The Tales of Hoffmann is coming to The Baxter

30 August 2023 | Story Staff writer. Photo Supplied. Read time 3 min.
The Tales of Hoffmann features a young, talented cast from Opera UCT.
The Tales of Hoffmann features a young, talented cast from Opera UCT.

The French composer Jacques Offenbach’s popular opera, Les Contes d’Hoffmann (The Tales of Hoffmann) comes to The Baxter Theatre stage this September.

The new production, directed by theatre-maker Steven Stead, features a young, talented cast from Opera UCT – the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) opera school based in the South African College of Music. The Tales of Hoffmann, conducted by Professor Jeremy Silver, the director of Opera UCT, will be staged in the Pam Golding Theatre from 8 to 10 September.

“This is a theatrical as well as a musical spectacle for the audience. From the ethereal beauty of Olympia to the eerie ambiance of the Venetian courtesan Giulietta’s palace. The Tales of Hoffmann offers a visual feast that enhances the dramatic impact of the story,” Stead said.

Highlighting UCT Opera’s talented singers

Offenbach’s opera was first performed in 1881, one year after the composer’s death. And since then, it has become part of the standard repertoire of opera houses across the globe. Written by German writer ETA Hoffmann, The Tales of Hoffmann contains the popular Barcarolle duet, Belle nuit, ô nuit d’amour, and the coloratura soprano aria Les oiseaux dans la charmille. It is based on three stories and is about a poet (Hoffmann) who narrates the story of three women he once loved: a mechanical doll, a young singer, and a courtesan.

Professor Silver said the opera serves as an opportune moment to highlight UCT Opera’s many talented singers.

“This opera provides an opportunity to showcase the talents of a wide variety of singers, musicians and theoretical artists, while offering a captivating and emotionally charged opera experience for audiences,” Professor Silver said.

He said each act boasts a different woman lead character, which necessitates a range of singing styles, including coloratura, lyric, and dramatic soprano roles. Silver said the title character of the opera also requires a “versatile tenor” with both lyrical and dramatic abilities.

The opera will be sung in French with surtitles in English and isiXhosa. There are alternating casts for the production, and the title will be shared by tensors Luvo Maranti and Makudu Senaoana.

Tickets for “The Tales of Hoffmann” are available from Web Tickets. Prices vary and pensioners and students receive a discount.

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