Delibes: Coppélia (DVD) – Bolshoi Ballet

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Delibes: Coppélia (DVD) – Bolshoi Ballet

Composer: Léo Delibes
Artists: Margarita Shrayner, Artem Ovcharenko, Alexey Loparevitch, Corps de Ballet, Orchestra & Chorus of the State Academic Bolshoi Theatre
Choreographer: Sergey Vikharev, after Marius Petipa & Enrico Cecchetti
Conductor: Pavel Sorokin
Format: NTSC
Number of Discs: 1
Region: All Regions
Studio: Bel Air Classiques
DVD Release Date: April 19, 2019
Run Time: 100 minutes

Léo Delibes’s Coppélia is not only a collection of fine dances. It is primarily an abrasive and sardonic comedy, which is somewhat unusual in the world of classical ballet. But most importantly, it is a comedy for which excellent music was composed. Tchaikovsky’s assessment of Delibes’s ballet scores, allegedly capable of overshadowing the choreography itself, is well known: “What beauty, what elegance, what richness of melody, rhythm and harmony!” It is not surprising that music from this ballet should be performed, for its own merits, during concerts.

The main theme of this light-hearted ballet is taken from E.T.A. Hoffmann’s anything but joyful novellas – mainly from The Sandman. In Hoffmann’s tale, the young man’s infatuation with the doll ends tragically, while in the ballet, the lively and energetic Swanilda (Frantz’s fiancée) is able to outwit the old Coppélius, the cunning inventor of the “Girl with the enamel eyes,” and free her lover from the doll’s poisonous charm.

Coppélia has a rich selection of dance melodies based on folklore, and especially Slavic and Eastern European themes. Marius Petipa and Enrico Cecchetti adapted the choreography for the Russian stage, but their version fell out of interest during the 20th century until 2009. It is here interpreted by the Bolshoi Ballet’s finest dancers: Margarita Shrayner as the witty Swanilda, and Artem Ovcharenko the love-sick Frantz.

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In classic or contemporary ballet, dancing may tell a story, express a mood, or simply reflect the music in movement. Ballet as part of staged performances originated in the Italian Renaissance courts of the 15th and 16th centuries and from there spread to France. The creation of classical ballet as we know it today occurred during the reign of the art-loving French king Louis XIV in the mid-17th century. During the Romantic era, ballet technique evolved to express new ideas, most notably with women dancing en point, or on their toes, allowing them to appear weightless and otherworldly.
Among the choreographers who helped bring ballet into the modern age by exploring new visual and dramatic styles are George Balanchine, Antony Tudor and—bridging the worlds of classical dance and Broadway—Agnes de Mille and Jerome Robbins.



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