17August2017

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Perhaps not the best known opera, Cape Town Opera’s interpretation of Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann is a feast for the eyes and ears.

Particularly exciting to me was that the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, normally performing out of sight in the pit, are seated on stage behind the main set. So throughout the entire opera you can see the orchestra performing in the background.

The set design is superb and I marvelled at how the stage was transformed from a back street to a bustling theatre bar, science lab and more, in mere seconds. Lighting is also used very effectively to help set the mood, with hues ranging from deep blue to bright red covering the stage at different times.

The Tales of Hoffmann provides an interesting challenge to any opera company: Offenbach died in 1880 - before he could complete the opera, thus different versions of the opera have been created and handed down. Director Angelo Gobbato, in his third outing with the Tales of Hoffmann (having previously produced the opera in 1972 and then again in 1980) has based the latest interpretation on the Choudens version.

Hoffmann, a famous poet, is incredibly unlucky in love and the opera tells the story of his three great loves – Olympia, Antonia and Giulietta – and how believes his arch enemy, Lindorf, is the engineer of his failed romances.

Olympia turns out to be an automaton that is destroyed by her co-creator, Antonia a fragile opera singer who will die if she sings (which she does) and Giuletta, a courtesan who manipulates and rejects Hoffman.

The Tales of Hoffman is performed by the Cape Town Opera from 24 -29 November at the Artscape Theatre. Ticket prices range from R125- R175.

photo80x80Jeremy Abbott is a born and bred Capetonian and loves everything about Cape Town,

except the southeaster, traffic jams, taxis... the list goes on... and so does he...

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