Cincinnati Ballet presents Coppélia for the first time in 15 years, October 21 through 23 at the Aronoff Center. This comedic story of love and mistaken identities features the technically challenging and charming original choreography of former Cincinnati Ballet resident choreographer Kirk Peterson. The treasured ballet classic is set to a melodic score by French composer Léo Delibes, played by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Carmon DeLeone.
Legendary choreographer George Balanchine said, “Just as Giselle is ballet’s great tragedy, so Coppélia is its great comedy.” Coppélia is based on original stories by E.T.A. Hoffman in which a toymaker, Dr. Coppélius, creates a doll (Coppélia) so lifelike that a young villager, Franz, becomes infatuated with her from afar. This causes a quarrel with his fiancé Swanhilda, who decides to investigate further, discovering that Coppélia is actually a doll. Swanhilda then acts as the doll and pretends to come to life, tricking Dr. Coppélius, and revealing to Franz the error of his ways. “This ballet really has it all. Humor, a love triangle, a bit of magic and tons of really impressive dancing. It has been performed all over the world by every top ballet company,” says Artistic Director & CEO Victoria Morgan.
Coppélia was last performed by Cincinnati Ballet in 2001. This masterwork was originally choreographed by Arthur St. Léon in Paris in 1870. It was restaged by Marius Petipa in St. Petersburg in 1884 and has since experienced countless interpretations. “Kirk Peterson’s rendition is classical technique based and infused with his humor and good spirit,” says Morgan. “It is such a delight to welcome him back to Cincinnati and to present his engaging, fun, technically stunning Coppélia. It’s an excellent ballet for aficionados and newcomers alike, and I know our brilliant dancers will perform this production beautifully.”
Kirk Peterson was a resident choreographer for Cincinnati Ballet from 2001 to 2009. Audiences may remember his productions of Carmen, The Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, Javelin, The Eyes That Gently Touch, Amazed in Burning Dreams and Leda and Zeus (The Swan). He has had a distinguished career, spending 17 years with American Ballet Theatre as Principal dancer, choreographer and Artistic Director of ABTII, and was a Principal Dancer with San Francisco Ballet, The National Ballet of Washington and London Festival Ballet. He has also served as Artistic Director of the Hartford Ballet and Associate Artistic Director of Alberta Ballet, and has created more than 50 ballets, performed by San Francisco Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, The National Ballet of Cuba, Washington Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, BalletMet and The Royal Ballet School. He is a specialist in re-staging the full-length classical repertoire such as Giselle, Don Quixote, The Sleeping Beauty and most recently Swan Lake for Alberta Ballet and Washington Ballet. He is also known for his original versions of The Nutcracker and Coppélia.
Composer Léo Delibes (1836-1891) was renowned as a composer for ballet; he had a gift for illustrating action, creating mood, introducing characters and inspiring movement. The score for Coppélia has captivated audiences for more than 100 years, and is one of Music Director Carmon DeLeone’s favorite scores. He says, “I do love the music of Coppélia, and the story is even more satisfying than The Nutcracker. But don’t just take my word for it — the famous composer Tchaikovsky said that his own music for Swan Lake was “not fit to hold a candle to Sylvia” (another ballet by Delibes). Then, after discovering Coppélia, Tchaikovsky praised it even more than Sylvia, and used it as a model for The Nutcracker.”
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