Coppelia Royal Ballet

‘A tuneful & comic delight’: COPPÉLIA – Royal Opera House ★★★★

In Dance, London theatre, Opinion, Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

Royal Opera House, London – until 7 January 2020

Well, hello, Dolly – finally back where you belong at Covent Garden, after a 13-year hiatus. Coppélia may be the nearest classical ballet comes to pantomime and as a choice alternative to the usual slew of Nutcrackers and Sleeping Beauties, this one is a tuneful and comic delight.

Vintage cartoonist Osbert Lancaster’s colourful 1954 designs place us in a story book Eastern Europe with tight bodices, full skirts and men in leggings and boots, and while it’s not envelope-pushing, Ninette de Valois’ choreography is tight on precision, extension and rigorous pointe work.

The plot is deliciously silly – Swanilda and Franz are young lovers, but he’s besotted by a ‘girl’ seen in a window, a mechanical doll made by the creepy-to-downright-Jeffrey-Epstein character of Dr Coppelius played by hugely popular character artist Gary Avis.

Crazy kids break into the workshop, trick the old guy into believing the doll’s come to life, a prince doles out bags of gold to make everyone happy, and there’s a wedding at the end.

Coppélia is especially good for your smaller peeps because there’s none of the frightening darkness even of Swan Lake, and there is such a wealth of exuberant routines from the Scottish and Spanish solos, to superb 24-strong corps de ballet where the rhythmic slapping of soft leather boots and the super-precise placing of the feet in their Hungarian-inspired Mazurka and Csárdás formation dances is so uplifting.

It’s not perfect, but neither is it a lazy revival, most of the principals in this season have not danced Coppélia in their careers before, so there’s a freshness to all the performances.

Francesca Hayward is a glorious Swanilda, the sustained strength and controlled elegance of her dancing brought rapturous applause, and she’s a neat mime and comedienne too. Her partnership with Alexander Campbell’s Franz is both powerful and romantic – Franz spends most of the second act in a drugged stupor but comes thrillingly to life in the final scenes

Covent Garden is always worth the investment but if the royal box is a touch beyond your Christmas budget, Coppélia is <a href=http://johnnyfox.co.uk/reviews/coppelia-royal-ballet-covent-garden/ in fifty cinemas across London (and the rest of the world) on Tuesday 10 December.

Cinemas link:

Until 7 January 2020

Johnny Fox on FacebookJohnny Fox on RssJohnny Fox on Twitter
Johnny Fox
‘Johnny Fox’ studied Theatre at Lancaster University and Journalism at City before realising there was no money in either profession and concentrating instead on interior design for investment banks in Singapore, New York and Moscow. Back home, he wrote mostly about theatre, mostly in London, for arts and events websites including Londonist and The Pink Paper. He blogged independently at www.johnnyfox.london. He passed away, after a long battle with cancer, in May 2020.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Johnny Fox on FacebookJohnny Fox on RssJohnny Fox on Twitter
Johnny Fox
‘Johnny Fox’ studied Theatre at Lancaster University and Journalism at City before realising there was no money in either profession and concentrating instead on interior design for investment banks in Singapore, New York and Moscow. Back home, he wrote mostly about theatre, mostly in London, for arts and events websites including Londonist and The Pink Paper. He blogged independently at www.johnnyfox.london. He passed away, after a long battle with cancer, in May 2020.

Leave a Comment