Coppélia by Birmingham Royal Ballet – Bristol Hippodrome REVIEW

Cop-eh-leaa…Co-pillah…Copp-ee-lia… Just some of the pronunciations that were attempted as the audience shuffled into the Hippodrome. Is anybody 100% certain on how to pronounce this famous ballet?

Set in a Bavarian-style village, eccentric toymaker Dr Coppélius catches the eye of Franz, played by Tyrone Singleton, by creating a moving doll. This causes a stir between Franz and Swanhilda, played by Céline Gittens, who then decides to sneak into Dr Coppélius’s workshop and trick the toymaker into believing that the doll has come to life.

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The simplistic story is sectioned cleanly into three acts. Each set as beautiful and intricate as the last. The stage was filled with visual glory in the forms of scenery depicting a quaint fairytale village, and costumes of classic tutus, dainty skirts and prince-like attire.

The set needed to accommodate for the large cast that filled the space, bringing life and movement to the production. The male ensemble and corps de ballets of delicate girls gave depth to a small main cast. Within these the soloists were technically very strong with Mathias Dingman successfully completing 36 consecutive turns.

Despite the sea of dancers, the principals stood out head and shoulders above the others. Céline Gittens’ fast feet and and Tyrone Singleton’s power were a genius combination especially along with the couple’s chemistry. Their lines were flawless and precisely mirrored one another’s. The pair really came into their own in the final act with their solos and a dynamic pas de deux. Her expressive dancing teamed with his fluidity built upon their chemistry.

Céline’s beats were almost too quick for the naked eye and she pulled off complex turn sequences around the stage with ease. Tyrone’s height in his jumps was consistent and his accuracy was error-free. He blew me away with his tour en l’air (if you don’t know what I’m on about, YouTube them, they are insane!).

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One of the many reasons the story of Coppélia is so successful is down to the heavy sprinkling of comedy throughout. From mischievous behaviour to unbeatable slapstick, the production keeps you giggling from start to finish.

I always like an orchestra for a ballet and this production came with serious orchestra. The group of 80 took up half auditorium with an array of gorgeous instruments and sounds. You’ll be recognising music even in the opening overture, this music is so evocative of classical ballet and it makes me smile every time I hear it.

It’s been said time and time again but for a first ballet for children or first time goers you can’t beat Coppélia; easy to follow, lighthearted and accessible. And for experienced ballet fans it is simply a joy to watch.

 

Footnote: Coppélia was the first ever review I wrote on this blog nearly three years ago. Make of that what you will…

 

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