Drama, flair, dark humour and mystery are words that quickly flooded my mind during the Edmonton Opera’s production of Les Contes d’Hoffmann. Self-described as a “A dark fairy tale under the big top”, the performance delivers exactly what it promises, along with a few unexpected turns. Featuring the talents of an almost exclusively Canadian cast, Les Contes demonstrates that the opera is indeed thriving right here in our city. The production is truly accessible to all audiences – looking for energy? The casts got it. Hoping for some romance? Les Contes delivers. Strange and fantastic at the same time, this opera takes the audience through the tragic love tales of a Monsieur Hoffmann, all set against the back-drop of an aged 19th century circus. The tales portray the younger days of Hoffmann, following his pursuits and subsequent failures with love – all culminating with a surprising twist. With everything from contortionists to bearded ladies, turn of the century robots to a deranged scientist, this opera definitely opened my eyes to the wonder that is opera.
What I did expect was to be entertained. What I did not expect was to want more. Attending the opera is definitely not a typical endeavor for myself, and in fact it was my first. Beyond exceeding my expectations through the performance itself, Les Contes was a reminder to myself that the preforming arts in general deserve far more attention. You are able to experience exceptional, live talent, fairly up close and personally. Further, you restore your appreciation for forms of art that have existed within societies long before television and the internet were at our disposal. My experience with Les Contes definitely re-ignited a love for the preforming arts, as I hope it does with everyone who has the opportunity to experience it.
Therefore whether you are an opera enthusiast or have yet to enjoy your first, Les Contes is a perfect introduction to the scene. I highly recommend carving out a moment every now and then to add some preforming arts to your life, as I know I will be doing with the Edmonton Opera in the future.
Les Contes D’Hoffman will be showing at the Northern Jubilee Auditorium on February 7th. You can find tickets here.
Photo credit: Kelly Redinger