Coppélia – Guiraud – Franz Variation


Franz’s variation from Coppelia, Act 3 by Guiraud

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Coppelia is a ballet that tells the story of a young man named Franz who falls in love with a life-sized dancing doll named Coppelia. The doll is created by an eccentric toy maker named Dr. Coppelius, who is obsessed with bringing inanimate objects to life.

The ballet is known for its lighthearted and comedic nature, as well as its technical demands on the dancers. The role of Coppelia requires a dancer with excellent technical skills, as they must convincingly portray a life-sized doll come to life. The role of Franz is also demanding, as it requires a dancer with strong acting abilities to portray the character’s mix of mischief and infatuation.

A brief history about this variation from the Petipa society

As men began to take over the travesty role of Franz, things began to change in Coppélia and one interesting product of this change is the variation danced by Franz in the Grand Pas de deux.Many modern productions have used various pieces for Franz’s variation, but the variation that was eventually used in Petipa’s production was used by Sergei Vikharev in his 2009 reconstruction. The music for this variation is not by Delibes, but by the French American composer, Ernest Guiraud, who worked at the Paris Opéra in the 1870s. The variation is from Guiraud’s one-act ballet Gretna Green, which premièred at the Paris Opéra on the 5th May 1873 and was the final ballet to be created for the stage of the Salle Le Peletier before the theatre was destroyed by a fire that same year.

More history about this variation can be found on the Petipa society website


Ernest Guiraud (1837-1892) was a French composer and music teacher. He is best known for his opera compositions and his work as a music arranger. Guiraud was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, and began his music career as a violinist in the orchestra of the Théâtre d’Orléans. He later moved to Paris, where he studied at the Conservatoire de Paris and became a student of Fromental Halévy.

Guiraud made his debut as a composer in 1867 with his opera Le schah de Perse. He went on to compose several other operas, including Rip van Winkle and Gwendoline. He is also known for his work as a music arranger and orchestrator, particularly for his arrangements of Georges Bizet’s opera Carmen.

Guiraud was a respected teacher at the Conservatoire de Paris, where he taught composition and orchestration. He also wrote a number of pedagogical works, including a method for solfège and a treatise on orchestration. He died in Paris in 1892 at the age of 55.

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