Pacific Northwest Ballet pulled out all the stops with their latest production of George Balanchine’s, Coppelia. This fantastic production features all new lavishly designed (read: gorgeous!) sets, to die for costumes, and of course the high-caliber artistry that PNB is world-famous for.
Saturday’s matinee featured Lesley Rausch as Swanilda/Coppelia, Jerome Tisserand as Franz, and Olivier Wevers as Dr. Coppelius. Right off the bat, I have to give serious applause to Rausch for her outstanding interpretation. She not only delighted everyone in the audience with her arrogance and saucy attitude, but she transported us into the heart of her character. Sure, Swanilda isn’t the nicest of young ladies, but her love for Franz is evident, even when faced with the sting of rejection.
- Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist Lesley Rausch with PNB School students and PNB company members in PNB’s premiere production of Coppélia: Choreography by Alexandra Danilova and George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust (after Marius Petipa). Photo © Angela Sterling
Jerome Tisserand’s Franz was perfectly executed. Like Rausch, he had a way drawing me in, making me feel almost as fed up with Swanilda’s antics as he was. His attitude was a perfect blend of inflated ego meets young playboy looking for love. After discovering that his love interest is only a doll, one would expect Franz to act a bit more sheepish over his foolish behavior. (I mean, seriously!) However, Tisserand remains true to character and Franz casually glosses over that “minor faux pas” with a sudden profession of love for Swanilda, which of course, she accepts.
Olivier Wevers deserved the standing ovation he received for his performance as the highly eccentric, slightly creepy, Dr. Coppelius. How it is Wevers can pull such multi-faceted characters out of his back pocket is beyond me! His Dr. Coppelius was a thrilling “yin and yang”; an absent-minded and lonely old man, whose walking stick doubles as a handy weapon against “the wild hooligans” of the town. But underneath that “grumpy old man” veneer lurks a borderline-fiendish soul.
Act three’s splendid cast also deserves special mention. I was most impressed by Carrie Imler’s “Dawn” and Sarah Ricard Orza’s “Prayer”. These dancers gave equally passionate and exquisite performances. Imler was a vision of dazzling sunlight–bright, confident and striking. Ricard Orza danced “Like a fairy tale princess!” (to quote the little one sitting next to me) with her flowing port de bras and delicate phrasing. The action-packed “Discord and War” featured Batkhurel Bold and Lindsi Dec entering the stage like wild flashes of lightning dressed in silvery armor. As always, the power behind these two striking dancers takes your breath away. Their amazing turns and leaps were all done whilst holding long spears–none of which whacked anyone else nor made kabobs out of their thighs. (An acrobatic feat of epic proportions, especially when you consider how clumsy the rest of is–read: yours truly!–would be in the same situation.)
PNB’s Coppelia is filled with good natured humor, an outstanding cast, and delicious imagery. If you haven’t yet made your way to McCaw Hall to catch the “Happiest Ballet on Earth!”, I would highly suggest that you do so. Like…today!
Coppelia runs from June 3rd-13th. Tickets are available by visiting PNB.org.
By Denise Opper