Entertainment Theatre Cape Town Opera Performs The Tales of Hoffmann

Cape Town Opera Performs The Tales of Hoffmann

Pin It


Ernst Theodor Wilhelm Hoffmann was, quite simply, the Tim Burton of the 1800s.

Fascinated by horror and fantasy, transformations and deceptions, Hoffmann's stories inspired ballets including The Nutcracker and Coppélia - and is himself the hero of Jacques Offenbach's famous but fictitious opera: The Tales of Hoffmann.

The Tales of Hoffmann is as light and digestible as Offenbach’s best known work, Orpheus in the Underworld.  Eccentric and fun, the story revolves around a poet (Hoffmann) who regales his friends with the stories of three women whom he has been besotted with, and the bizarre ways in which these ladies have exited his life.

As each bite-sized act reveals, the first lady-love, Olympia, turns out to be a robot. The second, Antonia, dies from singing too much, and the third, Giulietta, accidentally drinks poison, prepared for Nicklausse. In an advanced state of drunkenness, Hoffmann realises that all three of these women are different aspects of the prima donna who is his latest obsession, and he vows never to love again, thereby freeing himself to write poetry.

The Tales of Hoffmann made it to the silverscreen in 1951, with Moira Shearer and Robert Helpmann in theleading roles. "For the first time in my life I was treated to Grand Opera where the beauty, power and scope of the music was equally matched by the visual presentation," said Cecil B. De Mille.  The film was a massive critical success, receiving two Academy Award nominations.

For this production, South African opera legend Angelo Gobbato has been tempted out of retirement to direct the Cape Town Opera and the rising stars of the UCT Opera School in a production designed by Michael Mitchell and conducted by Kamal Khan.  Together, these three men have been rubbing their hands with glee at tackling such an eccentric gem of a piece, not performed in Cape Town since 1998.

Written in French by a German over 100 years ago, the chances are you won’t understand a word.  But please note that Cape Town Opera always provides English surtitles on a screen above the stage  

As with all Cape Town Opera productions, each performance will be preceded by a talk in the Orchestra Rehearsal Room at Artscape, 45 minutes before curtain-up.

Presented by Cape Town Opera in collaboration with the UCT Opera school, The Tales of Hoffmann will be performed at the Artscape Theatre on 24, 27, 28 and 29 November at 7.30pm and on Sunday 25 November at 6pm.  Tickets cost R 125 to R 175.