Sunday, March 28 at 12 p.m. – Great Performance at the Met "Les Contes d' Hoffman"
(Rochester, NY) – The new production of Offenbach’s Les
Contes d’Hoffmann, conducted by Music Director James Levine and
directed by Tony Award winner Bartlett Sher, premieres on Great Performances at the Met. Joseph Calleja sings the title role,
and Anna Netrebko adds new roles to her repertoire as both Antonia and
Stella. Also making role debuts are Kathleen Kim as Olympia, Ekaterina
Gubanova as Giulietta, and Kate Lindsey as Nicklausse/The Muse. Alan
Held, who has tackled all four villain roles before, reprises this feat in the new
production. In a recent review, The New York Times notes: “There are many
subtleties to Mr. Sher’s new staging of the work…public and private spaces
overlap in this production. Other scenic touches…will provide continuity among the acts.”Great Perfromances at the Met “Les Contes d’ Hoffman” airs Sunday, March 28 at 12 p.m. on WXXI- TV (DT 21.1/ cable 1011 and 11).
Sher, whose Great Performances at the Met debut production of Il
Barbiere di Siviglia was an audience favorite, created the new staging for
Offenbach’s final masterpiece, which he calls “a magical journey in which the title character works out different manifestations of his psyche…The opera is often approached in terms of the crazy imagination of Hoffmann,” Sher says, referring to the early German romantic polymath whose stories are used for the opera’s episodic plot. “I’m more interested in why Offenbach, who had been a very popular operetta composer, was seeking to write a serious work to gain acceptance. Why, so late in his career, did he feel this need to be accepted? That led me to consider Offenbach’s sense of being Jewish and an outsider. Whatever group he was in, he always appears as an outsider who never feels like he belongs, never feels like he’s connected.” The ambiguities and split identities of the characters figure in Sher’s vision of the piece.
Offenbach died before a definitive score for Les Contes d’Hoffmann was
established, though he left many sketches of possible additions and replacements which have led to different performing versions over the years. This production uses the same version that was used in the most recent revival, in 1999C2000, with the Olympia act first, followed by the Antonia act, then Giulietta placed third. Maestro Levine says of the musical version, “The music is so inspired, and I think we have made effective choices in the absence of an authentic, fully realized original version, using a great deal of the information that has come to light over the years.”
Pictured: Joseph Calleja
Credit: Micaela Rossato/Metropolitan Opera
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