The Tales of Hoffman

Jacques Offenbach was known for his irony, and nothing in his life was more ironic than the fact that he died before seeing the staging of his greatest work, The Tales of Hoffmann. As a result, the acts of the opera were performed out of order for almost one hundred years, until 1977 when scholarly research revealed the intensions of the original libretto.

Neal Ferreira as Spalanzani and Pamela Armstrong as Olympia
Neal Ferreira as Spalanzani
and Pamela Armstrong as Olympia
Photo: Matthew Stover
The modern psychological structure and philosophic musings of Jules Barbier's libretto (based on a play by Barbier and Michael Carré) leave a lot of room for directorial interpretation, but hats off to Opera Colorado's Stage Director/Choreographer Renaud Doucet for letting the story speak for itself and maintaining the underlying continuity between the three women—"three souls in the same body"—each of whom dominates one of the three acts.

This thread is also reflected in André Barbe's marvelous set and costumes, organized around a fabulous guilded centerpiece that progressively frames Offenbach's statue, a clock, a painting, and a mirror, before returning to Offenbach's likeness.

Pamela Armstrong as Stella
Pamela Armstrong as Stella
Photo: Matthew Stover
Pamela Armstrong once again wows us with her virtuosity as Stella and her three aspects: Olympia, Antonia, and Giulietta. Armstrong's characterizations—the mechanical Olympia, the fragile Antonia, and the theatrical Giuletta—are as polished as her silky arias.

E. T. A. Hoffmann, who wrote the stories upon which the libretto is based, is himself a character in the opera: the narrator and Stella's love interest. Julian Gavin deftly navigates Hoffmann's mercurial personality, encompassing ardent lover, melancholy ex, and bon vivant. Mezzo Katherine Rohrer, as Hoffmann's Muse and companion, Nicklausee, is a vocal and dramatic revelation.

Gaetan Laperriere as Dapertutto
Gaétan Laperriè
as Dapertutto
Photo: Matthew Stover
The costuming and sets—part of a joint production with Opera Theatre of St. Louis and Boston Lyric Opera—are inventive, fun, and lavish. The robots contructed from household objects, the striking guilded features of Offenbach and the muses, the tasteful period threads and furniture elements, whiffs of Broadway choreography, spicy character acting, and warm orchestration provide full measure of this stunning work.

The final performances of Opera Colorado's The Tales of Hoffmann are Friday, November 13th at 7:30 pm and Sunday November 15th at 2:00 pm. 800-982-2787 or

Bob Bows


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