What is the difference between a lifeless doll moving mechanically and the true passion of human engagement?
This classical question posed in Coppelia is answered with the power of love in an Australian setting through this production by the Queensland Ballet. Choreographer Greg Horsman sets the action in the small German and Scottish immigrant village of Hahndorf in South Australia, thus giving an Aussie relevance to the classic tale of Dr Coppelius, broken-hearted at the death of his daughter Coppelia.
Sarah Thompson is simply brilliant as Swanilda Hoffman. It is seldom that one sees such a senior role given not to a principal dancer, nor to a soloist but simply to one of the Company dancers. Sarah Thompson’s tour de force is not only a triumph for herself but is an illustration of the depth of talent in the Queensland Ballet. Sarah Thompson shines as a true star amidst the firmament of Australian ballet. We may look forward to her brilliant career.
As Swanilda she creates the dramatic tension when her boyfriend Franz (danced ably by Hao Bin) appears to flirt with Dr Coppelius’ daughter, Coppelia (who is in fact a life-size doll).
Swanilda’s girlfriends, including the irrepressible Teri Crilly, brim with the energy of youth in a rural colonial Australian village.
Swanilda’s parents, particularly her mother danced by Jeanette Mulligan, lend grace and continuity to the drama. The great Rachael Walsh dances the character role of Mrs Angus with beauty and empathy.
It is indeed a delight to hear the Camerata of St John’s perform the music of Leo Delibes, as arranged by the conductor Andrew Mogrelia. They lend richness and texture to the familiar melodies of Delibes’ music.
This is the world premiere season of this co-production by the Queensland Ballet with the West Australian Ballet. It is delectation not to be missed.
Artistic director: Li Cunxin
Choreographer: Greg Horsman
Music by Leo Delibes
Orchestral arrangement by Andrew Mogrelia
Conductor: Andrew Mogrelia
Set designer: Hugh Colman
Costume designer: Noelene Hill
Lighting designer: John Buswell
Camerata of St Johns: leader, Brendan Joyce
Performances: 24 April to 10 May 2014