Wichita Grand Opera
Century II Concert Hall
225 W. Douglas Ave.
Wichita , Kansas 67202
316.683.3444 Admin Office
316.262.8054 Box Office
The Scene: Seville, Spain in the 1820’s
(Production and Artists subject to Change)
In a small picturesque village in 19th Century Central Europe, Doctor Coppelius is a toymaker who makes wonderfully life-like mechanical dolls and dreams of one day giving them real life. His crowning achievement is 'Coppélia', a doll so life-like he passes her off as his daughter, placing her in a chair on his balcony reading a book. A young maiden by the name of Swanilda enters the village, and upon seeing her fiance Franz approaching, hides in order to surprise him, but is angered when Franz notices the beautiful Coppélia and begins to flirt with her. Coppelius notices Franz's interest in his doll, and activates her so that she waves back at him; this simple act of fancy ignites a tale fraught with romance and comedy as Swanilda sets out to teach Franz a sharp lesson about fidelity and Coppelius sets out to imbue his ‘daughter’ with life.
Léo Delibes: Arnold, Denis and Andrew Lamb. "Delibes, (Clément Philibert) Léo." The Oxford Companion to Music. Ed. Alison Latham. Oxford Music Online. 18 Aug. 2009 . As a child, French composer Léo Delibes received musical training from his mother and uncle. After his father's death in 1847 the family moved to Paris and he entered the Conservatoire, where he studied the organ and composition. A chorister at the Madeleine church, he sang in the premiere of Meyerbeer's Le Prophète at the Opéra in 1849 and, from the age of 17, was organist at various churches. His early compositions included one-act operettas for Offenbach's Bouffes-Parisiens, of which Deux vieilles gardes enjoyed particular success. He wrote music criticism under the anagrammatic name Éloi Delbès, and became chorus master at the Théâtre Lyrique (where he worked on Gounod's Faust) and later at the Opéra.
In 1866 Delibes first gained wide attention for the ballet La Source, written jointly with Léon Minkus. He also composed a ‘Pas des fleurs’ for Adam's ballet score Le Corsaire in 1867, and this was later combined with Delibes's half of La Source to form the ballet Naila. In 1869 he composed his final operetta, La Cour du roi Pétaud, after which the Opéra staged his most celebrated creation, the classic ballet Coppélia. Its success enabled him from 1871 to concentrate fully on composition, including the further full-scale ballet success Sylvia. This led directly to his decoration as a Chevalier of the Légion d'Honneur in 1876. His operas Le Roi l'a dit, Jean de Nivelle, and Lakmé, the last named an essay in the then popular ‘French oriental’ style, ensured even greater honours.
Delibes also composed a set of period dances for Victor Hugo's Le Roi s'amuse, various choruses, and songs including the brilliant soprano bolero Les Filles de Cadiz. His last opera, Kassya, based on a story by Sacher Masoch and orchestrated after his death by Massenet, was an attempt at something more weighty; but it is his lightness of touch, melodic facility, deftness of theme, and orchestration that ensure his music's survival.