Tales of Hoffmann
Sung in French with English surtitles
A dark fairytale under the Big Top
The performance is approximately 2 hours and 55 minutes, including two intermissions: Prologue and Act 1 (60 minutes), 20-minute intermission, Act 2 (42 minutes), 15-minute intermission, Act 3 and Epilogue (33 minutes).
In this richly melodic work, the poet Hoffmann dreams of three women: the wind-up doll Olympia, the siren Giulietta, and Antonia – a frail and consumptive opera singer. Hoffmann’s grand but misguided attempts at love are foiled by the supernatural villain Dapertutto, who robs Hoffmann of his better self and any chance of happiness in love. Offenbach’s final masterpiece is full of gorgeous melodies, seductive love scenes, and fantastic characters – a dark fairy tale and feast for the eyes and ears.
Director’s Message: This opera contains some of the most moving music, but also some of the most disturbing characters that any opera or theatrical show has ever known. The world of a turn-of-the-century circus is full of a cast of characters that are dark and mysterious and exist in a world where we cheer for the mysterious dark magician and laugh at the downtrodden sad clown. They appear and disappear through turn-of-the-century machinery, magic and trickery, smoke, and funhouse mirrors. — Joel Ivany, Director
Recognized widely as a young conductor of enormous musical talent and deep introspection, Austrian native Christoph Campestrini has been lauded by critics for his “youthful energy and nice sense of phrasing” (The New York Times) and “vibrant eloquence” (Le Soleil). Such accolades have given rise to a career that brought him together with over 90 orchestras on five continents. Although at home in a wide range of repertoire, he feels a particular affinity with the music of his compatriots Schubert, Bruckner and Mahler. Christoph is equally in demand as an accomplished opera conductor. He has served as principal conductor of the Essen Aalto Musiktheater and the Essen Philharmonic Orchestra, where he conducted more than 15 different operas in over 100 performances. In recent seasons, he has conducted operas and symphonies in Japan, Spain and Hungary, as well as Calgary, San Antonio, Colorado, Oregon and Huntsville. In Europe, he maintains a permanent relationship with the Czech State Philharmonic Brno and regularly works with the Camerata Salzburg, Bruckner Orchestra Linz and the Slovak Philharmonic.
Stage director Joel Ivany’s recent projects include directing Hansel and Gretel (Canadian Opera Company), The Turn of the Screw (Against the Grain Theatre), Così fan tutte (The Banff Centre) and his role as the associate director for Nabucco (Washington National Opera). He was a recent finalist and winner in the European Opera – Directing Prize for his concept of Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi. He recently revived Thaddeus Strassberger’s production of Le Nozze di Figaro at Norwegian National Opera. He has also assisted Robert Carsen in Orfeo ed Euridice (Canadian Opera Company), Iphigénie en Tauride (COC) and La Fanciulla del West (Norwegian National Opera). He is the founder and artistic director of Against the Grain Theatre in Toronto, which NOW Magazine called, “One of the city’s most inventive young companies.” Upcoming engagements include revival Nabucco (Minnesota Opera) and Le Roi Malgré Lui at the Wexford Festival, Ireland, as well as a new opera with Aventa New Music Ensemble.
David Pomeroy recently made his Metropolitan Opera debut in the title role of Les Contes d’Hoffmann (2009/10 season) under the baton of James Levine. He has performed in Toronto, Ottawa, St. Louis, Fort Worth, Detroit, Connecticut, Michigan and Ireland, and appeared with the Canadian Opera Company, Opera de Montreal, Florida Grand Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Manitoba Opera, Staatsoper Stuttgart, Calgary Opera, the Regina Symphony, Vancouver Opera and Scottish Opera. David created the role of Stefano for the world premiere of Filumena (Calgary Opera). 2011/12 appearances included Carmen (Opera Company of Philadelphia), Les Contes d’Hoffmann (COC), Faust (alternate, Metropolitan Opera), New Year’s Eve gala at Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall, Italian Opera concerts with Toronto’s Art of Time Ensemble, Wagnerian debut as Erik in The Flying Dutchman (Opera Lyra Ottawa), La Traviata (New York City Opera) and a concert of La Bohème (Kingston Symphony). David’s 2012/13 season began as Alfred in Die Fledermaus (COC). He then returned to Manitoba Opera to perform the title role of Rigoletto before coming to Edmonton.
Canadian bass-baritone Daniel Okulitch has performed in some of the most prestigious opera companies and orchestras throughout Europe and North America, including Le Châtelet, Teatro alla Scala, Teatro Colon, Dallas, Washington and Los Angeles. He is lauded as much for his powerful stage presence and dramatic abilities as for his "focused, resonant bass-baritone that he wields with power and sensitivity" (NJ Star-Ledger). This season he debuts the four villains in Les Contes d’Hoffmann with Edmonton Opera, sings the role of Don Giovanni with Portland Opera, then joins the cast of the Metropolitan Opera for their production of Don Giovanni. He also returns to Santa Fe Opera as the count in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro , and debuts at Arizona Opera as Figaro in the same opera. Future engagements include the lead role of Ennis Del Mar in the world premiere of Brokeback Mountain at Madrid’s Teatro Real, the role of Escamillo in Carmen and Giove in La Calisto with Cincinnati Opera, the title role of Don Giovanni with Vancouver and a return to Calgary Opera.
Canadian lyric coloratura soprano Teiya Kasahara is becoming known to audiences for her “flair for drama and blazing high notes” (La Scena Musicale). She is quickly making her mark as the next Queen of the Night of our generation (Vancouver Opera, Highlands Music Festival, Opera Kitchener). Alongside the traditional coloratura repertoire Teiya is discovering a niche in 20th- and 21st-century music and theatre. Last season she debuted with Tapestry New Opera Works, CanStage and the Queer Arts Festival – Vancouver, collaborating with contemporary librettists and composers such as Leslie Uyeda and Anusree Roy. She has also taken these talents to the recital stage performing with saxophonist Aaron T. Patterson and pianist Maureen Zoltek in New York. Later this season she will understudy the title role of Lucia di Lammermoor with the Canadian Opera Company (COC). Teiya is a two-time regional finalist of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and a national finalist of the Canadian Music Competition. She is also a COC Ensemble Studio graduate.
Canadian soprano Ileana Montalbetti is currently a member of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio where she recently performed as Antonia’s mother in Tales of Hoffmann, Elettra in Idomeneo and First Lady in The Magic Flute in the Ensemble Studio Performance. She also covered Nella in Gianni Schicchi in May 2012. Further recent highlights include productions of Moise et Pharaon and Elektra (Teatro dell'Opera di Roma), Le Nozze di Figaro and Don Giovanni (Saskatoon Opera) and Clorinda in La Cenerentola and Anna Kennedy in Maria Stuarda (Canadian Opera Company). Other assignments for the Canadian Opera Company include covering Pat Nixon in Nixon in China, High Priestess in Aida, Elisabetta in Maria Stuarda and the Cook in Stravinsky’s The Nightingale. The soprano singer was a winner of the 2010 Four City District Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and a 2010 Laureate of the Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques.
Recently, Krisztina Szabó sang Bach’s B Minor Mass (Chicago’s Music of the Baroque), Messiah (Baltimore Symphony Orchestra), Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Talisker Players), Mozart’s Coronation Mass (Atlanta Symphony) and St. Matthew Passion (Brooklyn Accademy of Music). She has also performed as Le Pèlerin in Saariaho’s L’Amour de loin, Idamante in Idomeneo and Dorabella in Così fan tutte (Canadian Opera Company), Sesto in La Clemenza de Tito (Vancouver Opera), Dido in Dido and Aeneas (Music of the Baroque), Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro (Stadttheatre Klagenfurt), Susanna in The Ghosts of Versailles and Rosalind in The Mines of Sulphur (Wexford Festival Opera), Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia (Calgary Opera), Ruggiero in Alcina and Haydn’s Arianna a Naxos (Les Violons du Roy), Dorabella in Così fan tutte (Mostly Mozart Festival), and Nerone in Agrippina (L’Opéra de Montréal). In summer 2012 she sang Handel arias at Grand Teton Music Festival under Bernard Labadie.
American tenor Steven Cole last appeared with the Canadian Opera Company as Goro in Madama Butterfly, and previously as the Witch in Hänsel und Gretel. He made his operatic debut as Monsieur Triquet (Eugene Onegin) with the Boston Symphony under Seiji Ozawa, and his Metropolitan Opera debut under James Levine as the Tanzmeister (Ariadne Auf Naxos). Recent appearances include Die Zauberflöte (Treviso), La Belle Hélène (Nantes), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Houston), La Fanciulla del West (San Francisco), La Belle Hélène (Strasbourg), and Die Zauberflöte (Paris). His recordings include Die Zauberflöte (Christie), The Rake’s Progress (Nagano), Orphée aux enfers (Minkowski), and Le Grand Macabre (Salonen).
Michael Barrett is a former member of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio. Recent roles with the COC include Monostatos in Die Zauberflöte, High Priest of Neptune in Idomeneo, El Remendado in Carmen, Lieutenant Bonnet and Aide de Camp to General Compans in War and Peace, First Prisoner in Fidelio, the Gamekeeper in Rusalka, Captain of Archers in Simon Boccanegra, Parpignol in La Bohème, Snout in A Mid Summer Night’s Dream, and Ferrando in the Ensemble Studio production of Così fan tutte. Michael regularly appears with the Aldeburgh Connection, where he performed in Our Story for the 25th anniversary celebrations. The tenor’s current season began as the Witch in the COC’s touring production of Hansel and Gretel. Further highlights include the world premiere of Taptoo! (Toronto Operetta Theatre), Messiah (Newfoundland Symphony) and Spalanzani in Les Contes d’Hoffmann (COC). During the 2012/13 season, Michael will reprise the role of Spalanzani and add Nathanael in Les Contes d’Hoffmann (Edmonton Opera) as well as be heard as the Third Jew in Salomé and as the First Commissary in Dialogues of the Carmelites (COC).
Former member of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio, mezzo-soprano Lauren Segal has appeared regularly with the company in roles such as Mercedes in Carmen, Siébel in Faust, Dorabella in Così fan tutte and Nicklausse in Les Contes d’Hoffmann. Further credits include Maddalena in Rigoletto for Opéra de Montréal, Manitoba Opera and Hamilton Opera, Carmen (cover) in Bari, Italy, Orlovsky in Die Fledermaus, Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia for Opera Hamilton and Suzuki in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly with Manitoba Opera and Opera Hamilton. On the concert stage, Lauren has sung with the Grand Philharmonic Choir, the Bach Elgar Choir, the Vancouver Bach Choir and Orchestre Metropolitain du Grand Montréal. Lauren appeared for the last two summers with Brott Summer Music, featured in several concerts, as well the title role in Bizet’s Carmen. Born in South Africa, Lauren holds a master’s of science degree from the department of physics at the University of Toronto.
Benjamin Covey is one of Canada’s most dynamic young singers, recognized in Tapestry New Opera Works 2011 Pub Operas for his “rich, resonant and powerful voice” (Keira Grant, Mooney on Theatre). After completing his master’s in opera at University of Toronto, Benjamin joined Calgary Opera’s Emerging Artist Program and in 2010 attended San Francisco Opera’s prestigious Merola Program, singing Belcore in Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore. Recent debuts for Benjamin include Morales/Doncairo in Manitoba Opera's Carmen, Schaunard in Edmonton Opera’s La Bohème and Baron Douphol in Vancouver Opera’s La Traviata. In 2011, Benjamin sang Escamillo in Ottawa’s Carmen Unbound, and sang Papageno in The Magic of Mozart with the National Arts Centre Orchestra. Benjamin returned to Calgary Opera as Captain Gardiner in Moby Dick and sang Achilla in Handel’s Giulio Cesare with Ottawa’s Thirteen Strings. Future engagements include Messiah with Kingston Symphony and Venus and Adonis with Toronto Masque Theatre.
Doug MacNaughton began his operatic career with Edmonton Opera in 1982, touring productions such as HMS Pinafore and Cinderella throughout the province. Career highlights include Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte (Pacific Opera Victoria), Wozzeck in Wozzeck (Banff Centre), Cervantes/Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha (Stirling Festival Theatre), Enjolras in Les Misérables (Mirvish Productions), Messiah with many orchestras across Canada, H.K. Gruber's Frankenstein (Victoria Symphony, Saskatoon Symphony) and Dave Brubeck's The Light in the Wilderness (Elora Festival Singers). The baritone singer also commissions Canadian compositions for baritone and guitar, which he performs to his own accompaniment as a 21st Century Troubadour. Performances in the 2011/12 season included John Beckwith's Crazy to Kill (Toronto Masque Theatre), King Leontes in Like an Old Tale, an adaptation of Shakespeare's A Winter's Tale (Jumblies Theatre); a one-man cabaret as part of the Green Door Cabaret series, and Maestro Spinelloccio in Gianni Schicchi (Canadian Opera Company), where he’ll return as Thierry in Dialogues of the Carmelites this spring.
Set & Costume Designer
Camellia is a Toronto-based set and costume designer for theatre, opera, dance and site-specific installations. Designs for opera include Maria Stuarda (Pacific Opera Victoria), The Lighthouse (Boston Lyric Opera), Turn of the Screw and La Bohème (Against the Grain), and The Shadow (Tapestry New Opera). She has also been an associate designer for Michael Levine on The Magic Flute (Budapest State Opera) and Candide (Châtelet/Hyogo PAC) amongst others. Designs for theatre include collaborations with numerous independent to regional companies including Tarragon Theatre and The Shaw Festival. She is a graduate of Ryerson, Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design (UK) and the Hogeschool voor de Kunsten (Utrecht).
Camellia has received five Dora Awards, a Sterling Award, a Chalmers Award Grant, shared the 2006 Siminovitch Protégé Prize, and third prize at the 2011 European Opera Directing Prize with Joel Ivany and Jason Hand. Plans include Don Giovanni (RCM), Carried Away on the Crest of a Wave (Tarragon), Peace in Our Time (Shaw Festival), and Marilyn Forever (Aventa New Music).
Jason Hand’s theatre credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Winter’s Tale (Canadian Stage), The Trespassers (Stratford), The Amorous Adventures of Anatol (Tarragon Theatre), The Ugly One (Theatre Smash), See How They Run (Theatre Aquarius), Gorey Story, Peer Gynt (The Thistle Project), Man of Mode, Princess Ivona (George Brown College), and The Melville Boys, Self Help, and The Fly Fisher’s Companion (Lighthouse Theatre Festival). He has worked on operas including Turn of the Screw, La Bohème, (Against the Grain Theatre), Dido & Aeneas (Opera on the Avalon) and Guilio Cesare (Orchestra London). He has been the assistant lighting designer on over 25 operas at the Canadian Opera Company. Upcoming projects include This (Canadian Stage), Blue Planet (Young People’s Theatre) and Figaro’s Wedding (Against the Grain). A previous collaboration with Joel Ivany and Camellia Koo on a production of I Capuletti e i Montecchi placed third in the biennial European Opera-Directing Prize. This year, Jason was named as a protégé in the 2012 Siminovitch Prize in Theatre.
Twilla MacLeod is an Edmonton-based musician and theatre artist. A graduate of the University of Lethbridge music program and the University of Alberta acting program, Twilla has won a Sterling Award for her work in Blarney Productions’ production of Orange Flower Water. She also sang the role of Anima in the Ordo Collective’s touring production of Hildegard von Bingen’s Ordo Virtutum. Twilla is a co-founder of Booming Tree Taiko (boomingtree.ca), a professional drum duo whose work is rooted in Japanese drumming. Performing over 50 times annually, Booming Tree’s highly energetic shows are a celebration of the strength and power of the human form.
Some of the cast of Hoffmann describe their characters in their own words.
Click the image to view the full slideshow
The cast of The Tales of Hoffmann has run away to the circus, where the poet Hoffmann is persuaded by his fellow roustabouts to tell the stories of the three women he has loved and lost. Offenbach's dark fairytale, sung by talented, nearly all-Canadian cast, with stunning visuals and catchy music, is under the Big Top at the Jube in February.
Click the image to view the full slideshow
The Doll's Song, Olympia's Act
Teiya Kasahara as Olympia, the first woman that Hoffmann loves, singing part of the Doll's Song.
Testing the circus drops for Tales of Hoffmann
One of the circus tent drops that will be used as a background during the Edmonton Opera's Tales of Hoffmann production in February. We spent nearly all day putting up and taking down the drop; you can see it happen in 30 seconds.
Tales of Hoffmann scene build
Costume and scenery designer Camellia Koo talks about the set design for the Edmonton Opera's production of Tales of Hoffmann This version of Offenbach's opera is set in the mysterious, dark, and often seedy underworld of a turn-of-the-century travelling circus and the carousel of characters that inhibit it.
Interview with Scenery & Costume Designer Camellia Koo
Scenery and costume designer Camellia Koo talks about the costumes used for both the chorus and the principal singers in Tales of Hoffmann, and how the circus concept was integrated.
Characters of Tales of Hoffmann - Steven Cole
Tenor Steven Cole talks about the four roles he plays in Tales of Hoffman — Andres, Pittichinaccio, Frantz and Cochenille.
Characters of Tales of Hoffmann - Doug McNaughton
Bass/baritone Doug MacNaughton talks about the three characters he plays in Tales of Hoffmann — Luther, Crespel and Schlemil.
Behind the curtain — Hoffmann rehearsals
In a few short weeks, the constant activity upstairs in the Jubilee rehearsal hall transforms into Offenbach’s dark fairytale, Les Contes d’Hoffmann.
By the time it gets on stage, all the moving parts — stage managing, costume and makeup, direction of the concept — will be neatly hidden behind the scenes, but for now, it’s all on display as the opera comes together.
And it’s fascinating.
For those who are at the rehearsal hall day and night — literally, because some of the most interesting social media content from rehearsal comes across the Internet at ridiculous hours of the night — the process may seem a little more gradual.
But for those of us who commute from the admin offices at the Winspear Centre to the rehearsal hall on a semi-regular basis, every other night or a few days a week for a couple of hours, the changes are inspiring and exciting.
At the beginning of January, Edmonton Opera staff met the cast and creative team at the airport as they arrived on a handful of flights. It was nice for both parties — staff got a chance to talk to the artists when they weren’t busy with rehearsal, and artists could ask questions about the city they’d be living in for the next four weeks. Even things as simple as grocery stores, good radio stations and arts spaces can be important.
Though rehearsals for both principals and chorus started by sitting in chairs and singing the following Monday, those chairs weren’t for long. Two-thirds of the rehearsal hall is now a duplicate of the Jubilee stage, complete with props; the principals and chorus are learning staging, where to move, when to move and how to move.
explaining things, director Joel Ivany will shadow the principals,
demonstrating where in the scene he wants more emphasis or an added gesture. He
also asks questions of the cast, about the feeling of a certain line or moment;
they reply and ask questions of their own.
For casual onlookers, the process is really smart — since Antonia, the ailing singer, doesn’t wear a watch, soprano Ileana Montalbetti removes the timepiece on her left wrist. Alternatively, tenor Steven Cole arrives at rehearsal wearing regular shoes, but sometime between then and stepping on the “stage” for his scene, he’s replaced them with overly large, red clown shoes. It’s all part of the character Frantz, who slumps with bad posture because, as Cole says here, “My posture (for Frantz) kind of says, ‘He’s seen better days.’”
The same methodical approach applies to the chorus too: at one point, chorus members have time to list, on paper, the backstory of their character(s); before staging the epilogue Ivany talks through the principals’ parts for the chorus, alternating the French libretto with English translation.
Only so much can happen in the rehearsal hall, however, so some of the effects that Ivany is imagining for the final scene — and explains to the chorus — won’t happen until they move on to the Jube stage.
What is the final, memorable scene? You’ll have to go to the circus to find out.
Photos courtesy Joel Ivany, Twitter (@joelivany)