After recovering from injury, the America ballet star will debut as Franz in four Sydney performances of Coppélia.

In exciting news for ballet fans, American ballet star David Hallberg is to return to the ballet stage after a long break due to injury – and he will making his reappearance with the Australian Ballet.

Breaking the news on her blog, Deborah Jones, dance critic for The Australian, revealed that Hallberg is to make his role debut as the larky, larrikin Franz in the popular comic ballet Coppélia in December when he will dance in four performances at the Sydney Opera House.

David Hallberg in Sydney in 2013 for Cinderella with the Australian Ballet. Photo by Wendell Teodoro

Hallberg, who is a principal artist with both American Ballet Theatre (since 2006) and the Bolshoi Ballet (since 2011), had surgery on his left ankle in 2014, forcing him to withdraw from all subsequent performances that year. He also cancelled performances in 2015.

Jones reported that Hallberg, now 34, has worked with AB staff over the past year or so as part of his recuperation. A sought-after guest artist, Hallberg is no stranger to the AB. He first danced with the Company in the Peter Wright Nutcracker in 2010, and in 2013 he danced the role of the Prince in Alexei Ratmansky’s new Cinderella, created for the Company.

Known for the purity and lyricism of his line, and his dazzling technique, there were apparently gasps and cries of “bravo” from the audience when he made his entrance in Cinderella. Franz in Coppélia is a different kind of role to the dashing princes that Hallberg usually plays. A cheeky young villager, he flirts with danger when he becomes infatuated with a beautiful but aloof woman he spies in the window of the eccentric toymaker Dr Coppelius – who turns out to be a life-sized, dancing doll. Sneaking into Dr Coppelius’ workshop, Franz gets himself into all sorts of trouble and has to be rescued by his sweetheart Swanilda.

David McAllister, the AB’s Artistic Director, made his debut as a principal artist in the role in the same production for the AB. First seen in 1979, it is based on the original choreography by Arthur Saint-Léon to the sunny music of Léo Delibes, revised by Marius Petipa and Enrico Cecchetti, with additional choreography by Peggy van Praagh, the AB’s founding Artistic Director. 

Devised and directed by George Ogilvie, with designs by the late Kristian Fredrikson, McAllister believes “it’s still one of the most beautiful productions of Coppélia in the world.”

Coppélia plays at the Sydney Opera House December 2-21. David Hallberg will perform on December 13, 16, 19 & 21.