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‘Coppelia’ Captivates Audience

Fri., June 2, 1995

First-timers as well as ballet patrons love “Coppelia.” Whether viewing this classic ballet for the first or fifth time, audiences enjoy the production. It is sheer entertainment.

What makes “Coppelia” so popular is its simple storyline, energetic choreography and traditionally colorful sets. If done well, all three combine to keep the audience captivated throughout the performance.

These are some of the reasons Conservatory Ballet Theatre has chosen to perform “Coppelia” as its spring production.

The ballet is a story of lovers Franz and Swanilda. They live in a small Galician village and plan to marry. But Franz secretly develops a crush on Coppelia, the daughter of a toymaker. Coppelia takes no notice of Franz, preferring to sit silently by her window reading a book. The two lovers sneak into the toymaker’s shop, dabble in magic and mischief, and finally discover that Coppelia is nothing but a doll.

Even though most people enjoy the story as a comedy, it retains a tragic element. And “Coppelia” has more to offer than a simple storyline. Sets and costumes are more than just backdrops; they are meant to be noticed and help bring the stage to life. Conservatory Ballet Theatre has rented costumes from the Colorado Ballet. Nik Adams, who does the sets for Civic Theatre, has created the sets for “Coppelia” - a traditional village scene and the inside of the toymaker’s shop. Between the sets and costumes, audience members should feel as if they are in the heart of the small Galician village.

A recording of Leo Delibe’s festive and lively original score will accompany the dancers.

Like any good ballet, the music for “Coppelia” compliments the dancers’ movements. Conservatory Ballet’s Artistic Director Rita Brodie knows this, and strayed little from Marius Petipa’s late 19th-century choreography of “Coppelia.”

Petipa’s version of “Coppelia” is perhaps the best known, although there have been many others. Brodie has reworked some of the movements only to capitalize on her dancers’ strengths, but those who know the ballet well will detect only minor deviations. All of Brodie’s original choreography has been done in a classic manner, in keeping with the style of “Coppelia.” Brodie has trained the company dancers in traditional Russian technique.

Conservatory Ballet is a local, nonprofessional group of dancers. The company staged “Coppelia” in 1986 and 1990, but this is the first time the company has performed the ballet at The Met.

Dancers performing lead roles in “Coppelia” include Jaci Rice as Swanilda, Daniel Barnett as Franz, and Nik Adams as Dr. Coppelius. Students from the Metropolitan School of Ballet will also perform in the production, dancing the Mazurka and doll’s roles.

xxxx “Coppelia: The Girl With Enamel Eyes” Staged by Conservatory Ballet Theatre Location and time: The Met, Thursday at 8:15 p.m. and June 9 at 8 p.m. Tickets: $10 and $12.50

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