Magazine article Musical Opinion

The Tales of Hoffmann

Magazine article Musical Opinion

The Tales of Hoffmann

Article excerpt

English National Opera

Offenbach made his reputation with farce but wanted to be taken seriously. This, his final opera, is certainly that, although it does have its comic moments, if you can call falling in love with a mechanical doll funny. In a new production at ENO on 10th February under Director Richard Jones it's more a grotesque than a romp. Jones has opted for the acts to be in the order that Offenbach wrote them, although Giulietta often precedes Antonia in many productions.

Offenbach's swansong, he died never having quite finished it and never saw it performed, is considered by many to be his only true opera; it's certainly the only one with singing throughout. There is much fine music within, which conductor Antony Walker elicited throughout.

The four female girlfriends, Stella, Olympia, Antonia and Giulietta, (in that order), were all sung by the young American soprano Georgia Jarman. Making her ENO debut, she will, on this showing at least, go far. ¿es oiseaux dans la charmille is not an easy aria but she both sang and acted it brilliantly during what was pretty much the only comic part of the evening. This coloratura was different from the less formal Antonia and Giulietta but perhaps the latter was a slight hurdle too far in her lower register at least. It's a long and demanding role, perhaps she was getting tired.

The four adversaries, Lindorf, Coppelius, Dr Miracle and Dapertutto are again all sung by one voice, bass baritone Clive Bayley. …

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