Les contes d’Hoffmann

Les contes d’Hoffmann was on PBS Sunday night. It is high up there in my favorite operas. I was compelled to watch even though it started at 10pm and ran through midnight. There is a movie from the 1950s that I loved as a child and only recently have I been catching versions of it on stage. This 2009, though darker than most, was beautiful.

It was an odd version. Apparently with some Kafka influences? Hm. Pretty though. Very pretty. Just not very…standard I guess. Nicklausse (portrayed by Kate Lindsey in the 2009 version) is my favorite character and reviews I’ve read indicate in each new production (the opera was composed but never put to stage so any and all interpretations have been made over the years) her role grows and grows. Obviously because everyone else notices how compelling she is throughout. In this latest one she was in nearly every scene even if it just involved looming in the background. She is the muse and the bestfriend, the he/she figure that struts around like she owns the stage. She was portrayed very well in this one.  I think Nicklausse has looked right to me only a couple times before so I am very happy to have stumbled upon this 2009 version. She mostly is wearing a top hat, but towards the end they had her in a buccaneer hat and later a dress with the top hat. *squee*

Debutante Lindsey, who looks and sounds like a young Federica von Stade, plays the dual roles of Hoffmann’s muse and friend Nicklausse. Some friend. Nicklausse spends an awful lot of stage time with the opera’s four villains, devilishly interpreted by Alan Held, and at opera’s end, Nicklausse delivers Hoffmann back to the muse. The poet is deeply scathed by love but ready again to write, finally. – Theater Review

The part of Nicklaus has been expanded so that it is a central part of the opera. Sher has made her an accomplice of the four villains. She’s trying to pry Hoffmann away from his physical lovers and towards his muse – her. Kate Lindsey’s impersonation was sinister. Her voice was under good control and continued to impress. This is a fine young artist. – Medicine Opera

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