From the moment that the first two ballerinas take to the stage in European Ballet’s production of Coppélia, it is very apparent that their artistic style is heavily influenced by the director’s time with the Bolshoi and by the ballet master and mistresses’ experience with both the Kirov and the Royal Ballet companies. There is a confidence in their manner that suggests they are about to deliver something very special, and this they certainly do.
Accompanied by Léo Delibes’ rousing score, the first act introduces the audience to the main characters in the tale. In the window of the house owned by toymaker Dr Coppelius )Sergey Lvov) sits Coppélia – a very life-like doll that he has created. The heroine of the piece, Swanhilda (Katrina Meske), greets the girl, not realising that she is really just a doll, and is angered by her lack of response.
Enter Franz (Alessandro Giovine), Swanhilda’s fiancé, who also spies the doll and greets her with bows, gestures and blown kisses. This angers Swanhilda, who then ends their relationship in protest at his apparent infidelity. The villagers begin to arrive for the harvest festival and the familiar music whichaccompanies the mazurka and czardas fills the air. Despite the confines of the stage, which is fairly small in ballet terms, the company wors very well together.
Act Two takes place inside the toymaker’s house. The room is filled with the toymaker's creations, including Coppélia, and it here that Swanhilda exacts her revenge upon the lovestruck Franz. Special note must go, at this point, to Alessandro Torrielli who, as the Chinese Doll, does get a short and very dramatic solo but then sits totally motionless for the entire act.
In Act Three the stage is cleared; there is only a backdrop by way of scenery. With the new-found expanse there is room for the addition of eight tremendously cute and well-behaved children and it is here that the full company really excels and has the freedom to show off its superb technical ability.
Two of the more senior members of the corps de ballet are given solos at this point and relish the chance to shine in the spotlight. Torrielli, fresh from his static performance in the previous act, is now joined by Tim Baro-Godefroy and the two of them put on an amazing display of athleticism and power combined with a grace and style that had the audience mesmerised.
With a simple storyline, easily defined characters, dazzling costumes and its superb score this production has something for everyone. Added to that there is a principal male dancer who is every inch the leading man and a prima ballerina who is the epitome of balletic grace and charm. With the talented direction and choreography of Stanislav Tchassov, you have a wonderful ballet experience for young and old alike.