The Tales of Hoffmann

Jacques Offenbach - Autumn 2015

A dark comedy from the master of French operetta, based on the brilliant, bizarre stories of fantasy author E.T.A. Hoffmann.

Conductor 
Philip Sunderland
Director 
James Bonas
Designer 
Oliver Townsend
Lighting Designer 
Mark Howland

With this hugely enjoyable production, English Touring Opera hits the jackpot. Catch it on its forthcoming tour – I guarantee you an evening rich in musical and theatrical pleasure. The singing is of exceptional quality. This is ETO at its best.

5 STARS, Telegraph

Blending the comic and the sinister, Offenbach’s fantastical opera is imaginatively realised in ETO’s visually striking and strongly cast production.

4 STARS, The Stage

Furness is terrific in the immensely difficult title role. Gauchely attractive, he charts Hoffmann’s descent from naive idealism to self-destructive despair with compelling veracity, and sings it all with great ease and impeccable style.

Guardian

There’s much to enjoy, particularly from the women. Ilona Domnich … sings lusciously in the soprano roles.

The Times

From the master of French operetta, who virtually reinvented comic opera in France, this work of genius, studded with famous melodies like the Barcarolle, is as dark a comedy as you can get. No wonder, you say – for it is based on the brilliant, bizarre stories of E.T.A. Hoffmann!

Late at night in a tavern, while waiting for his latest mistress, the character Hoffmann tells an audience the story of his former loves, always shadowed by a dark adversary. These versions of an ideal woman range from a mechanical doll (the celebrated Olympia, whose aria literally unwinds!) to a Venetian courtesan – and as he recreates them he presents around them a gallery of strange, vivid characters and remarkable narrative.

Offenbach’s masterpiece has had many lives – and this new production by James Bonas promises to be inventive, and highly theatrical, matching the virtuoso talents of young tenor Sam Furness in the title role, ETO favourite Ilona Domnich as his three heroines, and Louise Mott (from ETO’s Ariodante) as his friend and inspiration.

New production, sung in English with surtitles
New English version by Jeff Clarke
Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes (incl. interval)
Age guidance: 12+

Discover more

• Director’s notes: Hoffmann as a maker of silent movies
10 questions for soprano Ilona Domnich
• Ilona Domnich sings live on Woman’s Hour

Season podcast and music playlist

Showing At

  1. Royal College of Music
    9th Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm
  2. Royal College of Music
    10th Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm
  3. Buxton Opera House
    17th Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm
  4. Malvern Theatres
    23rd Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm
  5. Gala Theatre, Durham
    27th Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm
  6. Harrogate Theatre
    31st Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm
  7. West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge
    6th Nov 2015 - 7:30 pm
  8. Theatre Royal Bath
    10th Nov 2015 - 7:30 pm
  9. Snape Maltings Concert Hall
    14th Nov 2015 - 7:30 pm
  10. Exeter Northcott Theatre
    19th Nov 2015 - 7:30 pm
  11. Exeter Northcott Theatre
    21st Nov 2015 - 7:30 pm
  1. Royal College of Music — 9th Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm

    Prince Consort Road, London, SW7 2BS

  2. Royal College of Music — 10th Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm

    Prince Consort Road, London, SW7 2BS

  3. Buxton Opera House — 17th Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm

    Water Street, SK17 6XN

  4. Malvern Theatres — 23rd Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm

    Malvern Theatres, Grange Road, Malvern, Worcestershire, WR14 3HB

  5. Gala Theatre, Durham — 27th Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm

    1 Millennium Place, Town Centre, Durham, DH1 1WA

  6. Harrogate Theatre — 31st Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm

    Harrogate Theatre, Oxford Street, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG1 1QF

  7. West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge — 6th Nov 2015 - 7:30 pm

    11 West Road, Cambridge, CB3 9DP

  8. Theatre Royal Bath — 10th Nov 2015 - 7:30 pm

    Theatre Royal Bath, Sawclose, Bath, BA1 1ET

  9. Snape Maltings Concert Hall — 14th Nov 2015 - 7:30 pm

    Aldeburgh Music, Snape Maltings Concert Hall, Snape, Suffolk, IP17 1SP

  10. Exeter Northcott Theatre — 19th Nov 2015 - 7:30 pm

    Exeter Northcott, Stocker Road, Exeter, EX4 4QB

  11. Exeter Northcott Theatre — 21st Nov 2015 - 7:30 pm

    Exeter Northcott, Stocker Road, Exeter, EX4 4QB

Philip Sunderland

Philip Sunderland

Conductor

Philip was born in Norwich and was educated at the Cathedral School. He is a graduate of RAM and NOS.
Philip has conducted La Traviata and Sweeney Todd for ON, where he was Chorus Master from 1999 to 2004. He also conducted numerous concerts with the chorus and orchestra, including an acclaimed performance of Brahms Ein deutsches Requiem in York Minster.
For ETO, Philip has conducted The Marriage of Figaro, La Cenerentola, The Pearl Fishers and Daughter of the Regiment. He conducted Eugene Onegin at ROH for the National Youth Opera event 2006.
As well as his work at RCM, Philip is Music Director to W11 Opera for Young People, for whom he conducts a new commission each year. His opera The Glass Knight will receive its premiere at Saffron Walden County High School next year.

James Bonas

James Bonas

Director

Oliver Townsend

Oliver Townsend

Designer

Mark Howland

Mark Howland

Lighting Designer

Cast

Sam Furness

Sam Furness

Hoffmann

Ilona Domnich

Ilona Domnich

Olympia / Antonia / Giulietta

Ilona Domnich is a rising opera star described by critics as a memorable voice of silken beauty with a luminous edge to the tone, a sensitive musician and an actress of magnetic presence. She was chosen by Opera Now 2014 as one of their Top 10 high flyers, a “new generation of sopranos who are destined to have impressive careers”.

Ilona Domnich was born in St. Petersburg, and studied at the Royal College of Music. She was discovered by Vera Rozsa who invited her to join the RCM after hearing her at a vocal masterclass. She has performed with companies including English National Opera, Grange Park Opera, Buxton Festival, Iford Arts Festival, Bury Court and ETO in roles including Rosina IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA, Tatyana EUGENE ONEGIN, Gilda RIGOLETTO, Melisande PELLEAS ET MELISANDE, Pamina DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE, Blonde DIE ENTFÜHRUNG AUS DEM SERAIL, Jacqueline FORTUNIO, Magda LA RONDINE, Zerlina DON GIOVANNI, Countess LE NOZZE DI FIGARO. She has recently recorded a CD of operatic arias with Signum Records.

Louise Mott

Louise Mott

Nicklausse / Muse

Louise Mott studied at the GSMD and the RCM (Opera Course) and NOS. She made her débuts at ENO as Bradamante Alcina, WNO as Annio La Clemenza di Tito and Opera North as Annina Der Rosenkavalier, followed by Fidalma Il matrimonio segreto and 2nd Witch (& Dido cover) Dido and Aeneas. She sang Ariodante for ETO and Mme Larina Eugene Onegin for Scottish Opera on Tour. For the Early Opera Company she has sung Agrippina, Ruggiero Alcina, Ariodante, Sesto Giulio Cesare, Orlando, Rosmira Partenope, Melissa Amadigi, Serse and Dido Dido and Aeneas. Other roles include Meg Page Falstaff for Diva Opera and Pfalztheater Kaiserslautern, and Katarina Schratt Mayerling for The Royal Ballet at The Royal Opera House. Other roles for Diva Opera include Count Orlofsky Die Fledermaus, The Marchise of Birkenfeld La fille du Regiment, Zweite Dame Die Zauberflöte, Flora Bervoix La Traviata, Nicklausse Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Alisa Lucia di Lammermoor and Marcellina Le Nozze di Figaro.

Contemporary opera performances include for Almeida Opera: Ion (Param Vir), God’s Liar (John Casken), Marguerite Hey, Persephone! (Deidre Gribbin) and Marlinchen The Juniper Tree (Roderick Watkins), also at the Muffathalle, Munich; for The Opera Group: Blind Mary The Martyrdom of St Magnus, Penelope Linen from Smyrna (Edward Rushton), Cordula Wagner The Shops (Edward Rushton) at the Bregenz Festival and Priestess Seven Angels (Luke Bedford) at the Brighton Festival; for Tête à Tête: Penelope in Odysseus Unwound and Angela in Push (David Bruce). Other performances have included Blind Mary The Martyrdom of St Magnus at the Oslo Kammermusik Festival and with the Hebrides Ensemble at the Orkney Festival, Marcella Alban (Tom Wiggall) at St Albans Abbey, Wife/Sphinx/Doreen Greek (Mark-Anthony Turnage) with the London Sinfonietta, and Helen King Priam at the Brighton Festival.

Warwick Fyfe

Warwick Fyfe

Lindorf, Coppélius, Miracle

Tim Dawkins

Tim Dawkins

Luther / Crespel

Timothy Dawkins studied at the RCM (scholarship). He joined GFO and was awarded the Erich Vietheer Award for ‘a promising Glyndebourne singer’. He has sung with Scottish Opera, Opera North and ENO.

Operatic roles include Leporello Don Giovanni (Batignano Italy), Sparafucile Rigoletto, Surin Queen of Spades, Angelotti Tosca, Der Haushofmeister Capriccio, Badger/Parson Cunning Little Vixen, Ashby La Fanciulla Del West and Maitre Andre in Messager’s Fortunio (Grange Park), Graf Dominik Arabella (Glyndebourne), Colline La bohème, Don Fernando Fidelio, Quinault Adriana Lecouvreu_r, Tom _Un Ballo in Maschera (Opera Holland Park) and Le Spectre Hamlet (Chelsea Opera Group). Superintendent Budd Albert Herring (English Touring Opera and Aldeburgh Festival), Speaker Flute USA tour, roles in Fairy Queen English Bach Festival, and Kurt Weill in Normandy. Recordings include roles in Goehr’s Arianna for the NMC label.

Recent appearances have included Sparafucile Rigoletto for Longborough Festival, Crespel Tales of Hoffmann (ETO) , title role in Noye’s Fludde and Verdi’s Requiem at St John’s Smith Square.

Matt R J Ward

Matt R J Ward

Andrès / Cochenille / Frantz

Matt is a recent graduate of RCM, where he studied with Justin Lavender supported by the RCM Yvonne Wells Award. Roles at RCM include Arnalta in L’incoronazione di Poppea, Frick in La Vie Parisienne, Don Curzio in Le nozze di Figaro and Messenger in The Life to Come (libretto and direction by Stephen Fry). Other roles include Mercury in Orpheus in the Underworld, Nanki-Poo (cover) in The Mikado, The Rector (cover) in Peter Grimes (West Australian Opera Company), Laurie in Little Women, Le Chevalier in Dialogues of the Carmelites, and Flute in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (West Australian Academy of Performing Arts). www.mattrjward.com

Adam Tunnicliffe

Adam Tunnicliffe

Nathanaël / Spalanzani / Pitichinaccio

Canadian Tenor Adam Tunnicliffe studied at Christ Church, Oxford and at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Operatic roles include the title roles in Massenet’s Werther at Grimebourn Festival, Weber’s Oberon at the Cadogan Hall, The Rake’s Progress Saffron Opera Group and Albert Herring for English Touring Opera. Adam has sung numerous roles for ETO including Sandy in Peter Maxwell Davis’ The Lighthouse, Lensky -Eugene Onegin, Young Guard in their Olivier award winning production of Tippett’s King Priam, John Shears in Britten’s Paul Bunyan, Edmondo -L’assedio di Calais (Donizetti), Porcupine in Picker’s Fantastic Mr Fox, Young Lover -Il Tabarro and Masquerader in Linley’s The Duenna. Other roles include Quint in Turn of the Screw, Rinuccio -Gianni Schicchi for Opera Holland Park’s young artist programme, Sumers in Cimerosa’s Italian Girl in London for Bampton Classical Opera, Canio -I Pagliacci (Garden Opera), Ferrando -Cosi fan Tutte, Vogelsang -Der Schauspieldirektor, Beppe -Rita (Donizetti), Alfredo -La Traviata, Prince Phillipe in Berkeley’s A Dinner Engagement, Chevalier -Le Comte d’Ory (Rossini), Don Pelagio -La Canterina (Haydn), and Artabanes in Arne’s Artaxerxes. Adam has also enjoyed working in physical music theatre with the renowned troupe Nico and the Navigators in Berlin. World premier performances include Captain in Goehr’s Promised End (ETO), Admiral in Le Gendre’s Burial at Thebes (The Globe Theatre) and Oh, Whistle and I’ll Come by Louis Mander at this year’s Tete a Tete Festival.

Ashley Mercer

Ashley Mercer

Student / Schlémil

Ashley’s interest in singing began at school where he was a member of the chapel choir and performed in productions of Bugsy Malone and Guys and Dolls (the latter as Nicely-nicely Johnson – his first, and last, appearance as a tenor!) and he went on to join the National Youth Choir of Great Britain, performing and recording across the UK. On arriving at King’s College London to study physics, he found a natural home in the chapel choir under David Trendell, with whom he recorded for Gaudeamus and broadcast on BBC Radio 3; and also as a performer, director and conductor of Gilbert & Sullivan and musical theatre. A brief stint in the City followed before he decided to return to study singing formally, and he recently graduated with distinction from the Masters programme at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, where he was a TCM Trust Scholar and a Kathleen Roberts scholar, and was awarded the Paul Simm Opera Prize. He was a Christine Collins Young Artist for Opera Holland Park and recently made his main stage debut for Wexford Festival Opera.

Recent and future opera engagements include Badger and Parson (The Cunning Little Vixen) for British Youth Opera; Ernest Shackleton (Shackleton’s Cat), and covering both Colline and Alcindoro (La bohème) for English Touring Opera; German Soldier (Silent Night, European premiere) and Usher (Trial by Jury) for Wexford Festival Opera; Publio (La clemenza di Tito) for Midsummer Opera; Jupiter (Orpheus in the Underworld) for Trinity Laban; Dr Craven (McNeff’s The Secret Garden) for Trinty Laban and The Banff Centre, Canada.











Showing At

  1. Royal College of Music
    9th Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm
  2. Royal College of Music
    10th Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm
  3. Buxton Opera House
    17th Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm
  4. Malvern Theatres
    23rd Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm
  5. Gala Theatre, Durham
    27th Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm
  6. Harrogate Theatre
    31st Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm
  7. West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge
    6th Nov 2015 - 7:30 pm
  8. Theatre Royal Bath
    10th Nov 2015 - 7:30 pm
  9. Snape Maltings Concert Hall
    14th Nov 2015 - 7:30 pm
  10. Exeter Northcott Theatre
    19th Nov 2015 - 7:30 pm
  11. Exeter Northcott Theatre
    21st Nov 2015 - 7:30 pm

ETO is offering free short secondary school workshops this autumn to accompany our production of Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann.

We had a fantastic time – it was a great first opera for the students and they were really positive about it – really enjoyed it. I massively appreciate the openness with which the theatre and ETO allowed us access on stage and gave us a chance to be in the auditorium with the director, designer and cast members. It was such a privilege and really exciting to feel part of it. I think it made the whole experience more “edible” for them so thanks a million to you all. Space costumes were hilarious!

Teacher, Chingford Foundation School, on 2014’s workshop

The staff conductor will come into schools and talk with students about the opera itself; he will also explain how the production has travelled from an original concept to the stage with the help of the designers’ model boxes. Whenever possible students will look at the set itself just before curtain-up in local theatres, and meet a few of the singers backstage.

The director’s workshop during the afternoon was very interesting and offered a genuine insight into both ETO and his own experience of working professionally in the theatre, which was exceptionally valuable for the students. Overall, I felt that this was a very successful experience for my students and one which I hope will open them up to attending more theatre and opera of their own volition.

Teacher, Framwellgate School, Durham, on 2014’s workshop

This is a unique opportunity to explore the real gritty world of opera and how it is produced. At the core of the experience is the chance to see a great opera in a brand new production by ETO’s Olivier Award-winning team. After having seen the show, students will be invited to write reviews and a selection will be published on ETO’s website and blog.

What each school gets:

  • A short workshop with an ETO conductor about the opera and the evolution of the production

  • A visit onto the stage of the local theatre prior to the show (whenever possible)

  • Discounted tickets to see Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann in their local venue

  • A meeting with members of the professional cast after the show

This experience is aimed at Music or Drama GCSE or A-level groups, but would be a great experience for any keen secondary school-aged group.

For more information or to book this experience, please contact Lucy Beech: lucy.beech@englishtouringopera.org.uk or call 020 7833 2555.

Your Comments

  1. Really looking forward to seeing this production in Harrogate. Especially looking forward to hearing Warwick Fyfe sing again.

    Said Lesley Horne at 10:48am on 2nd Oct 2015

  2. Ilona Domnich simply blew us away with her tremendous vocal versatility and depth. A superb performance all round. The best ETO production that I have seen.

    Said eve at 14:15pm on 10th Nov 2015

  3. A fantastic production of 'The Tales of Hoffman' - wonderfully sung and very imaginatively presented - loved the way the Olympia doll scene was done - overall, a really first class evening! Will be back to see future productions from this talented company.

    Said Evelyn Moss at 22:20pm on 10th Nov 2015

  4. From the bizarre to the brilliant! Entertainment at its best. Thank you!

    Said m m Barclay at 22:42pm on 14th Nov 2015

  5. A wonderful evening's entertainment. Great singing and imaginative production supported by first class playing of the reduced score by the by the small orchestra which sounded bigger than its numbers. As ever, it was difficult to distinguish words sung in English and there is little point in surtitles if they are too small, or in the case of one monitor, too faint to be read even from a row nearer the front than the back.

    Said Mervyn Pearson at 08:49am on 18th Nov 2015

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