Artfully Edmonds: ‘Coppélia’ comes to life at Olympic Ballet Theatre this weekend


    By Ellen Chappelle

    Olympic Ballet Theatre celebrates its 30th anniversary this weekend with the classic comedic ballet “Coppélia, the Girl with Enamel Eyes.”

    Following that age-old theme of an eccentric inventor who dreams of having his creation come alive, Dr. Coppélius has created Coppélia, a life-sized, mechanical dancing doll. As he dreams of finding a way to bring his cold creation to life, boys in the village fall in love with the quiet but lovely girl sitting high on a balcony – including Franz, who is engaged to Swanhilda.

    Upset that her beau is entranced by this stranger, Swanhilda sneaks into the doctor’s house to meet the girl. She is surprised by the return of Dr. Coppélius and Franz, who also seeks to meet Coppélia, and she hides behind a curtain. Dr. Coppélius drugs Franz with the intent of transferring his life force into Coppélia, making her finally alive. Dressed as the doll, Swanhilda emerges and the doctor believes his greatest dream has indeed come true.

    Swanhilda reveals herself and, rescuing Franz, rushes off to prepare for their wedding. The doctor demands reparation for damages Swanhilda caused and her father pays him. In the end, all is well as the village celebrates Franz and Swanhilda’s marriage.

    Making its premiere at the Paris Opera in May 1870, Coppélia is hardly a new ballet. But the talented OBT staff spent the past five years breathing new life into the old doll with fresh choreography by incoming Artistic Directors Oleg Gorboulev and Mara Vinson, as well as entrancing new costumes by Margaretha Preston and a sparkling new set design by former Universal Studios set designer Hita von Mende.

    The weekend of performances also marks the end of 30 successful years under the passionate and watchful eye of Artistic Director Helen Wilkins, who is set to retire in June.

    The original ballet was much more than just a beautiful, light-hearted piece. It was a groundbreaking departure from the typically sad and serious romantic ballets of the time and, as such, it immediately captured Parisian audiences. It also served as the final success of the Paris Opera, which declined soon after as ballet fell from popularity and Paris lost its hold on the title of the world’s dance capital.

    Join in the fun this weekend as the Olympic Ballet Theatre becomes part of the long, storied tradition of one of the world’s most beloved ballets.

    “Coppélia, the Girl with Enamel Eyes” will be performed at 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, April 16 and 3 p.m. Sunday, April 17 at the Edmonds Center for the Arts. Tickets are $20 for children 10 and under, $25 for students through high school and seniors, and $30 for adults. Service charges apply and all seats are reserved.

    Tickets for all performances may be purchased by calling ShowClix at 1-888-71TICKETS or online at

    Ellen Chappelle covers the local arts scene for My Edmonds News. She brings a life-long interest in the arts and many years of writing experience to the task, detailing upcoming performances, local art events and stories of Edmonds artists. A theatre and journalism major, she has toured with a professional theatre company and performed on a cruise ship. She has also served as the Pacific Northwest Regional Editor of Dog Magazine and the Seattle Dogs Examiner for Since then, Ellen has been busy writing and editing for artists and small businesses, publishing an informational site for dog owners and creating handcrafted jewelry. Please keep her posted about all things artistic in Edmonds by emailing her at


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