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Les contes d’Hoffman’

Ankur Chawla | Monday, April 26, 2010

As a first time opera-goer, I was thoroughly impressed with Opera Notre Dame’s production of “The Tales of Hoffman.” The performers did an incredible job bringing Jacques Offenbach’s final masterpiece to life.

“The Tales of Hoffman” follows the life of Hoffman, a poet searching for love. As he meets different women, he is sabotaged and misguided by various people. Nicklausse is a sidekick of sorts to Hoffman, and she helps him along each of his endeavors. Her role was played by sophomore Lina Delmastro (also played by senior Jennifer Valencia) and her voice was possibly the best of the night. At the end of the opera, the Muse of poetry seduces Hoffman and they become lovers.

The first of the three women Hoffman falls for is Olympia. Olympia is a robot, created to sing and look attractive. Coppélius, a nemesis of Hoffman, sells him a pair of magic glasses that make Hoffman think Olympia is real. Once Hoffman discovers that Olympia isn’t real, he is mocked and ridiculed. Senior Angela Lauber played the role of Olympia (also played by senior Clarisa Ramos) and her acting was one of the highlights of the night.

The second and third lovers, Antonia and Giulietta, both made Hoffman fall for them using their voices. Giulietta is a courtesan and under the orders of Captain Dapertutto is paid to seduce Hoffman. Meanwhile, Antonia’s father is skeptical of her being with Hoffman and forbids her from singing. Dr. Miracle corners Antonia as she is singing and poisons her. Similarly, as Dapertutto prepares to poison Nicklausse, Giulietta drinks the poison by mistake.

Hoffman, alone and isolated, finally encounters the Muse. The Muse tells Hoffman that she is his true love: poetry. The two of them close the opera hand in hand walking toward the back of the stage.

While skeptical before going to the opera, this performance captured my attention from the first act. A bit of comic relief in the middle of the opera came as a butler on stage did a song and dance number. His tap dancing and resonant voice was one of the high points of the night. “Les contes d’Hoffman” was a wonderful production and I applaud everyone who was a part of the show.

4 Shamrocks

Contact Ankur Chawla at achawla@nd.edu