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DANCE: The English National Ballet performs Coppelia

The English National Ballet performs Coppelia in Southampton 21-26 Oct, and then tours to Manchester, Leeds and Nottingham

Sad old Doctor Coppelius, reluctant to place a small ad, rustles up his ideal woman in his workshop. Pretty, poised and literate, she sits every day on the balcony at the front of his house, her retrousse nose buried in a book. But village belle Swanilda and her fiance Franz are determined to investigate further. Nosey Swanilda sneaks into Coppelius's bachelor pad and after running riot among his mechanical toys, discovers that her charming rival is in fact a mechanical doll. She mischievously takes the doll's place and on the old man's return convinces him that his creation has come to life. His sadness on discovering that his dream date is only a doll after all is washed away by the glutinously happy ending and large cash hand-outs from the village mayor.

Saint Leon's sugar-coated take on Pygmalion/Galatea was based on Hoffmann's dark fable The Sandman. Classical productions of the ballet seldom touch on the darker aspects of the story but why should they? Ronald Hynd's pretty and enduringly popular production uses Desmond Heeley's picture book designs, perfectly suited to the dinky Ruritanian setting. And, under new musical director Patrick Flynn, Delibes's delicious score makes it a ballet you can enjoy with your eyes closed.