ETA Hoffmann, whose stories inspired ballets like The Nutcracker and Coppélia, has been described a 19th-century Tim Burton. If you'd like to understand why, a new staging of Jacques Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffmann is coming to Cape Town's Artscape Theatre.
The story revolves around a poet, three women he loved, and the bizarre ways these ladies left his life. The fact that Offenbach died before he could complete his masterpiece has led to a number of different versions. And while the 1998 staging was set in a mental hospital, Cape Town Opera set designer Michael Mitchell explains his inspiration for the new production as less Rocky Horror and more Nip/Tuck. It's all about remaking people the way we'd like to see ourselves.
Beneath the surface
Italian-born South African opera legend Angelo Gobbato, who has been tempted out of retirement to direct his third Hoffmann, explains that his production decisions were based on magic. "But not fairy-tale magic," he adds quickly. "Rather, the type where you scratch the surface of the real world and find the bugs crawling underneath. A world where there is lots of jollity and frivolity on the surface, but underneath, nasty things are lurking. After all, this is Hoffmann!"
The Tales of Hoffmann (PG), presented by Cape Town Opera and the UCT Opera School (conducted by Kamal Khan), is on at Cape Town's Artscape Theatre from 24 to 29 November. Each performance is preceded by a talk in the Orchestra Rehearsal Room 45 minutes before curtain-up. Tickets are available from Computicket.
Eugene Yiga is lifestyle writer and arts journalist in Cape Town. He writes about travel, leisure, food, wine, marketing, media, TV, film, music, theatre, books, and more for over 30 different websites, newspapers, and magazines.
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