A village in Galicia, once an Austro-Hungarian province on the Carpathian slope. A festival honors a new carillon for the town’s bell-tower. Dr. Coppélius, toy-maker, inventor, and magician exhibits his masterwork, Coppélia, a life-sized doll whom he thinks of as a daughter. Frantz, a bumpkin, loves Swanilda, who is piqued by his flirtation with the pretty doll. With other louts, Frantz roughs up Coppélius. In their horseplay the key to his studio is lost, which Swanilda later discovers, enabling her and her friends to invade its secrets.
Coppélius expels Swanilda’s companions while she hides herself. Frantz, following love and curiosity, climbs in a window. He is soon drugged by Coppélius’ potion. The magician imagines he may animate his doll by drawing energy from the sleeping youth. Swanilda, now dressed in Coppélia’s clothes, dances a Scottish reel and Spanish fandango. Coppélius, at first in ecstasy over this apparent triumph, is plunged into despair when he uncovers her heartless imposture.
The Festival of Bells. Village couples unite in holiday dress before the mayor. Various occasions upon which the bells are to be rung – for work, prayer, war, peace, dawn, and other golden hours, are celebrated. Swanilda will marry Frantz, and Coppélius, a broken man, is paid poorly in gold for his pains.
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