MAGNIFICENT, marvellous Momoko Hirata… your time most surely has arrived.

Watching her in full flow at the Birmingham Hippodrome immediately brought to mind an image of those exquisite desert flowers that can only really bloom once there has been a downpour.

Indeed, there was certainly a deluge of applause as this exquisite dancer flew across the stage, her feet sometimes appearing to be levitating inches above the boards.

And she certainly seemed to understand that the night belonged to her, for the greater the approval from the audience, the more she seemed to excel.

Momoko Hirata and the music of Leo Delibes are made for each other, the composer’s majestic creations breathing life into her portrayal of Swanilda, the coquettish village girl who rightly believes her intended has been bewitched by a doll.

There was indeed a feeling of celebration generally on this opening night, for I found myself sitting next to the unashamedly proud mother of Maureya Lebowitz, not only one of Swanilda’s friends, but also a previous incumbent of the starring role.

The obvious pride in her daughter was a pleasure to behold, yet another factor in the overall celebratory feel of this very special night.

Classical ballet does not get any better than this and a capacity crowd was indeed sitting at the table of the gods, one of them being Cesar Morales, who also seemed to sense that there was magic in the air.

He makes for a convincing beau as Franz, effortlessly partnering La Hirata in any number of pas des deux and ensemble work. Morales is a consummate character dancer, acutely aware of how the right facial expression at the crucial moment turns even a routinely hot move into a blazing furnace of emotion.

Everything is here… pathos, the rawness of disappointment, humour and the pain of human frailty. You really start to run out of adjectives.

Meanwhile, Michael O’Hare as Dr Coppelius showed once again that he is completely at home with what at times became an exercise in pure slapstick, perfectly suited at playing the doddery old mad professor, a kind of geriatric genius who believes he actually may have solved the mystery of life.

There were also some expressive and often amusing performances by Rory Mackay as the innkeeper and Jonathan Payn playing a bumptious burgomaster of the village where nothing is what it seems.

And driving the proceedings along was, of course, a particularly regal Royal Ballet Sinfonia under the steady baton of Paul Murphy, gloriously framing Peter Wright’s epic production.

This was a wonderful experience for all concerned, from the dancers to the audience… and not least for one very proud mother who watched with delight as her daughter danced the night away with the very best.

Coppelia runs until Saturday, February 28.