Dance preview: Fun-filled 'Coppelia' closes PBT's season
Thrillers, adventure tales and die-for-me romances have their places in ballet. But sometimes, a feel-good, happily-ever-after hits the spot.
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre -- hot off its drama-packed "Streetcar Named Desire" -- will close its 42nd season this weekend with the lighthearted romantic comedy "Coppelia" with the orchestra at the Benedum Center, Downtown.
Based on E.T.A. Hoffmann's short stories "Der Sandmann," the ballet stages the story of village lovers Franz and Swanhilda and the humorous absurdity that unfolds when Franz becomes smitten with another gal who turns out to be a life-like doll crafted by inventor Dr. Coppelius. Paris Opera Ballet premiered it in 1870.
"It's one of my favorite classical ballets," said artistic director Terrence Orr. "It just has so much dancing in it and so much life."
Colorful sets and costumes contribute to the whimsy, which gets a boost from a lyrical score by Leo Delibes that the PBT orchestra will perform under the direction of music director Charles Barker.
"This is one of the few ballets that's just pure fun from beginning to end," said Anastasia Wovchko, a principal at the PBT School. She will portray Swanhilda's mother, one of the many character roles that help bring the hustle of the village scenes to life.
But "Coppelia" isn't just three acts of punch lines and knee-slapping chuckles. Choreography is set to show the characters have heart.
"I try to make a moral to it and make people have a little sympathy for Dr. Coppelius," Mr. Orr said.
This combination of humor and humanity gives the work broad appeal.
"This is for young lovers, this is for children, this is for families and husbands and wives," Mr. Orr said.
First Published April 11, 2012 9:49 am