Gillian Murphy and Jared Matthews gave a very enjoyable and solid performance in ABT’s Saturday evening performance of Coppélia. Gillian and Jared were in synch with each other in the various dances and pulled off the intricate pantomime work throughout the ballet. In addition to enjoying a first-rate performance, I was surprised and fortunate to sit next to ABT Soloist Stella Abrera; by her enthusiastic applause in Act I, she also enjoyed the performance.
The ABT version was staged by Frederic Franklin after Nicholas Sergeyev. The cheerful comedy ballet is based on the story by E.T.A Hoffmann. Coppélia is a life-sized doll created by an old, mad, and cranky scientist, Dr. Coppelius, in a village in Galicia. Franz, a village swain, takes a liking to the life-like doll, much to the dismay of his true love Swanilda. In an effort to win back Franz, Swanilda sneaks into Dr. Coppelius’ workshop, discovers Coppélia the doll, and switches places with her. Swanilda ultimately saves Franz from Dr. Coppelius in his workshop and all is forgiven. The wedding celebration is the third act.
Gillian was very expressive as Swanilda, exhibiting a range of emotions throughout; she was distraught and cranky when she discovered Franz’s straying eyes as he fell in love with a life-like doll; frightened when she entered Dr. Coppelius’ workshop, and defiant when defending Franz from Dr. Coppelius. Her technical parts were stellar, particularly pirouettes and several balances in the third act pas de deux. In her third act solo, she performed traditional fouettés in addition to difficult turns in attitude devant (leg bent in front).
Jared as Franz also had a strong performance. His solo in the third act featured nice double tours and a solid a la seconde turn section punctuated by four pirouettes to a double tour to the knee.
Roman Zhurbin skillfully portrayed the grumpy, rickety, mad scientist. He stands out at ABT in dramatic roles. The third act celebrates Swanilda and Frantz’s wedding and features Devon Teusher (Dawn) and Luciana Paris (Prayer). I haven’t seen Devon dance much and was impressed by her entrechat six. Luciana was too tentative in her Prayer solo.
Also impressive was Christine Shevchenko as the lead female in Mazurka and Czardas and was energetic throughout the dances.