Seattle—Seattle Opera’s 2014/15 season concludes its 50th Anniversary season, as well as the 31-year tenure of General Director Speight Jenkins with The Tales of Hoffmann (Les contes d’Hoffmann).
An all-star cast sings Jacques Offenbach’s tuneful score, chronicling famous writer E.T.A. Hoffmann’s misadventures in love.
The wild stories of Hoffmann’s failed romances come alive with fantastical elements: a beautiful robot, an evil optician, a stolen shadow, death by music, and a mysterious boy/girl muse.
The Tales of Hoffmann was first produced jointly by Dallas, Cincinnati, Minnesota, and Arizona operas in 2005.
This timeless, stylish, and imaginative production returns to Seattle Opera on Saturday, May 3, and runs through Saturday, May 17.
“It is a thrill to bring back our production of The Tales of Hoffmann,” Jenkins said. “It was funny, moving, and magical in 2005, and I expect this revival to be even better.”
Stalwart American tenor William Burden stars in the title role.
In 2011, The Seattle Times applauded Burden for his “dashing and impassioned” performance as Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor, writing that he made his character’s passion and despair “compellingly real.”
Seattle audiences have enjoyed Burden’s sensitive work in French operas including Orphée et Eurydice (Orphée), Les pêcheurs de perles (Nadir), and Iphigénie en Tauride (Pylade).
Celebrated mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey, who has triumphed as The Muse/Nicklausse at The Metropolitan Opera and Santa Fe Opera, returns to Seattle as Hoffmann’s companion.
Lindsey won Seattle Opera’s Artist of the Year award for her debut performance creating the title role in the 2010 world premiere of Amelia; The New York Times described her performance as “subtly charismatic,” “vocally warm,” and “lovely.”
Two celebrated French artists return to McCaw Hall for the multiple leading roles in The Tales of Hoffmann.
Norah Amsellem brings her riveting and dynamic presence to the stage in the roles of Hoffmann’s four beloveds.
Reviewing her performance as Elvira in I puritani, The Seattle Times wrote: “Amsellem found her way forward, mustering a lovely voice of considerable agility with a lot of security and accuracy above the staff.… The mad scene would tax any soprano, but Amsellem dealt well with both the vocal and dramatic challenges.”
Bass baritone Nicolas Cavallier, who critics praised following performances of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro and Massenet’s Don Quichotte, returns as Hoffmann’s shape-shifting nemeses. The Seattle Times praised Cavallier’s voice for its “glorious richness,” writing that his “cleanly focused baritone cast its spell.”
The alternate cast stars Russell Thomas (Foresto in 2012’s Attila) as Hoffmann and Alfred Walker (Orest in 2008’s Elektra) as Hoffmann’s enemies.
Leah Partridge makes her Seattle Opera debut as the beloveds.
All performances of The Tales of Hoffmann feature Lindsey as The Muse/Nicklausse, Keith Jameson as The Henchmen, Steven Cole as Spalanzani, Arthur Woodley as Crespel, and Tichina Vaughn as Antonia’s Mother.
Yves Abel is at the podium for this French masterpiece.
When he conducted La fille du régiment last fall, The Seattle Times noted Abel’s ability to give his singers and responsive orchestra “plenty of lyrical scope and freedom, while never losing the forward momentum of the score.”
Stage director Chris Alexander returns with this celebrated and much-traveled production, which earned him one of his three Artist of the Year awards from Seattle Opera.
Costumes by Marie-Therese Cramer bring this colorful and whimsical tale to life with sets by Robert Dahlstrom and lighting by Robert Wierzel.
The Tales of Hoffmann Production Sponsors: Seattle Opera Foundation, Nesholm Family Foundation, ArtsFund and Seattle’s Office of Arts and Culture.
The final performance of The Tales of Hoffmann is sponsored by Robert and Loretta Comfort.
William Burden’s performances are sponsored by Steven and Judith Clifford.
Kate Lindsey’s performances are sponsored by Richard and Mary Beth Gemperle.
Norah Amsellem’s performances are sponsored by James and Sherry Raisbeck.
Leah Partridge’s performances are sponsored by Janice C. Condit.
Norman Archibald Charitable Foundation sponsors the costumes in this production.
2013/14 Season Sponsor: The late Gladys Rubinstein, in memory of Sam Rubinstein.
The Tales of Hoffmann premieres Saturday, May 3, and runs through Saturday, May 17.
Tickets are available online at seattleopera.org or by calling 206.389.7676 or 800.426.1619.
Tickets may also be purchased at the Box Office by visiting 1020 John Street (two blocks west of Fairview), Monday to Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., and Wednesdays from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Ticket prices start at $25.
The Tales of Hoffmann (Les contes d’Hoffmann)
Music by Jacques Offenbach
Libretto by Jules Barbier
In French with English captions
Premiere: Paris, Opéra-Comique (Salle Favart), February 10, 1881
Previous Seattle Opera Performances: November 1970, September 1980, May 1990, May 2005
Marion Oliver McCaw Hall, Seattle, Washington
7 Performances: May 3, 4 (matinee), 8, 10, 14, 16, and 17, 2014
Approximate Running Time: 3 hours and 30 minutes, with two intermissions
Evening performances begin at 7:30 p.m., matinee at 2:00 p.m.
Groups save 15%: 206.676.5588
Seattle Opera Ticket Office: 206.389.7676/800.426.1619
Online orders: seattleopera.org
Hoffmann: William Burden / Russell Thomas*
The Villains: Nicolas Cavallier / Alfred Walker *
Nicklausse/Muse: Kate Lindsey
Hoffmann’s Beloveds: Norah Amsellem / Leah Partridge*†
The Henchmen: Keith Jameson†
Spalanzani: Steven Cole
Crespel: Arthur Woodley
Antonia’s Mother: Tichina Vaughn
Schlemil: Stephen Fish
Luther: Jonathan Silvia
Hermann: Misha Myznikov
Nathanaël: Eric Neuville
Conductor: Yves Abel
Director: Chris Alexander
Choreographer: Mark Haim
Set Designer: Robert A. Dahlstrom
Costume Designer: Marie-Therese Cramer
Lighting Designer: Robert Wierzel
English Captions: Jonathan Dean
Scenery and Costumes: Seattle Opera
† Seattle Opera debut
* May 4 and 16 only
Eric Neuville and Russell Thomas are former Seattle Opera Young Artists.
Learn more about The Tales of Hoffmann!
Seattle Opera offers the following educational opportunities:
Pre-Performance Talks: An hour and a half before every performance, in the Nesholm Family Lecture Hall at McCaw Hall, $7
Free Public Previews:
4/11/2014, 2 p.m., Everett Library
4/19/2014, 2:15 p.m., Kitsap Library
4/22/2014, 12:00 p.m., Freeland Library
4/22/2014, 2 p.m., Coupeville Library
4/23/2014, 6:30 p.m., Edmonds Library
4/24/2014, 2 p.m., Green Lake Library
4/27/2014, 2 p.m., Frye Museum
4/28/2014, 6:30 p.m., West Seattle Library
4/29/2014, 2 p.m., Queen Anne Library
4/29/2014, 7 p.m., Third Place Books
4/30/2014, 2 p.m., Ballard Library
5/1/2014, 12 p.m., Seattle Central Library
About Seattle Opera
Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2014, Seattle Opera is one of the leading opera companies in the United States.
Founded in 1963, the company is recognized internationally for its theatrically compelling and musically accomplished performances, especially the Opera’s interpretations of the works of Richard Wagner. Since 1975, Seattle Opera has presented 41 cycles of the Ring (three different productions), in addition to acclaimed productions of all the other major operas in the Wagner canon.
Seattle Opera has achieved the highest per capita attendance of any major opera company in the United States, and draws operagoers from five continents and 50 states.
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