with a bevy of scarlet dolls - a memorable image of fantasy overwhelming reality; disturbing, very imaginative and brilliantly filmed.

The Delibes score is played excellently by Kent Nagano with the Lyon National Opera Orchestra, and as well recorded.