Dr Coppélius, the toymaker, has created the lifelike Coppélia doll and wishes for nothing more than to bring her to life. He thinks his dream has finally come true, but he has merely been caught up in a lovers' tiff. Love triumphs over all in this comedy of mistaken identity and the finale is a breathtaking celebration of the lovers' marriage.
Coppélia is an enchanting, effervescent family ballet, perfect for young and old alike. Delibes's irresistibly melodic score is performed by English National Ballet's full orchestra.
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A village square in Galicia Swanilda, the burgomaster’s daughter is betrothed to Franz, a handsome young villager. On the eve of their wedding she has cause to doubt the seriousness of his affections when she finds him ogling at a beautiful girl sitting on the balcony of Dr Coppélius’ house. Dr Coppélius is a strange, somewhat sinister toymaker whose weird experiments cause much musement. The appearance of the unknown girl causes much interest and speculation, particularly as she has ignored Swanilda’s friendly greetings.
The burgomaster leads in the peasants from the fields and reminds them that the following day will be the harvest festival at which his daughter’s marriage will be celebrated. On seeing that Swanilda and Franz have quarrelled, he produces an ear of corn and suggests that they prove the old legend - if it rattles they will be married. The corn, however, remains silent. After a few tears Swanilda is soon dancing with her friends again. By evening the lovers have made up their quarrel and they tenderly kiss goodnight.
While on his way to the inn, Dr Coppélius is intercepted by a few rowdy youths. After a brief skirmish, they depart and he continues on his way unaware he has dropped his key. Swanilda and her friends observe the strange incident and decide to enter the strange house to meet the beautiful but unfriendly girl. They are soon followed by the agitated Dr Coppélius.
Swanilda and her friends warily enter the sinister room but soon discover with delight the many charming automatons created by Dr Coppélius and are amused to find the beautiful stranger is also a doll. They are soon interrupted by the irate Dr Coppélius who drives away all the intruders, except Swanilda who is trapped in an alcove.
Franz appears on the balcony and steathily enters. Dr Coppélius seizes him and, after drugging him, seeks to transfer his life-force to the doll. Not realising that Swanilda has taken the doll’s place, he is overjoyed by his apparent success. But Dr Coppélius is dismayed when Franz revives and all becomes clear. Franz begs Swanilda’s forgiveness and forgives her jealousies. They run out leaving the disillusioned Dr Coppélius alone.
The villagers assemble for the harvest festival which is celebrated with dances for Swanilda’s and Franz’s wedding feast. The couple lead a procession from the church. Dr Coppélius storms out of his house threatening revenge but the Burgomaster pacifies him with gifts of money and wine. The festivities continue into the night.