This page is all about Coppélia, a comic ballet originally choreographed by Arthur Saint-Léon to the music of Léo Delibes, with a libretto by Charles Nuitter.
Nuitter’s libretto and mise-en-scène were based on two stories by ETA Hoffmann: Der Sandmann (The Sandman), and Die Puppe (The Doll).
Coppélia premiered on 25 May 1870 at the Théâtre Impérial l’Opéra, with the 16-year-old Giuseppina Bozzacchi in the principal role of Swanhilde. Its initial success was interrupted by the Franco-Prussian War and the siege of Paris – also leading to the early death of Giuseppina Bozzacchi, on her 17th birthday – but eventually it became the most-performed ballet at the Opéra.
Modern-day productions are traditionally derived from the revivals staged by Marius Petipa for the Imperial Ballet of St. Petersburg in the late 19th century. Petipa’s choreography was documented in the Stepanov method of choreographic notation at the turn of the 20th century. These notations were later used to stage the St. Petersburg version for such companies as the Vic-Wells Ballet (precursor of today’s Royal Ballet).
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