Dr. Coppélius, an eccentric toy-maker, has made a beautiful mechanical doll, and named her Coppélia. He places her in his shop window, where the local villagers are amazed by her, and even begin to believe she is real
Swanhilda and Franz are two of these villagers. Swanhilda gets jealous when she sees Franz blowing kisses at Coppélia, so to test his love and faithfulness, Swanhilda takes an ear of corn, believing that it should make a rustling noise when shaken. However much she shakes it, there is no sound. Franz tries desperately to calm Swanhilda, telling her he still loves her.
Night falls and as Dr Coppélius heads home from the local tavern, he is attacked by some youths, resulting in him dropping his key. Swanhilda and some of her friends find the key and decide to break into the toy shop, but are caught by Dr Coppélius.
The group flee, leaving damage in their wake, but Swanhilda hides in the shop whilst Franz is caught. Dr Coppélius longs to bring Coppélia to life using his magical powers, so concocts a magic spell to transfer Franz's soul into the doll. Dr Coppélius is amazed when Coppélia appears to dance before him, but soon finds that he has been tricked by the couple, with Swanhilda dressing as the dill.
Dr Coppélius, downhearted by the trickery, asks Swanhilda to reimburse him for the damage which she agrees to. Love triumphs over all in this comedy of mistaken identity and the story ends with Dr Coppélius leading a breathtaking celebration of marriage between Swanhilda and Franz who fall back in love with each other.