A Regal Commentary

What follows is the work of guest blogger and ticket-winner Whalehead King, self-proclaimed "man on the Dot", Boston Fringe Neighborhoods Examiner and governor of the Dot Matrix.

I'm not for opera and I'm not against it.  I've seen a few.  This was one of the best and it wasn't just me who thought so.  My companion rated the show as one of the nicest evenings out in a long time.  Everyone around us was in as much awe as we were as the spectacle unfolded.  At curtain call, we clapped until our hands hurt.  It was that good.  The production was top notch and everyone involved pulled out all the stops.  If November 5 was dress rehearsal, the paying public are in for a whopper.

The sets and the costumes are dazzling, kaleidoscopic, hallucinatory,  Opera is the polygamous marriage of all the forms of theater: acting, singing, choreography, music, comedy, drama, tragedy, stagecraft, lighting, and in this case, puppetry!  Every scene had puppets and this simple art was anything but childish.  It added magic to the show.  It is all in French, that language of love and passion, and what better language for this story?  Titles are projected on screens to the side of the stage but you don't need to read them all, the story is easy enough to follow and even if you don't want to follow it the pageantry is enough to delight both eye and ear.

The Tales of Hoffman follows the love life of a drunken poet.  As his muse says in the prologue, "I love this foolhardy Hoffman despite his love for unworthy women."  Act I is a comedy piece, reminiscent of something that would take place in Oz.  The green of the stage and the costumes make a perfect backdrop for the brass, silver, and gold of the robots (!) who are the main characters.  Hoffman falls in love with a woman that isn't real.  Act II is more simply psychological and melancholy, cast in shades of gray.  Hoffman falls in love with a woman who sings herself to death. She has the voice of an angel. 

Act III is voluptuous tragedy starting with courtesans and their gentleman customers decked out in black and pink before the scene shifts to black and red and Hoffman commits his soul for the love of a woman.  The epilogue brings the opera back to the present in a neat cycle.  The segue is a showstopper I can't describe.  Like the rest of the show, it needs to be seen to be experienced.  The chorus at the end swept everyone in the audience to rapt attention: "Love will carry you through your years.  Love has made you more strong, stronger through your tears."  The applause at the end was like thunder clapping.  It was that good. No one wanted to leave.  We lingered and discussed what we had witnessed.  There wasn't a negative opinion in the house.

The Boston Lyric Opera production of Les Contes d'Hoffmann runs November 7, 9, 12, 14, 16 and 18 at the Shubert Theatre in Boston.  


Andy said...

"Bravo!" to Whalehead King for a rousing review.

When is the show???

Alecia said...

Hi, Andy--

The dates are: November 7, 9, 12, 14, 16, 18. Look at the Appearances at www.aleciabatson.com . There's also info at my Facebook page.

Joe said...

I look forward to seeing you in the Production this weekend. Alecia, do you have any plans to be in the other BLO productions? Rusalka and Don Giovanni i'm really looking forward to thoses two. I think you'd be great in them.

Muse Maria said...

A - you should show this to Renaud and Kathleen, I think they might appreciate it.