Margaret Murphy reviews Coppelia on

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Chris High reviews: The Liverpool Empire performance of Coppelia 2007


The Russian Classical Ballet Theatre

Music: Leo Delibes
Producers: Ellen Kent & Ballet International
Liverpool Empire Theatre
Thursday, 1st February 2007

Coppelia is the perfect children’s ballet. A simple children’s story, taken from the Tales of Hoffman in which a suitor with a roving eye becomes besotted with the toymaker’s daughter, Coppelia – who is really an automaton, a mechanical toy. There is mystery, a few thrills – but never so much as to frighten the younger members of the audience – romance, and best of all, a happy ending.

Coppelia:  promotional image


The quick turnaround from the previous night’s performance of Swan Lake showed in the first act of Coppelia – the dancing seemed stiff and a bit lack-lustre, the peasant dances somewhat under-rehearsed, with some missteps and un-stretched legs. The characterisation needs fleshing out, too, and the dramatic configuration of the ballet needs attention – at present it is little more than incidental background to the performances.

The second act, set in the workshop of mad Dr Coppelius, made up for the disappointment of the first in energy and comic verve; the dancers began to demonstrate their skills and even the staging seemed more atmospheric and better lit. Coppelia is a ballerina’s ballet – a showcase for the talents of the female dancers – and Kristina Terentieva as Swanilda and Coppelia was the undisputed star of the show. There were some wonderful moments of interplay between Dr Coppelius and Swanilda, masquerading as Coppelia. Her doll-like movements were perfectly judged, and as Dr Coppelius sent Franz’s life force into his beloved ‘daughter’, the increasing fluidity of her dancing was a joy to watch. Her balances were excellent, she was confident and charming in her solos, her dancing light, precise and delicate.

The male lead, Franz, played by her husband Alexei Terentiev, had little to do, and only really lit up during the pas de deux, when he showed great care and tenderness, generously supporting Terentieva and ensuring that she was shown to best effect.
The narrative of the third act was rather perfunctory: Coppelius’s ‘fury’ at the damage caused to his workshop by Swanilda and her friends seemed more pique than passion, and the ensemble pieces that followed were pretty enough, though lacking the panache to set the pulse racing. The exception was the Peace pas de deux which the Terentievs performed with beautiful fluidity, and brought some real feeling into an otherwise emotionally sterile performance. This, at least, brought a roar of approval from the audience.


Reviewed by Margaret Murphy


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