Colorado Ballet presents


march 8 - 17, 2024 • ELLIE CAULKINS OPERA HOUSE

When a life-sized doll comes between two village lovers, a young woman dances to the rescue, saving her betrothed from a scheming inventor. For the first time in 15 years, Colorado Ballet presents Coppélia, a comedic ballet based on two short stories by E.T.A. Hoffmann, author of The Nutcracker and The Mouse King. Renowned for its charming blend of humor and classical sensibility, Coppélia is a whimsical story of love and mistaken identity. Colorado Ballet’s adaptation features original choreography after Arthur Saint-Léon, staged by Ballet Masters Sandra Brown, Lorita Travaglia and Maria Mosina, set to the music of Léo Delibes.




The curtain rises on the square of a small European town several hundred years ago. A lovely young girl, Coppélia, is seen sitting on a balcony reading a book as Swanhilda enters. Swanhilda looks up at a girl, tries to attract her attention, but receives no reply. Franz, Swanhilda's lover, comes into the square and blows a kiss to the beautiful Coppélia. She ignores him, too, and continues unconcerned with her book. However, Swanhilda has seen these attentions of her lover to another pretty girl. Franz is a very busy young man, assuring Swanhilda that he is not faithless and his affections are hers alone. Still jealous, Swanhilda refuses to believe him and runs away as a group of young people interrupts their quarrel.

The bürgermeister/mayor enters to announce that at a celebration the following day, the Lord of the Manor will present dowries to all couples who wish to marry. Asked if she will marry Franz, the pouting Swanhilda puts a sheaf of corn to her ear. Thus, according to old custom, the corn will tell her if her lover is faithful or not. Sadly, she says the sheaf is silent. The other couples, however, are delighted at the bürgermeister's good news and dance until night falls when they must leave for home. Dr. Coppelius comes out, locks his door, and is immediately swirled away by a boisterous band of revelers. In the excitement, he drops the key to his shop. Swanhilda and her friends appear and finding the key, they are filled with curiosity about the strange doctor and enter his shop. Dr. Coppelius returns, sees his door open and darts in. Franz enters carrying a ladder, which he uses to climb on to Coppélia's balcony.


The curtain rises on the dimly lit interior of Dr. Coppelius' shop – a room full of life-like, life-size dolls. Swanhilda pokes her head into an alcove only to discover that Coppélia is not a living, breathing woman, but actually one of Dr. Coppelius' life-size dolls. One of Swanhilda's friends jars a doll who dances until its clockwork runs down. The amazed young intruders then wind up all the dolls who dance, as the friends watch, enchanted. Suddenly, a furious Dr. Coppelius enters and everyone except Swanhilda flees. She runs into the alcove where Coppélia is kept. At the same time, Dr. Coppelius apprehends the faithless Franz entering by the window. Franz pleads his love for the beautiful Coppélia. Dr. Coppelius pretends to listen with interest while he entices Franz with several well-doctored drinks. When the unsuspecting Franz passes out, Dr. Coppelius brings what he thinks is his fabulous doll Coppélia from her alcove. However, it is Swanhilda who, overhearing Franz's declaration of love for Coppélia, has changed places with the doll. The doctor makes some magical gestures over Swanhilda as she awkwardly rises to dance. The deluded Dr. Coppelius believes his puppet has come to life.

Swanhilda dances on and on, creating havoc in the room and upsetting all the doctor's work. Franz, who has just revived, dashes out of the room chased by Dr. Coppelius. Eluding the doctor, Franz returns to watch the proceedings with glee until, finally, he and Swanhilda run out, leaving the shop in a shambles. Dr. Coppelius returns to discover the figure of Coppélia lying in her chair, divested of clothes, and realizes that he has been deceived.


The curtain rises on the final act, which is again set in the village square. Franz and Swanhilda, now reconciled, approach the bürgermeister to receive their dowries and be married. Dr. Coppelius storms in, accusing the lovers of destroying his life's work. Swanhilda, realizing the justness of his claim, offers him her dowry, but the bürgermeister gives Dr. Coppelius a bag of gold and sends him off. The townspeople then participate in the fete that unites Swanhilda and Franz in a happy marriage.


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