Delibes’ ballet is about a doll named Coppelia, who sits on her balcony all day reading and never speaking to anyone. A boy named Franz falls deeply in love with her and wants to marry her, even though he is already engaged to another woman. His fiancée decides to take action by pretending she’s the doll, in order to gain back his love.
What makes such a dull, artificial doll so mesmerizing, turning lovers apart? Are those the eyes—that are bewitching Coppelia’s lover, or is it his fiancée hiding inside the doll? Coppélia was based on German writer E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story “Der Sandmann”(1816; “The Sandman”), a dark psychological fantasy concerning a man’s destructive infatuation for a lifelike mechanical doll. The approach here explores that dark and eerie side of the story, instead of Delibes' musing and sweet-tempered version.