Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Speight's last opera: "The Tales of Hoffmann" Coming May 3-17

Scenes from Seattle Opera's 2005 production. Rozarii Lynch photo
We conclude our 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,” Speight says. “It was funny, moving, and magical in 2005, and I expect this revival to be even better.”

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."

Rozarii Lynch photo

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.

Rozarii Lynch photo

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.

For tickets and more information go to

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.

Rozarii Lynch photo

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