Megan Fairchild owns the title role of "Coppelia."
“Coppelia” has come home -- at least for New York City Ballet fans at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center that’s how it feels.
The comedy, choreographed by George Balanchine and Alexandra Danilova, represents City Ballet’s heyday at SPAC – a time when the company spent multiple weeks in the amphitheater and when the venue could afford to commission such a grand spectacle.
Balanchine’s rendering of this 1870 classic made its world premiere at SPAC in 1974 and it feels like a homecoming each time it returns.
Moreover, the evening-length ballet with music by Leo Delibes is the perfect creation, one that will tickle those who are regulars and the youngest and newest of fans.
Much is due to Megan Fairchild, who on Thursday night, reprised her role as Swanilda, the jealous betrothed of Frantz who likes to flirt with a doll named Coppelia. Of course, he doesn’t realize it’s a doll until Swanilda and friends invade the toymaker’s workshop and discover Coppelia’s soulless identity. That leads to a series of silly scenarios including Swanilda posing as the doll after the toymaker unexpectedly returns to the workshop and discovers her there.
Fairchild has been dancing Swanilda since 2003, debuting in the role at SPAC after two other ballerinas were injured. Though only a soloist at the time, Fairchild owned “Coppelia,” which obviously help propel her way to principal just seven months later. (This fact enhances the special connection that she and “Coppelia” have to local audiences.)
It’s an exhausting title role as she is onstage nearly every second in the first two acts. The impish Fairchild is marvelous, however, as she pours all she knows about drama and comedy into the role. Technically, she is flawless too.
Her Frantz was the ebullient Anthony Huxley who was unstoppable. His variations in the finale pas de deux expressed overflowing joy over his marriage to Swanilda.
The ballet, with scenery by Rouben Ter-Artunian, is beautiful too. The pastel village square, with giant bells overhead and touches of pink to accent Swanilda’s skirt, was adorable.
So too were the many local children who performed in the third act of the ballet. As always, they were well-rehearsed and on point thanks to the Children’s Ballet Master Dena Abergel and her associate Arch Higgins.
“Coppelia” will be repeated tonight and Saturday afternoon. I promise it will delight.