The Tales of Hoffmann
has become one of the best-loved specimens of nineteenth-century French opera. Yet it represents an outlier within Jacques Offenbach’s prolific catalogue in its experimentalism with genre as well as its protracted genesis. The composer’s source for the libretto was a play by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré, who introduced their five-act “fantastic play” Les Contes d’Hoffmann
in 1851 in Paris, drawing on the wildly imaginative stories by the early-romantic figure E.T.A. Hoffmann.”
Posted: 06/21/2013 by
Mezzo-soprano Irene Roberts
made her Company debut on June 5 as Giulietta in The Tales of Hoffmann
—currently running through July 6. The San Francisco Chronicle
described her performance as "tonally resplendent," while the San Jose Mercury News
gushed that she "dazzled in her company debut; what a plush, opulent voice she has." Prior to opening night, Ms. Roberts answered a few questions for us:
Posted: 06/13/2013 by
San Francisco Opera
How have you prepared for your role as Hoffmann? Have you ever read the original stories that inspired the libretto by E.T.A. Hoffmann?
Owing to the fact that this version of Hoffmann is very different from ones I've been involved with before, there was a lot of new music, and dialogue to learn. As always with languages you don't speak, figuring out the meaning behind the words takes up a lot of time. And that goes not just for what I'm saying, but also for the things that are being said to you by your colleagues. I have read the E.T.A. Hoffmann stories, though I didn't revisit them for this revival here in San Francisco.
Posted: 06/03/2013 by
Matthew Polenzani (Hoffmann, Tales of Hoffmann)
Constance Hoffman is a Costume Designer who tells stories, “My medium just happens to be costume.”
Constance and I set out to source the Mary Magdalene
textiles, armed with a stack of research books: The Jewish Wardrobe
, published by The Israel Museum in Jerusalem, The History of Jewish Costume
by Alfred Rubens, Roman Clothing and Fashion
by Alexandra Croom; The World of Roman Costume
by Judith Lynn Sebesta and, my personal favorite, Facing West-Oriental Jews of Central Asia and the Caucasus
(a catalog from a joint exhibit of The Russian Museum of Ethnography in St. Petersburg and The Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam).
Posted: 05/29/2013 by
Last fall, we here at San Francisco Opera were struck by how many connections existed between sights in our beloved Bay Area and the operas presented in our fall season. This inspired us to think about where the characters in our three summer operas – The Tales of Hoffmann, Cosi fan Tutte, and The Gospel of Mary Magdalene – might sightsee while they spent their time in the Bay. Where would E.T.A. Hoffmann go to drink his troubles away? In what seaside community would Mary of Magdala (a fishing town on the Sea of Galilee) feel most at home? And where would Cosi's Ferrando and Guglielmo get their infamous beard disguises groomed?
Posted: 05/13/2013 by
San Francisco Opera