wed 03/03/2021

The wonders of Delibes | reviews, news & interviews

The wonders of Delibes

The wonders of Delibes

Before Covent Garden's performance of Manon the other day, I had always presumed I'd rather have my eyes out than listen to an entire opera by Massenet. How wrong I was. This Saturday I hope to be proved wrong again, when my colleague on theartsdesk David Nice will attempt to open my ears to another great French worshipper of the pretty in music, the first true master of ballet music before Tchaikovsky, Léo Delibes - whose music I've been even more studious in avoiding.
David has spent the last three weeks listening to different versions of the complete ballet of Coppélia for this week's Building a Library slot on BBC Radio 3's CD Review. You can hear the results on Saturday morning, or use the BBC iPlayer to hear the programme over the subsequent week.
David also watched the available DVDs of the choreography, and was pleasantly surprised by French choreographer Maguy Marin's radical take for the Lyon Opera ballet (picture, above; video, below). She sets the action on a council estate, and only uses most of the music from the first two of the three acts, but she keeps the essence of the plot - a foolish young man's infatuation with a mechanical doll which leads to his rejection of his fiancee. In Marin's second act, the Coppélias multiply and turn the tables on the two men who've turned them into fantasy objects.
Watch a clip from Maguy Marin's radical take on Coppélia

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