After a hiatus of 25 years, Offenbach's magnum opus returns to the Hungarian State Opera repertoire in a much-anticipated staging by Kriszta Székely. The production of Les Contes Hoffmann is presented in a double cast at the Erkel Theatre, the 4 December 2021 premiere features Klára Kolonits, Boldizsár László and Péter Kálmán under the baton of Gergely Kesselyák.
Based on novellas by German author E. T. A. Hoffmann, in Les Contes d’Hoffmann, his unfinished final work, Jacques Offenbach departs from the style of his hilariously satirical operettas, which are full of the witty and mocking social criticism of his era. Naturally, this work is not devoid of humour either, but the poet’s romantic adventures are dominated by dark, sometimes fateful, chromatic nuances. The manuscript left by Offenbach led to the creation of a number of versions over the years, of which the Opera now presents the most popular version from 1907.
Accompanying Hoffmann throughout his search for the absolute ideal of femininity and bringing him misery are four wicked characters, forcing him to constantly confront death even in his state of amorous intoxication. The Opera prepares two kinds of interpretations for its new production. In the first one, Klára Kolonits performs all four female roles as intended by Offenbach himself. The other one features four different singers, young Hungarian talents – Réka Piroska Jónás as Olympia, Lilla Horti as Antonia, Zsuzsanna Ádám as Giulietta, and Éva Bernáth as Stella – in these roles. They are partnered with outstanding soloists such as Boldizsár László / Zoltán Nyári in the title role, Péter Kálmán (Lindorf / Coppélius / Miracle / Dapertutto), Viktória Mester (Muse / Nicklausse) as well as Tibor Szappanos, Géza Gábor, Bence Pataki and András Kőrösi.
Although her background is primarily in spoken theatre, Kriszta Székely has several successful opera commissions under her belt, including La putain respectueuse and La princesse jaune. However, Offenbach's masterpiece is her first full-length opera to stage, originally planned for the previous season. Her production interprets Hoffmann's stories as a certain spiritual journey that take place in the waiting lounge of a railway station featuring spectacular sets by Nelli Pallós, costumes by Dóra Pattantyus, and choreography by Krisztián Gergye. The Hungarian State Opera Orchestra and Chorus (chorus director: Gábor Csiki) are conducted by Gergely Kesselyák.
Following the premiere on 4 December, Les Contes d'Hoffmann can be seen on 7, 9 and 15 December at the Erkel Theatre.