In celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880), one of the greatest French musical play writers, the National Opera of Korea will perform his masterpiece opera “The Tales of Hoffmann” at the Opera Theater, Seoul Arts Center from Oct. 24 to 27.
“The Tales of Hoffmann,” Offenbach’s last work, integrally encompasses all the musical play elements that French audiences of his time used to enjoy such as large-scale “grand opera” and romantic “lyric opera,” which differentiates it from light-opera “operettas” loaded with choreographic moves that brought Offenbach to fame. He added fantastic short-story plots written by German romanticism author Ernst Theodor Wilhelm Hoffmann to the ending part of each act of the opera.
The producing team of the upcoming opera performance made successful Jules Massenet’s opéra comique “Manon” last year. It consists of specialists in French operas including conductor Sebastian Lang-Lessing, director Vincent Boussard and professional stage and costume designers. Audiences will appreciate the unique contrast between tuxedo-attired actors and actresses in dresses inspired by traditional Korean attire hanbok.
As “The Tales of Hoffmann” was completed after Offenbach died, each performance has been adjusted and edited in various versions. All the casts come on the stage at the end of Act 5 at the Seoul performance to bring it to climax by delivering the message that love nurtures humans and ordeals boost the growth.
Director Boussard said in a press conference on Tuesday that the three main characters are the victims of their times under social pressure to turn into a talented lady, a good wife and wise mother, and an attractive woman, explaining that he puts focus on describing their similarities and differences.