Monday, April 16, 2012

Roving Pittsburgher Report, Coppelia, Pittsburgh Ballet


April 13 to 15, 2012

Benedum Center

by Jo Ann Forrester

Alexandra Kochis and Christopher Budzynski
rehearse for Coppelia. Photo taken by Aimee Waltz
Friday the 13th a lucky night for me to go see the world class Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre perfrom Coppelia with the Pittsburgh Symphony orchestra.  Unfortunately as we watched the ballet, our Pittsburgh Penguins were not winning and their performance was not as top notched  as the ballet. 

Now as I write this review you must understand I am not well versed in all the ballet terminology, I am just someone who likes to watch the ballet and follow the story line.  Coppelia is a  light hearted ballet, filled with excellent dancing, standard boy/ girl romance, usual mix up of boy & girl, then makeup and then marriage.. AND happily ever after, oh the happily ever after, my favorite part. 

Act 1 the hero (Franz) , found himself attracted to this quiet serious young woman who sits in the toymakers window (Dr. Coppelius) ,  Franz is engaged to Swanhilde a charming and captivating and somewhat rambunctious young woman..but finds himself intrigued by who is not responding to him.  The role of Franz was danced by Christopher Budzynski who is quite enjoyable to watch, has great body language and plays the  role with great enthusiasm, skill and a flair for comedy.

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's Coppelia.
Photo by Rich Sofranko
Our heronine, Swanhilde, danced by Alexandra Kochis is delightful, not only for her dance expertise, but she has a personal spark that brings fun and charm to the role.    
So the mixup occurs..girl is mad at boy..boy tries to make up and is spurned. So of course, he has to go drinking and then decides to find out about this “unknown woman and sneak into the toymakers home.

There are two intermissions great for people watching.   During the first intermission I noticed men huddled off in a corner with their smart phones..getting the score for the Penguins game. They were happy…surely we would  win..right?

I enjoyed also watching the number of little girls who were there to see Coppelia. They get more dressed up than the adults.  Wish the adults would take a cue from them. 

Act 2. 
The toymaker is gone, Swanhilde  and girl friends are exploring his house and toy shop.  Franz is hidden.  Suddenly toymaker comes back and chaos breaks out.  Most of the friends escape except for Swanhilde and Franz.  The plot thickens  Dr. Coppelius tries to make his beloved toy doll(daughter in his heart) come alive through magical incantations.  Energy enthusiasm, comedy and  trickery abound.  Finally Franz and Swanhilde escape the clutches of Dr. Coppelius and a celebration occurs.

Intermission 2.. The little girls were all giggles and smiles…they loved it.

But those men who were huddled in the corner were not.  Penguins were now tied.  What happened?…Score was now Penguins 4  Flyers 5.  Bell rang ending intermission and our male audience returns reluctantly  and heavily sighs as they sit down. 

Act 3.  Wedding, celebration, fantastic dancing by troupe, principals, Dr. Coppelius good actor and dancer! 

Conclusion… a wonderful  ballet, orchestra outstanding, a treat for all ages and  a wonderful way to spend a winning evening!

Post conclusion:  Penguins lost 8 to 5.  Ballet much happier ending!

Moral of this story, guys you can tivo the game but you can’t tivo romance.  Your time would be better spent taking your wife, girlfriend or significant other to the ballet.  The Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre is probably the most taken for granted and under-participated in cultural event in our city, we certainly need to change that. Even if you don’t know what a pirouette is you can watch one and it will probably make your heart sing.

JoAnn Forrester is the Host of Empress of Biz, Reinvent in Rugged Times, a business Talkcast syndicated on PPLMag, Pittsburgh's First Internet Radio and TV Network.  You can hear JoAnn at Business friends every Thursday at 9 AM on the TalkShoe network or archived later at:

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