Music by Leo Delibes
Birmingham Royal Ballet
The Lowry, 9 June 2011
Another take on the cult of woman, a man creating, moulding and manipulating a woman to fit his own purposes: think James Stewart in Vertigo.
At the end, Dr Coppelius and his doll Coppelia dance away happily together, but what role lies in store for her?
On a lighter note, there is a lot of humour to the ballet and Swanilda’s friends show much girlish charm and giggles, especially in the second act when they enter the strange doctor’s workshop. The set in this act was particularly enchanting and Swanilda (the superb Carol-Anne Millar), imitating a mechanical doll as she danced, gave you a genuine sense of the uncanny. She was pretending not to be alive, whether that’s the same as playing dead, I don’t know. Her movement suggested a poet trying to be true to idiom while keeping to metre.
Now the woman who was most alive, wondrously so actually, was the Gypsy played in the first act by the stunning and sensuous Angela Paul. Man, she made a barefoot contessa and a half, and no mistake. Swanilda, being midway between the wildness of the Gypsy princess and the mechanical doll Coppelia, naturally settled for marriage at the finish: a middling incarceration.
This was a fine production of a ballet about love and the facsimiles thereof. And the virtuosity of the dancers – and here I’m thinking above all of Carol-Anne Millar’s performance in the final act – was frequently an occasion for admiration and delight.
Coppelia is at The Lowry until 11 June. Details are here.