Sunday, January 10, 2010

OFFENBACH : LES CONTES D'HOFFMANN

Radio NZ Concert network, 
Sunday 1st of March 2015 at 6 - 10 pm
Sunday 4th of August 2013 at 3.03 - 6.10 pm
Sunday 10th of January 2010 at 3.03 - 7.00 pm

INTRODUCTION
SYNOPSIS
LIBRETTO (French/English)
SCORE

2015
OFFENBACH: The Tales of Hoffmann, an opera fantastique, with a prologue, three acts and an epilogue, based on three short stories by Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann. In the opera, Hoffmann tells his friends about his three past loves, Olympia, Antonia and Giulietta. They represent three facets of "woman". Olympia = physical, Giulietta  = sensual, and Antonia = creative. Sometimes one soprano sings all three roles; Stella, Hoffmann's beautiful opera-singer companion, has all the facets of woman in one person.
Hoffmann.................... Vittorio Grigolo
Olympia....................... Erin Morley
Antonia & Stella.......... Hibla Gerzmava
Giulietta....................... Christine Rice
Lindor/Coppélius/
Miracle/Dapertutto...... Thomas Hampson
Andrès/Cochenille/
Frantz/Pitchinaccio...... Tony Stevenson
Crespel/Luther............. David Pittsinger
Hermann/Schlémil David Crawford
Nathanaël/Spalanzani Dennis Petersen
Nicklausse/The Muse... Kate Lindsey
Antonia's mother......... Olesya Petrova
La Harpe...................... Seth Malkin
Metropolitan Opera Chorus & Orch/Yves Abel

OFFENBACH: The Tales of Hoffmann, an opera in five acts
2013
OFFENBACH: The Tales of Hoffmann
Hoffmann................................ Michael Spyres
Olympia................................... Kathleen Kim
Antonia.................................... Natalie Dessay
Giulietta................................... Tatiana Pavlovskaya
Stella........................................ Susana Cordón
Lindorf/Coppélius/Miracle/
Dapertutto............................... Laurent Naouri
Andrès/Conchenille/Frantz...... Francisco Vas
Crespel..................................... Carlos Chausson
Hermann/Peter Schlémil.......... Isaac Galán
Luther...................................... Alex Sanmartí
Nathanaël................................ Airam Hernández
Nicklausse/Muse...................... Michèle Losier
Spalanzani............................... Manel Esteve
Voice of Antonia's mother...... Salomé Haller
Gran Teatro del Liceo Chorus & Orch/Stéphane Denève
(recorded in the Gran Teatro del Liceo, Barcelona by Spanish Radio)
 
2010
Hoffmann...................... Joseph Calleja
Olympia........................ Kathleen Kim
Antonia/Stella................ Anna Netrebko
Giulietta......................... Ekaterina Gubanova
Nicklausse/The Muse.... Kate Lindsay
Four Villains.................. Alan Held
Four Servants................ Alan Oke
Nathanael...................... Rodell Rosel
Hermann/Schlémi.......... Michael Todd Simpson
Luther/Crespel.............. Dearn Peterson
Spalanzani..................... Mark Schowalter
La Harpe...................... David Asch
Metropolitan Opera Chorus & Orch/James Levine (EBU)

My first experience of this opera was in the presence of Queen Elizabeth II, when I was young. Actually, I heard it broadcast on the radio in Sydney. The Queen met the tenor afterwards and suggested to him that Hoffmann was a difficult role, and he agreed with her, he told us; she would not have been implying that he had made a hash of it; but he changed his name after that, from Lance Ingram to Albert Lance (pronounced with French vowels) and took refuge in Paris. Consulting John Cargher's Bravo! (200 years of opera in Australia)  I find that it took place in the Princess Theatre in Melbourne on Monday 1st of March 1954 (my first year at Sydney University). Before that I knew the gondola song (barcarolle, which Offenbach had already used elsewhere, I eventually learned) and the Kleinsach narration (klik klak, flic flac das war also Kleinsach,) (I think I just heard the name Flack mentioned, the surname  of my Helen).

Regent on Broadway, Palmerston North,
Saturday 6 October, 2007, 7.30pm

People who live in Palmerston North and other Manawatu towns can feel deprived and starved when they think of getting access to opera. No opera comes our way now. The operatic roadshow (Don Pasquale last time) passes us by and goes to Wanganui. We can travel to Wellington, of course (but that's generally off course for me and my pushbike), to see Turandot (13-20 October). However, our magnificent theatre, the Regent on Broadway, is not entirely bereft of opera: recently we were given a world-class season of Cats.


On the 6th of October we are to have a performance of The Tales of Hoffmann by Offenbach, in the Regent. This will be presented by our wonderful friends in the Wellington Gilbert and Sullivan Society, who are now "trading" as a non-profit organization under the name Wellington G&S Light Opera (WGSLO). www.gns.org.nz

They have made an interesting but surprising choice. Given that Arthur Sullivan was seen as the British Offenbach, we might have expected Orpheus in the Underworld or La Belle Hélène. But Offenbach would have been pleased that they have chosen his grand opera, not one of his operettas. Poor Jacques Levy (clearly Jewish, with the name Offenbach taken from the family's home-town in Germany) never saw a performance of Hoffmann, only rehearsals.

Patrick Power and Derek Miller are the leading men. The three sopranos are Karyn Andreassend (Olympia, or 'Coppelia', the mechanical doll) who is well known in PN; Jennifer Little (Antonia, the ailing singer) who was the lead soprano in The Mikado and The Gondoliers; Lynley Snelling (Giulietta, the courtesan, who sings the barcarolle).

The student Nathanael is Laurence Walls. Jennifer and Laurence sang with us in our PN Choral Society concert in August 2007.

COMPOSER
BACKGROUND

CHARACTERS

SYNOPSIS

STORYLINE

UNDERGROUND
ANALYSIS

The NY Metropera's archives provide these study guides, but apparently they have not staged it since 1959 (when the cast included Nicolai Gedda, Mattiwilda Dobbs, and George London). The pictures accompanying the STORYLINE are dated 1982, but the claim is made that they relate to the 1959 broadcast. The tenor looks like Placido Domingo, rather than Nicolai Gedda. I know Placido has been Hoffmann, because he is on a record with Joan Sutherland; and Nicolai has made a recording with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Victoria de los Angeles.

In 2010 there was a production at the MET, and here is the radio broadcast of the selfsame performance that will be shown in our local cinema later in January 2010.

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