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Classical Sprouts: 'Coppélia'

The Music Man Broadway program art 1957.jpg

This week on Classical Sprouts, we're talking about a ballet with a story that's a little bit unusual . . .

Coppélia, written by Léo Delibes, was based on a story by E. T. A. Hoffman.

You've almost certainly heard of Hoffman's work before, though you may not know it - he wrote the story behind The Nutcracker!

Delibes, a French composer born in 1836, worked with librettist Charles-Louis-Étienne Nuitter to create Coppélia.

If you attended a performance of Coppélia, you would have received a program that included the ballet's unusual story so that you could follow along with the action onstage.

See what the programs looked like here!

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The music Delibes wrote for Coppélia also reflected what was happening onstage.

He chose instrumentations carefully to reflect or enhance the story's mood and represented characters, locations or ideas musically through melodies called leitmotifs.

Delibes also incorporated folk music in the ballet, with dances like the Hungarian csárdás, Spanish bolero and Scottish gigue.

In the story, Coppélia is a lifelike doll created by and named after Dr. Copélius, an inventor.

Apparently Coppélia was a little too real, because a young townsman named Franz - who was already engaged to a woman named Swanhilda - falls in love with her!

Swanhilda knows better, though, and she reveals the truth about Coppélia, saving Franz from some major trouble!

Listen to the episode to learn more about this fun, quirky - and slightly creepy - ballet!

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We also have an Instagram! For classical music facts, tips for parents of mini-musicians and more, follow @classicalsprouts.

Classical Sprouts is produced by Emily Duncan Wilson. Kacie Brown is the digital content manager.

Kate Botello is a host and producer at Classical IPR.
Emily Duncan Wilson produces the Classical Sprouts podcast.