Coppélia is a jaw-dropping, contemporary rework of the much-loved original tale that took the 2022 Edinburgh International Festival by storm, wowing critics and audiences alike.
What does it mean to be human in a world of artificial intelligence?
This thrilling version of the ballet, which tells the story of Silicon Valley’s hottest new inventor Dr Coppélius and his latest AI creation ‘Coppélia’, is choreographed and directed by UK-based duo Morgann Runacre-Temple and Jessica Wright (known as Jess and Morgs), building on their previous award-winning film works for Scottish Ballet, Tremble and The Secret Theatre.
Expect Jess and Morgs’ trademark humour, with sharp, witty solos, beautiful pas de deux and exhilarating full ensemble scenes paired with cinematic live projections. The original Delibes score is reimagined as part of an extraordinary new composition by Mikael Karlsson and Michael P Atkinson, performed live with vigour by the Scottish Ballet Orchestra.
Breaking down the boundaries of dance, theatre and film, this pioneering adaptation warps audiences’ sense of reality, leaving them wondering what is real and what is artificial, as they are lured into Dr Coppelius’ world of robots and clones.
Last performed: Coppélia was last performed in spring 2023. For current productions, visit our What’s On page.
Scottish Ballet premiere: August 2022 (World Premiere)
Direction & Choreography: Morgann Runacre-Temple & Jessica Wright
Dramaturgy & Written Text: Jeff James
Music: Léo Delibes, Mikael Karlsson, Michael P Atkinson
Set & Lighting: Bengt Gomér
Projection & Video: Will Duke
Costumes: Annemarie Woods
Associate Projection & Video: Hayley Egan
Art Direction: Sami Fendall
Winner: Best Classical Choreography – National Dance Awards, 2023
Nomination: Best Dance – Sky Arts Awards 2023
‘Thrilling…full of infectious energy’
‘Ambitious and punchy…a ground-breaking production’
‘A bold, provocative, truly trail-blazing production’
‘A blistering, glossy blockbuster’
‘A gorgeous, inventive sci-fi extravaganza’
‘Sexy, sassy… Everything about this production is stunning’
The Wee Review
Dr Coppelius is Silicon Valley’s hottest new inventor and entrepreneur: the founder and CEO of ‘NuLife’. Swanhilda, a journalist, has arrived at NuLife to interview Dr Coppelius about his latest creation – a revolutionary piece of Artificial Intelligence which he calls ‘Coppélia’. Swanhilda has brought her fiancé Franz along for the ride.
Dr Coppelius makes his keynote address, attempting to show how his Coppélia technology can move off the screen to exist in the material world. But the presentation fails: to his frustration, the robot malfunctions. Despite this failure, Swanhilda notices that her fiancé Franz is powerfully drawn to Coppélia. He is distracted, possessed even.
Swanhilda’s own curiosity about the lab propels her deep into the murky web of NuLife. Leaving Franz asleep, Swanhilda sneaks off to wander the corridors, stumbling upon experiments and creatures in the depths of the laboratory.
Despite the setback of the keynote, Dr Coppelius starts the next day with renewed vigour, suspecting that Franz’s desire for Coppélia may hold the key to bringing her to life. Swanhilda interviews Dr Coppelius for a second time and asks him why people would want to have a relationship with a robot. Dr Coppelius asks Swanhilda why anyone would want to have a relationship with a human.
The lab that never sleeps starts to party. Drunk on their own inspiration and power, the young NuLife scientists fantasise about creating artificial life. As Swanhilda plans to escape, the party closes in around her. Franz is nowhere to be seen. Stealing away from the mob, Swanhilda makes her way to the innermost chamber of NuLife, where she finds Coppélia. Swanhilda realises that she herself could provide a material body for the AI. She slips inside the machine and becomes Coppélia.
Meanwhile, Franz is hunting for Coppélia, the enigmatic screen image with whom he is now completely obsessed. Dr Coppelius tracks and captures Franz, believing he is the missing piece to his puzzle: Franz’s life force can be passed on to his creation Coppélia. Dr Coppelius captures Franz and plugs him into the machine. Coppélia comes alive and demonstrates her impeccable sophistication: she is better than human. Her power over her awestruck creator Dr Coppelius is absolute.
Finally, Swanhilda reveals her identity as an imperfect human. Swanhilda forces Dr Coppelius to face his own arrogance before rescuing the lost Franz. Franz and Swanhilda leave the virtual pleasures of the Lab to face all the complications of the material world before them.