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A Premiere in the Capital: People who Play with Dolls

8 November 2019 13:47
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A Premiere in the Capital: People who Play with Dolls

NUR-SULTAN. KAZINFORM A story of love and deception, where ‘dolls are so similar to people’, inspired great choreographer Roland Petit to create the ballet Coppélia. A rare for this art comedy genre will appeal to both adults and their children. The premiere will be presented to a wide audience on November 22, 23 at the Astana Opera Grand Hall under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture and Sports of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the press service of Astana Opera informs.

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The Artistic Director of the ballet company, People’s Artist of Russia Altynai Asylmuratova initiated the staging of this ballet at the capital’s opera house.

A month before the premiere, Italian ballet master Luigi Bonino arrived to work with the Kazakh company. He performed the main part of Dr. Coppélius at the premiere at the Ballet National de Marseille in 1975, and the choreographer himself, Roland Petit, went onstage in this part until the age of 73.

When asked what makes Roland Petit’s ballet Coppélia special, Luigi Bonino replies that it is its novel nature and relevance, as if the great master staged it only yesterday.

«The choreographer got rid of all the outdated things that were used in the productions for a hundred years. Usually Dr. Coppélius is portrayed as an old man, yet here Roland Petit showed him as elegant, charming and made him truly modern. Doll-maker Coppélius is in love with the mechanical doll Coppélia, who is just an image, a likeness of the real-life beauty Swanilda. However, in the end, he is left alone not only with a broken heart, but also with the doll broken on the floor at his feet. I like this character because he is emotional, strong, charming, trying to win the hearts of all the women. Roles of this nature are difficult to perform, and therefore appealing to me. It is very difficult to perform this part after Roland Petit, because he was incredible and unique as this character. When the Maestro offered me to dance the role of Coppelius, I answered with a resounding ‘no’, because we were incredibly different. He is tall, I am short. But Petit was able to convince me. I precisely followed his choreography, but invested my own feelings, my own personality. Now I will ask the same from the Astana Opera soloists. We are doing a big job together: I explain to them the meaning of each movement, and after that I ask them to bring out their own emotions, their own personalities, so that they are not like puppet dolls,» the ballet master shares.

It is known that Roland Petit managed to combine twist and classical dance in this ballet, which became a new word in this art. According to Luigi Bonino, the choreographer always added a ‘pinch’ of humor to his productions by mixing different styles, but as for the technique, Coppélia remained a fully classical production.

Just like in any production, this ballet has its own difficulties. First and foremost, they are due to very fast choreography, especially for female dancers in the first classical variation.

«The performer of Coppélius’ part also has his own difficulties, because, although he has a few movements, he needs to show a lot of humor. The entire corps de ballet also faces this task. All of this is difficult, because it is important not to overdo it, but at the same time it is necessary to show this French humor, effervescent, like champagne. That is, the artists must have an understanding of the quality of this sparkling humor: not too much, but not too little,» Luigi Bonino added.

Despite the exciting dance numbers, an engaging love story, kind humor and funny acting moments, nevertheless, through the theme of dolls, this ballet gives the viewers an opportunity to think about tragic aspects of human nature.

The young girl Swanilda is jealous of her fiancé over a mysterious stranger, who appears every morning in the window of the house across the square. Together with her friends, she secretly enters Coppélius’ workshop, and, finding out that her rival is just a mechanical doll, dresses up in her clothes and exposes Franz’s imaginary infidelity. Ballet ends with the couple’s reconciliation and everyone celebrating.

«Coppélius brought this doll to life. He was in love with love, so to speak. Swanilda is a terrible girl, mocking him, turning him into a laughingstock. Coppélius is left sad and alone. It is rather like real life, because sometimes people can throw you and your feelings away and make you very unhappy,» said Luigi Bonino.


The ballet master admits that he likes this ballet for its blend of humor and sadness.

«I always tell people who have never watched ballet to come and watch Coppélia, which will make them fall in love with the ballet art. This is a story that is very easy to understand, suitable for both children and adults. I remember my niece, she saw Coppélia many times: in the beginning she laughs when Coppélius dances with the doll, but in the end she cries because the doll breaks and he is left alone,» Bonino concluded.

The libretto was written by Charles-Louis-Étienne Nuitter and Arthur Saint-Leon based on the short story by Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann Der Sandmann (The Sandman). Ballet Maser – Luigi Bonino, Music Director and Conductor – Arman Urazgaliyev, Set and Costume Designer – Ezio Frigerio, Assistant Costume Designer – Franca Squarciapino, Revival Costume Designer – Anna Verde. Lighting Designer and Technical Coordinator – Jean-Michel Desire. Assistant Ballet Maser – Gillian Whittingham, Assistant Set Designer – Riccardo Massironi.


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