Wednesday, 29 August 2007


On Tuesday morning we saw a stage rehearsal of Opera Australia’s new production of the Tales of Hoffmann. Wikipedia has information about the opera itself –

There will be more opportunities to talk about this production, but my first impressions are that it is excellent.

The rehearsal covered Act 2 (Giulietta), Act3 (Antonia) and the Epilogue. The opera is performed with spoken dialogue in English and sung in French, which may cause some comment: the last production of Hoffmann was wholly in French. The English dialogue adds to intelligibility but there is some clash between the Australian accented English and the French.

There is one basic set on a revolving stage which has some changeable elements. Various props are used to good effect in setting the scene for each act. The set works well.

Emma Mathews sings all the soprano roles and John Wegner all the bass. And some other multi tasked singers as well.

There was much stopping and starting and some sections were repeated. Including, I am happy to say the wonderful trio in the Antonia Act, music which might have been written with Emma Mathews in mind.

The skill of the musicians in picking up the music accurately from a direction like “6 (bars ) before K” is remarkable to a non musician. The singers do not have the music but do almost as well from a cue or a few notes hummed by the conductor.

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