Monday, March 09, 2009

Berkeley Hoffmann

On Sunday afternoon I went to Berkeley to see The Tales of Hoffmann by the Berkeley Opera. The opera was present in the Julia Morgan Theater on College, a small venue, and was sold out. It was done in English in a new translation by David Scott Marley. The words sounded very natural and easy to understand. There was spoken dialog.

Hoffmann has four sets: the bar near the Nuremberg opera house, the residence of Olympia and Spalanzani, Antonia's house, Venice and a return to the bar of the opening scene. For the Berkeley production it was done in a single set with only small modifications from scene to scene. There is a long note in the program describing the edition used for this production. The three heroines are in the order Olympia, Antonia, Giuletta.

Nicklaus/Muse, sung by Nora Lennox Martin, sings more here than I remember. She has about three arias, if I recall correctly. Nora got better as she went along and in general made a good impression.

It is unusual for one person to perform all four heroines. Olympia is a coloratura while Antonia and Giuletta sing heavier music. I only know of Beverly Sills singing everything. In Berkeley Angela Cadelago did all four roles and did them all quite nicely. I loved her Olympia who sang the entire aria without moving her mouth. She has a soubrette-like voice and had to struggle a bit with the heavy dramatic music, but she managed it adequately. Her performance of Antonia's aria, my favorite part of the opera, was beautiful. She is both a musical singer and an excellent actress.

I was less impressed with Adam Flowers as Hoffmann. His list of credits would make him seem more impressive than he turned out to be.

From left are Nicklaus, mother, Hoffmann, heroine, villian.

We saw a full-fledged adaptation based on posthumously discovered notes by Offenbach. It worked well for me.

[See Kinderkuchen History 1870-90]

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