Coppelia, a mechanical doll made by the toy-maker Dr. Coppelius, is so life-like that some believe she is his daughter. The mistake leads to intrigue and jealousy in love. This 19th century classic, in an enchanting prod... more »uction by Royal Ballet choreographer Dame Ninette de Valoise, with original designs by Sir Osbert Lancaster, was broadcast live by BBC television in February 2000. With Leanne Benjamin, Carlos Acosta, Luke Heydon, and Nicolae Moldaveano.« less
"The BBC televised and videotaped February 2000 performance of Ninette de Valois' Coppelia by the Royal Ballet is stunning. Osbert Lancaster's set and costume designs add to the visual appeal of this production. The principal dancers are outstanding, particularly Leanne Benjamin as Swanilda. She is a very fine technician; her footwork, leaps, and turns appear effortless and fluid. In Act I, she executes big kicks with flair, showing marvelous extension and height. Donning a mantilla near the end of Act II, she gives us a splashy bolero that culminates in a flurry of chaine turns; she then changes gears with fancy footwork in a Scottish jig. Ms. Benjamin is also an excellent dramatic mime: one moment pouty, the next jealous. Especially amusing in Act II, she mocks and teases old Dr. Coppelius as she pretends to be his creation, the beautiful Coppelia. Luke Heydon, Coppelius, demonstrates throughout how great a comic actor/dancer he is, but also arouses pathos in us when he falls under the spell of his gorgeous live-size mechanical doll he thinks he has brought to life. Franz, Carlos Acosta, partners Benjamin's Swanilda in the first two acts and solos only in Act III. There, he spins and jumps with seamless precision and grace. The corps de ballet, the folk dancers, and Swanilda's girlfriends all dance with verve and elegance. The mazurka and czardas are very pleasing to the eye. Delibes' luscious score, ably performed by the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House under the direction of Nicolae Moldoveanu, has one captivating melody after another full of passion and poignancy. The DVD's superior picture quality brings out the vibrant colors of the costumes and set designs. The camera angles and editing are first rate. This DVD is superbly entertaining. It will please the sophisticated balletomane as well as the novice."
calladay | Honolulu, Hawaii | 08/01/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Having played the parts of both Coppelia and Swanilda, I wish to express HOW GREAT THIS BALLET IS!!! I think that this is the funniest and best version of Coppelia I have ever seen. Leanne Benjamin, Carlos Acosta, and Luke Heydon all deserved that long curtain call at the end. The orchestra, the dancing, the costumes were all beautiful. Also, the synopsis at the beginning of each Act made it easier to understand the storyline for even the youngest of my sisters. The only thing that made this 4 instead of 5 stars was the signs that they used to express their words. I knew what they meant because I have seen this ballet many times, but I know that a stranger to the story would NOT understand it at all."
Lovely, charming version of this cute ballet
Ivy Lin | NY NY | 11/05/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The storyline for Coppelia is so wafer-thin that it's a testament to Delibes lilting score and the delightful choreography that this ballet remains a staple of most ballet companies. Even George Balanchine choreographed his Coppelia. The story: Franz is engaged to a clever village girl Swanilda, but falls in love with a life-sized doll made by the eccentric Dr. Coppelius. Swanilda catches onto Franz's cheating ways and decides to teach her fiance a lesson. This Royal Ballet production of Coppelia is delightful in almost every way. The choreography by Ninette de Valois (after Petipa) captures the small-village charms of this ballet. As the heroine Swanilda, Leanne Benjamin is more cute than memorable. She is graceful and has lovely extensions, and very beautiful soft arms. She is one of those ballerinas that's light on her feet and thus a pleasure to watch not only in the "big moments" but just standing on pointe. She's also an impressive kicker. But I'd personally like a Swanilda with more personality and spunk. Benjamin is cute, feminine, but she doesnt quite have that mischevious twinkle in her eye that I like to see. Carlo Acosta, the Cuban ballet sensation, has a sunny, bright face and a boyish persona that's well-suited for Franz. I love his naivete and sweetness. Luke Heydon is Dr. Coppelius and the production wisely doesnt make Coppelius a sinister weirdo, just a lovable town eccentric. The dvd helpfully has a nice synopsis before each act, and is filmed live so it is thankfully free of the cut-aways and edits that plague most studio ballet films."
"Before I begin I should in all fairness say that I am not a ballet expert. I purchased this DVD after getting to know some of Délibes' music on the Naxos CDs "Best of French Ballet" and "Invitation to the Dance". I enjoyed the music so much that I wanted to see the stage production as a whole. And that is what I got: This original BBC broadcast version of Coppélia contains all three acts and is performed in historic costume and with the original designs by Sir Osbert Lancaster at the Royal Opera House. Apart from the actual performance there are three "extras": the introduction to the original television broadcast by Deborah Bull; a ten-minute feature on the removal of the Royal Ballet to Covent Garden; and an illustrated biography of Sir Osbert Lancaster.
Personally, I found the performance mesmerising, enjoyable in every aspect. Leanne Benjamin gives an amazing performance considering that she had to stand in for the injured leading ballerina at very short notice. I found her gestures easy to follow (after listening to Deborah Bull's explanation), and her facial expression always delightful with just the right mixture of humour and mock gravity. The scene in Act 2 where she fools Dr. Coppelius into believing that Coppélia has come alive is absolutely hilarious. Her dancing is beautiful, too, and if there are one or two slight faults or hesitations, these can be forgiven her because of the circumstances.
Carlos Acosta is an equally fine "Franz", his good looks, his youth and fresh vitality combine with an unusual degree of charm and humour to make this a performance to remember. And surely, Luke Heydon's performance of Dr. Coppelius should not be overlooked: I don't know how often he is knocked over, carried around etc., but he manages to make it all look like child's play. He is certainly no ogre, rather a funny old man with his own sense of humour.
The rest of the team made a grand impression on me, not least the orchestra. The sound from a video DVD is usually inferior to what you would hear from a CD (probably a result of using a multi-format player), but I found the digital signal here (fed to an external D/A converter) to be quite satisfying. On Amazon's German-language website, one reviewer philosophizes about Délibes' music and the piece's commenting on the industrial revolution and man's relationship to the mechanical world. I think that is probably reading too much into a score that is just sheer good fun all the way through - a piece that will make you feel good about life!
All in all, this was a first-rate cultural experience not to be missed. "
P. Nipper | Ga, United States | 09/16/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This video was well done. It focused on all the aspects of attending a ballet. The entire dance hall was filmed as well as the orchestra and its conductor. The ballet itself was a treat to watch. At the beginning of each act, the scenes were explained. Many dance students are not familiar with the story ballets. My students found the synopsis to be very helpful. As always, the dancing was fabulous and extremely entertaining. Bravo!!"