ACT IIn a small picturesque village, nestled in a valley between the Carpathian Mountains, a community of Hungarians, Germans, Poles, Jews, and Gypsies has lived together in peace and harmony for centuries. The only source of dissonance is the home of Doctor Coppélius. Nobody really understands what this eccentric stranger does.
Early on a summer morning, the village is slowly waking up. The prettiest girl in town, Swanilda, has arranged a meeting with Frantz, but the absentminded young man is late. When she finally sees him approaching, Swanilda hides away, annoyed at his delay. Franz's attention is drawn to a beautiful girl he has never seen before, who has suddenly appeared on the balcony of Doctor Coppélius's home. Franz, the village's resident heartbreaker, begins flirting with her, and the unknown girl blows him a kiss. This is too much for Swanilda to handle. She leaves her hiding place and angrily confronts her unfaithful suitor.
By now the residents of the village have all awakened. The bustling market square is full of dancing and activity. The mayor arrives to announce that, tomorrow, a new bell will be presented to the village church and a wondrous Festival of Bells will be organized. Couples who get married tomorrow will become honorary residents of the town, and will receive a bounty of gifts. But marriage is not a game! The villagers listen to an ancient legend, the ballad of the stalk of wheat. The magical stalk of wheat tells engaged couples whether or not their feelings are genuine. Swanilda is disheartened because her stalk of wheat is silent. Franz is probably just a rake and a skirt-chaser... But her friends are excited; they can't wait for the wondrous festivities. Franz and his friends head to the tavern. On the way, he boasts that he has begun courting the beautiful stranger Coppélia. Swanilda is shattered. The villagers disperse.
Swanilda accidentally finds Coppélius's key and convinces her girlfriends to break into the house, in order to discover what really goes on there. A drunken Franz returns from the tavern and, after locating a ladder, prepares to climb up to Coppélia's balcony. Coppélius returns, searching for his lost key.
ACT IISwanilda and her friends explore Coppélius's house. The place is so strange and beautiful! An odd assortment of guests - including a knight, a Spanish woman, and a Scotsman - stands frozen in the hall. The girls overcome their shyness and decide to get acquainted, but they quickly discover that the figures are just automatons. Even the beautiful Coppélia is just a doll! The girls make fun of them. Coppélius returns, chases away the mischievous girls, and puts the room back in order. But Swanilda hides in a corner and watches how Coppélius delights over his dolls.
An uninvited guest crawls through the window. It's Franz. Coppélius catches the intruder and begins to interrogate him. The young man admits he has lost his head over the beautiful Coppélia. The doctor shows Franz a few dolls, but claims never to have heard of Coppélia. He then offers his guest a glass of wine, which he has laced with a sleeping potion. Franz promptly falls asleep. Coppélius can finally be alone with his most beloved work, Coppélia.
Coppélia comes to life. But the doctor doesn't realize that it's just Swanilda, wearing Coppélia's dress. The doll's dance is so marvelous and enchanting that it seems almost human! By this time, Franz has awoken. He falls to his knees before Coppélia and pledges his undying love. But Swanilda has had enough. That wretched scoundrel! She attacks Franz. A skirmish ensures, during which Coppélius's hall is wrecked. Franz and Swanilda run away. Coppélius remains, feeling perplexed and confused. What happened?
The Festival of Bells has begun! The residents of the village gather in the colorfully decorated market square, where the priest blesses the newly betrothed, presents them with gifts, and consecrates the new bell.
Among the celebrants are the friends of Swanilda and Franz. But where is the prettiest couple in the village? Finally, teary-eyed Swanilda arrives, along with Franz, who looks wracked with guilt. The mayor wants to calm them down, but suddenly Doctor Coppélius and his beloved Coppélia appear. After everything he has seen, Coppélius thinks the doll is alive. He asks the priest to marry them. The priest refuses, but the mayor showers the talented dollmaker with gifts.
The festivities reach their culmination. The village's residents, farmers, guests, and the newly betrothed all dance, along with Swanilda and Franz, who have finally made peace. After a day of games and misunderstands comes a night of happiness and joy.