Review: Coppelia

23152_sRichard Lutz watches the original Living Doll at Birmingham Hippodrome.

Stories abound about the magician who wants to re-create life: Frankenstein, Faust, even the replicants in Bladerunner. And to make it a good story, something has to go wrong.

Coppelia, produced by The Birmingham Royal Ballet, is about a madcap inventor who wants to breathe life into his own living doll. Set in a romanticised Mid-European village, the local lover Franz falls for the lifeless creation as she is sits, propped, on a balcony.


9035_sAnd then things go a bit haywire.

The ballet, with music by Leo Delibes, is a great conventional comic work. And BRB plays the neat trick by offering the Coppelia role to Japanese dancer Miki Mizutani and the role of local beauty Swanilda to the elegant Japanese prima donna Momoko Hirata. It creates the edgy dualistic question of which of these twins is more real, more attractive, to local lad Franz (Cesar Morales) as he switches his heart from the flesh and blood to the lifeless.

Credit to Peter Farmer’s lovely lakeside settings with its overwhelming village exteriors. And hats off to Michael O’Hare as the wacky professor who has to wrestle between his own love for his lab creation and his macabre leanings to breathe life into her by lifting the life-spirit from a drunken Franz.

Coppelia runs until 28th February and offers a 19th century ballet that probably hasn’t changed much since its premiere more than a century and a half ago in the theatres of Paris. It is light, fun and a visual delight. And when taken with last week’s BRB offering of the fast and relentless Moving Stateside, shows the company’s full range