Coppélia - November 2014



Coppélia opened at the Bristol Hippodrome this week and it is beautifully brilliant post-feminist fiesta.

This is the story of a mechanical doll, mad toymaker and male lead with a wandering eye.

It is visually stunning and the performances are truly breathtaking.

The English National Ballet gives us a cleverly crafted comic masterpiece – pretty perfection on points!

Get it girls it is suppose to be funny.

There are three distinct scenes which go from town square to workroom and back to the square with intervals between each.

The opening scene is framed with flowers hanging from the rafters and set in a busy Germanic market place complete with tavern and horse trough.

The girls in the corp de ballet are almost overdressed in brightly coloured national costumes with white pinafores, puff sleeves and embroidered skirts on top of layers of frilly petticoats while the boys wear white fur topped Cossack-style red boot, military jackets and hats and not much else.

Their beige coloured tights are a little bit too revealing – all bumps and bulges – and from behind it looks as if they are naked!

It caused a snigger in the stalls.

And while talking about seats something strange happened in the theatre on opening night as there were lots of empty seats for the first hour – a least three rows.

They filled for the second part and emptied again in the third.

Someone said it was a coach caught up in traffic which had to leave early but just not sure.

Anyway moving on after an explosion and lots of smoke the eccentric toymaker danced by Michael Coleman is manhandled and dumped in the horse trough.

He looks very much like the crooked old man who lives in the crooked house from the nursery rhyme.

The second scene is in Dr Coppélia’s dimly lit loft room.

The star of the show is the Japanese first soloist Shiori Kase who goes effortlessly from a floating featherweight ballerina to energetic stomping folk dancer.

But her tour de force is as the robotic doll.

Her mannerisms as a mannequin are from the top of her head to the tip of her toes quite amazing.

You were never in any doubt what she was doing and why. Bravo.

The finale is a silver and gold themed wedding with several glittering solo dances.

Yonah Acosta as Franz twirls and jumps with the agility of a lovelorn gazette.

But all ends happily ever after in a tableau of champagne shades and arms shaped as halos.

It finished with a flurry of petals.

The cast was joined on stage by Bristol School of Dance students Neve 

  • Shiori Kase as Swanilda, Yonah Acosta as Franz and character artist Michael Coleman as Dr Coppelius in English National Ballet’s production of  of Coppélia. Photo: © David Jenson/EN

Lewis and Caspar Lewis as the innkeeper’s children although their parts were not much more than walk on.

Choreographer Ronald Hynd deserves lavish praise as do the English National Ballet’s full orchestra who played Léo Delibes' accompanying score.

Ballet fan Alison Walker said: “This was my first visit to the ballet for many years,so what a pleasure it was to have the opportunity to see Coppélia at the Bristol Hippodrome.

“Coppélia is a lovely production for all the family.

“The choreography is stunning.

 “The standout performances of the principal dancers Swandilha and Franz, the lovers around which the story is set produce some breathtaking solos.

“The costumes are beautifully designed and leap out from the stage in vivid technicolor. 

“The set design contributes to the atmosphere to this production especially that of  Dr Coppelius workshop.”

“The musical score by Delibes performed by the English National Ballet orchestra is light and joyful and surprisingly familiar.

“You would not believe this is a 19th century ballet, it certainly stands the test of time.

“Don't miss out on this only too short a run.”

The Bristol Hippodrome is the final date in a four city tour which included London, Southampton and Oxford.

The show closes on Saturday, November 8, I urge you to see this production and take all the family.