Hull New Theatre – until 11 January 2020
Reviewed by Catherine McWilliams
The Russian State Ballet of Siberia is currently on tour (until mid-March) with a variety of ballets at each venue, and last night at Hull New Theatre I had the pleasure of seeing Coppélia.
Coppélia is a light and frothy piece, full of fun and quirkiness, whilst at the same time crammed with superb dancing. The music is by Léo Delibes and is full of wonderful melodies, many of which you will recognise. This performance was a real ray of sunshine to take us away from the winter.
Coppélia is set in a 19th century village in Galicia, where Franz ((Yury Kudryavtsev) is to marry Swanilda (Anna Fedosova). Franz spots a beautiful girl sitting on a balcony and cannot take his eyes off her, Swanilda is very unhappy with Franz and the pair argue. The beautiful girl is in fact a life-like mechanical doll, Coppélia (Nerea Astorga) created by Dr Coppélius the toymaker (Alexander Kuimov). Later Swanilda and her friends sneak into the workshop of Dr Coppélius, where they find the mechanical dolls and discover that Coppélia is also a doll. Franz also enters the workshop and Dr Coppélius returns, chasing the girls out and seeing his chance to use Franz’s life-force to bring Coppélia to life. However Swanilda has changed into Coppélia’s clothes and the lovers escape. Of course all ends happily with the village celebrating the marriage of Franz and Swanilda.
Choreography is by Alexander Gorsky and Gennady Malkhasiants and is fabulous, the dancers are shown off to their best, whether dancing a solo or in the wonderful pieces when the villagers are dancing.
Yury Kudryavtsev is mesmerising as Franz, I could not take my eyes off him from the moment he entered the stage for the first time. He had a real presence, acting his character superbly and dancing beautifully, definitely one to watch in the future. There was a real connection with Swanilda (Anna Fedosova) and their dances together were a highlight, particularly when the pair were arguing, making us laugh out loud.
Anna Fedosova was a wonderful Swanilda, acting and dancing beautifully, we really felt her frustration with Franz! Her dance as Coppélia was fabulous, as was her solo piece in the 2nd Act, I don’t know the technical term for the turns she was doing but the speed and the number were breathtaking.
Alexander Kuimov made for a wonderfully eccentric Dr. Coppélius, and his performance was full of humour.
I loved the pieces danced by the villagers in the first act, they were such fun. The action in Coppélia takes place in the first act and the second act is an opportunity to show off the skills of the Company, and oh my word what wonderful dancing it was. This is a company with acting skills to match their dancing and what I particularly loved was that the dancers were clearly enjoying this performance as much as the audience.
The music was provided by The Russian State Ballet Orchestra, conducted by Anatoliy Cherpurnoy and was superbly played. It is always a real treat to have a live orchestra providing the music for a ballet and I was delighted that Anatoliy Cherpurnoy took a bow with the Company at the end of the performance.
The sets and costumes were designed by Dmitry Tcherbadzhi, and the sets were very simple but very effective. The costumes were very traditional, however, they had some unexpected touches such as flashes of neon and applique patterning on the tutus and little hats that would have graced a catwalk.
This performance of Coppélia left me uplifted and smiling, it was wonderful to sit and be immersed in beautiful dancing and music and to feel the joy that the dancers clearly felt as they performed. I can thoroughly recommend a visit to watch a performance by The Russian State Ballet of Siberia.