The curtain rises on the square of a small European town several hundred years ago. A lovely young girl, Coppelia, is seen sitting on a balcony reading a book as Swanilda enters. Swanilda looks up at the girl, tries to attract her attention, but receives no reply. Franz, Swanilda's lover, comes into the Square and blows a kiss to the beautiful Coppelia. She ignores him too, and continues unconcerned with her book. However, Swanilda has seen these attentions of her lover to another pretty girl, and Franz is a very busy young man assuring Swanilda that he is not faithless and his affections are hers alone. Still jealous, Swanilda refuses to believe him and runs away as a group of young people interrupts their quarrel.
The Burgomaster enters to announce that at a celebration the following day the Lord of the Manor will present dowries to all couples who wish to marry. Asked if she will marry Franz, the pouting Swanilda puts a sheaf of corn to her ear. Thus, according to old custom, the corn will tell her if her lover is faithful or not. Sadly, she says the ear is silent. The other couples, however, are delighted at the Burgomaster's good news and dance until night falls when they must leave for home. Dr. Coppelius comes out, locks his door, and is immediately swirled away by a boisterous band of revelers. In the excitement he drops the key to his shop. Swanilda and her friends appear, and, finding the key, they are filled with curiosity about the strange Doctor and enter his shop. Dr. Coppelius returns, sees his door open and darts in. Franz enters carrying a ladder which he uses to climb on to Coppelia's balcony.
The curtain rises on the dimly-lit interior of Dr. Coppelius' shop -- a room full of life-like, life-size dolls. Swanilda pokes her head into an alcove to discover Coppelia. Someone jars a Chinese doll who dances until its clockwork runs down. The amazed young intruders then wind up all the dolls who dance as the friends watch, enchanted. Suddenly, a furious Dr. Coppelius enters and culprits flee, except Swanilda. She runs into the alcove where Coppelia is kept. At the same time, Dr. Coppelius apprehends the faithless Franz entering by the window. Franz pleads his love for the beautiful Coppelia. Dr. Coppelius pretends to listen with interest while he entices Franz with several well-doctored drinks. When the unsuspecting Franz passes out, Dr. Coppelius brings what he thinks is his fa
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