Opera program to stage 'Tales of Hoffmann'

Opera program to stage 'Tales of Hoffmann'

(From left) Matthew Clegg, Lee Ann Frahn and Eric Martens rehearse "The Tales of Hoffmann," which will be performed Feb. 19 and 21 in Kimball Recital Hall.
Michael Reinmiller
(From left) Matthew Clegg, Lee Ann Frahn and Eric Martens rehearse "The Tales of Hoffmann," which will be performed Feb. 19 and 21 in Kimball Recital Hall.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Glenn Korff School of Music's opera program will present Jacques Offenbach's "The Tales of Hoffmann" Feb. 19 and 21.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 19 and 3 p.m. Feb. 21 in Kimball Recital Hall, 1113 R St. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students and seniors, and will be available at the door one hour prior to each performance. For advance ticket sales, contact the Lied Center box office at 402-472-4747. Tickets can also be purchased online at http://go.unl.edu/wr73.

"The Tales of Hoffmann" is about Hoffmann, a poet who tells the story of his three loves. The opera is in three acts, and each act features a different love: Olympia, Antonia and Giulietta. A prologue and epilogue tie each story together. In each of the acts, a different tenor plays Hoffmann.

"The opera is about three tales of Hoffmann's life," said Patricia Kramer, a first-year Doctor of Musical Arts student. "In this story, he had three great loves that influenced his life, and this opera revolves around them."

William Shomos, director of the production and professor of music, said the production choice was inspired by requests for an evening of one-act operas.

"I thought of 'Tales of Hoffmann,'" Shomos said. "Here's an opera that's essentially three one-acts, so maybe I could divvy out more parts. The role of Hoffmann is demanding. The villain is very demanding. And the love interest is very demanding. And 'Don Giovanni' in the fall put huge demands on some of our best voices, so I thought, 'Why not?'"

Bethany Eckloff, a second-year Master of Music student, said the structure of the opera makes it interesting.

"This production is unique in that it is being staged as three one-acts — this works in my mind, artistically, because it alludes to the fact that with each new love, you are also a different person," Eckloff said. "Educationally, it is wonderful because we get to hear and experience three of our most talented tenors in this program take on the difficult role of Hoffmann."

Eckloff plays Olympia, who is a mechanical doll.

"Olympia is one of the most difficult roles I've played, but also one of the most exciting," she said. "She is a mechanical doll similar to what one would see in a music box. She doesn't sing a lot, but when she does, it is extremely difficult technically, with stratospherically high notes and quick, disjunctive melodic lines. She is the perfect combination of impressive and comical."

Hoffmann is played by Matthew Clegg, Jon Suek and Alfonzo Cooper.

"Hoffmann could be described as a mildly heroic man whose love of wine is only surpassed by his love of women," Clegg said. "Because Hoffmann is also a poet, there is also a battle being fought between his love of women and his higher, more creative nature. At certain moments in the opera, Hoffmann tries to swear off women without success."

The opera features a set design by J.D. Madsen, while lighting is designed by Laurel Shoemaker. Both are assistant professors in the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film.

"'The Tales of Hoffmann' will showcase the quality of the Glenn Korff School of Music's opera program," Eckloff said.

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