STEPPING back on to the street after watching Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Coppélia, it’s almost surprising to see cars whizzing by.
Birmingham Royal Ballet: Coppélia
Festival Theatre, Edinburgh
For the previous two hours, we could easily have been living in the late 19th century, when the ballet was first performed. Yes, advances in set design, costume and make-up give the work a higher production value than could have been dreamt of in 1870, but in every other way this is a traditional, classical ballet to its core.
It’s something Birmingham Royal Ballet does extremely well. More than most narrative ballets, Coppélia relies heavily on clear storytelling, comic timing and strong characterisation – all of which this company has in ample supply.
Eccentric doll-maker Dr Coppélius is a peach of a role for an older dancer, with his delusional hope of bringing one of his creations to life. Franz, a young man with a wandering eye, offers male dancers a chance to display wit, charm and powerful technique, while his long-suffering girlfriend, Swanilda, not only presents a technical challenge to any ballerina taking her on, but a feisty, playful heroine to get their teeth into.
Despite creative input by three different choreographers over the years – Marius Petipa, Enrico Cecchetti and, latterly, Sir Peter Wright – Coppélia is a seamless, old-school classic that still has much to offer.
With big ensemble scenes blending upbeat folk dance with exquisite pointe work, opulent sets, gorgeous costumes and lighter than air delivery, it’s a clear case of what’s not to like?
Seen on 04.02.15
• Run ends today