Hoffmann is a magical blend of adventure, romance and fantasy, with an endless stream of gorgeous melodies, seductive and tender love scenes, bizarre characters – comic, romantic or villainous, and tragic climaxes. All four heroines give tour-de-force performances in one of the most ravishing productions.
The Classical Music Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago (CMDFTT), soon to be rebranded the Picoplat Music Development Foundation, is hosting the production of Tales of Hoffmann, along with several other events from tonight until July 10.
Reflecting on the production CMDFTT director Annette Dopwell said in a media release that Offenbach’s music was overwhelming.
“Attending my first rehearsal, I came out, overwhelmed by the music of Jacques Offenbach and the electrifying, out-of-this-world cast,” she said.
Real-life poet ETA Hoffmann (on whom the opera is based) shared boozy recollections of the women he loved and lost and set the plot in motion. Helmer Hilwig’s staging captures the half-remembered, half-fantasy dream world of Offenbach’s final masterpiece.
“I think Trinis are going to love it. It’s a plot that I think everyone can identify with,” said soprano Maegan Pollonais who will play the role of The Muse who disguises herself as Hoffmann’s best friend and “wingman” Nicklausse.
“There are many scenes that take place in a bar where the characters are ‘ole talkin’ with friends, giving ‘picong’, and tracking girls.
A typical Friday night for most Trinis!” Urged on by his drinking buddies, Hoffmann, brilliantly acted by Raguel Gabriel, recounts the stories of the fascinating women who captured his heart—wind-up doll Olympia (Natalia Dopwell), conniving Giulietta (Stephanie Nahous), fragile Antonia (Cara Adams) and the elusive Stella (Annaliese Kelly).
It’s beautiful that the Muse, who is also part of him, reminds him that all he needs to get back on track is already inside him,” explained Raguel Gabriel.
Hoffmann’s doomed pursuit of romance is foiled by sinister figures of darkness at every turn.
Other cast members are Justin Welsh, Rory Wallace, Nigel Floyd and Shellon Antoine.
For many cast members of Tales of Hoffmann opera and classical music are their chosen careers and most wish opera and classical music were part of the daily culture locally and not seen as something foreign, the release said. One of the ways in which the CMDFTT is working to expand the awareness of locally-produced opera is by appealling to different audiences and creating admission-free events during the TT Opera Festival.
CMDFTT director and soprano, Natalia Dopwell said her favourite part of the festival is performing for children. A free schoolchildren’s day will be held on July 5.
“A child is both the toughest and most rewarding audience member as their joy is without any pretence.
“If you’re not giving 100 you lose them to distraction very quickly, but when they enjoy a performance you know it immediately, their responses are totally honest,” Dopwell said.
This year, a special Eid-ul-Fitr show on July 6, will give parents a chance to bring their children (under 12 and get in free on each adult ticket) and experience their children’s excitement in experiencing live opera for the first time.
Tales of Hoffmann is produced by the team that brought Mozart’s Die Fledermaus (2014) and Cosi fan Tutte (2015) to the Queen’s Hall stage in previous editions.
Musical director, June Nathaniel conducts Offenbach’s compellingly luminous score, with stage director Hilwig and costumes designed by Margaret Sheppard.
Newcomer to the team as set designer, is acclaimed mas man Brian MacFarlane of MacFarlane’s Design Studios.
The TT Opera Festival is presented with the support of the National Gas Company of TT, the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts and under the patronage of Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly and “Youth in Music” partner, the Ministry of Education.
Approximate opera running time is three hours and 35 minutes, including two intermissions.
Tickets are available at the Queen’s Hall Box Office. For more info visit: http://www.ttoperafest.
com or email: ttoperafest@gmail.