The story of Coppelia, based on E.T.A. Hoffmann's 1815 tale, Der Sandmann, is a charming circuitous story that translates easily into the language of dance.
The ballet takes its name from a life-size doll created by the mysterious, faintly fiendish genius, Dr. Coppelius. The not-so-good doctor sits "the girl with enamel eyes", as she's called, in the windows of his workshop, a book in her lap. Upon seeing her, Frantz, a likeable village rogue, becomes infatuated, much to the chagrin of his plucky sweetheart Swanilda. Determined to meet her rival, Swanilda sneaks into the workshop, discovers Coppelia's true identity, then mischievously switches places with her. Frantz learns his lesson. Coppelius is distraught. And Swanilda, who must own up to Coppelius's misery, grows from girl to woman. The wedding celebration envelopes the ballet's third act.