Monday, June 03, 2013

Dress of Tales of Hoffmann

Matthew Polenzani; Natalie Dessay; Christian van Horn

This was a version of the opera Les Conte d'Hoffmann by Offenbach that I have probably never seen.  It is called in the program "Performing edition based on the integral edition of the opera by Michael Kaye and Jean-Christophe Keck."  According to Wikipedia, this is a recent version which was successfully produced in Lyon and Hamburg.  It is supposed to reflect Offenbach's original music.

The acts are in the standard order:

Act I:  Prologue--Luther's Tavern in Nuremberg.
Act II:  Spalanzani's house (Olympia)
Act III:  Crespel's house in Munich (Antonia)
Act IV:  Giulietta's Palace in Venice (Giulietta)
Act V:  Epilogue--Luther's Tavern (Stella)

The Met reversed acts iv and iii.  In San Francisco we have French spoken dialogue, all relatively well done, while I have only ever heard recitative before.  This makes the opera shorter.

There was dialog about a violin I don't remember hearing before in the Antonia act.  Hoffmann stabs ...spoiler.  Maybe this whole entry is a spoiler, so don't read it.

Never mind.  This is perhaps the busiest staging I have ever seen.  Pieces of the set are constantly moving from place to place even while the scene is progressing.  In some of the scenes the only color on the set is the marks to tell where the pieces of set go--a different color for each scene, no doubt.

Olympia is fun.  At first she is raised into the air over and over, then released from her gadget, she skates around the stage like a mysterious hover craft.  Hy Jung Lee handles everything wonderfully.

It would appear this is another musicology incident.  Make up your own mind.  I hope those who love this opera are happy with anything that has changed.  Matthew Polenzani will be wonderful.  The opera opens Wednesday.

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