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Special Event – Inaugurations
La Fenice di Venezia inaugurates the 2023/24 Season with Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann
The direction is by Damiano Michieletto, on the podium the specialist Frédéric Chaslin

La Fenice Theater Foundation Presents

“ Opera and Ballet Season 2023 / 24 ”
To the La Fenice Theater of Venice Sara Les Contes d'Hoffmann of Jacques Offenbach to kick off the 2023-24 opera season: the famous French title returns to the lagoon stage, where it had been missing for almost thirty years, in a new staging directed by Damiano Michieletto and the musical direction of  Frédéric Chaslin, specialist of this repertoire. The creative team has been tested, with Paolo Fantin who signs the scenes, Carla Teti the costumes, Alessandro Carletti the lighting design and Chiara Vecchi the choreography.

With the'Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro La Fenice will feature a notable cast that sees Ivan Ayon Rivas, Alex Esposito, Carmela Remigio, Veronique Gens is Rocio Pérez in the main roles.

Made in international co-production with Opera Australia which celebrates its fiftieth anniversary, with the Royal Opera House Covent Garden from London and theOpéra National de Lyon, the new setup will debut at the opening of the season on November 24 and will be on stage for another four performances, the 26, 28, 30 November is December 2, 2023.

Opéra-fantastique in a prologue, three acts and an epilogue with a libretto by Jules Barber, Hoffman's Tales originate from the play of the same name Jules Barbier, in turn based on a play written in 1851 together with Michel Carré and inspired by the three fantastic-demonic stories of the great German romantic writer ETA Hoffmann (The Sandman, The story of the lost reflection is The violin of Cremona). Jacques Offenbach composed the work in 1880 but did not have time to see the world premiere, which took place posthumously in February of the following year at the Opèra-Comique in Paris.

«I thought about Contes d'Hoffmann like a journey through time – declared the Venetian director Damiano Michieletto – a look at the different ages of the protagonist's life: the child, the boy, the already disillusioned young man, all reflected in the female protagonists Olympia, Antonia and Juliet. Stella will close the story by destroying Hoffmann's illusions, a bit as if she were the devil herself. And in fact in my opinion there are two protagonists of this work, because next to Hoffmann there is always the devil, who changes his name and appearance but always remains his counterpart. It is precisely in the relationship between the two of them that in my opinion the story develops. If the devil, that is, the antagonist, were eliminated, the story would not be able to work. The story we have constructed is that of a man coming to terms with his past. There is no realistic or psychological dimension: it is an imaginative and surreal tale. The plot presents us with a man who comes to terms with the losses and wounds he has had in his history and with the fact that he now finds himself alone to celebrate his old age, with his ghosts and his visions."

On an aesthetic level – continues Michieletto – it is one of the richest, most complex and detailed shows I have ever created. Both because there is a very virtuous scenography, which presents very particular and evident scene changes. Both for the choreographic part, which has a notable impact on the show. Again, both for the role of the choir, which is very present, especially in the second act. And finally, because there is a huge crowd of characters, including a group of very young dancers, in addition to the video contributions. It is a complex, lively and dynamic show."

The link between Frédéric Chaslin is Les Contes d'Hoffmann is special: the maestro conducted it for the first time at the Fenice back in 1994, and then performed it in practically all the major international theaters and festivals, Metropolitan Opera, Wiener Staatsoper, Macerata Opera Festival, New National Theater Tokyo, Deutsche Oper Berlin, New Israeli Opera; and only this year in a new production at the Teatro alla Scala and the Semperoper in Dresden. «Returning to conduct this opera in Fenice is a journey for me – declared the conductor – and I am curious to see what I will be able to do almost thirty years and seven hundred performances after the first time. I'm curious to see how all this has grown...

In recent years I have truly become a specialist in this score – continues Chaslin –, it can be said that I know it thoroughly, that I have a profound knowledge of all the versions. I have studied all sources and personally own a copy of all manuscripts. Having said that, in my opinion the ideal edition of Hoffmann does not yet exist. To achieve it, there is a lot of work to do. The aspect that I particularly want to bring out from my reading is the animal with two heads. The two masks, the tragic mask and the comic one, the crying mask and the laughing one, to return to the beginning of this conversation. But above all the magic, because it is a fantastic opera and perhaps in the entire operatic repertoire it is the most profound of all as regards the magical, fantastic, gothic aspect. A bit like Goethe's Faust. But there is even more mystery here. In Faust at the end there is an apotheosis: God wins, the devil loses. In the Stories it is not so clear, it is not clear who wins. And this is the reality! Happy endings only exist in films"

On stage, the cast consists of Ivan Ayon Rivas in the role of Hoffmann, Paola Gardina like La Muse, Giuseppina Bridelli in the guise of Nicklausse; the three women, Olympia, Antonia and Juliet, will be played respectively by Rocio Pérez, Carmela Remigio is Véronique Gens. Alex Esposito he will take on the roles of the characters Lindorf, Coppélius, Le docteur Miracle and Dapertutto; While Didier Pieri it will be Andrès, Cochenille, Frantz and Pitichinacchio. They complete the cast Christian Collia (Nathanael), Francois Piolino (Spalanzani), Yoann Dubruque (Hermann, Schlémil) e Francesco Milanese (Luther, Crespel). Also on stage are the dancers Kevin Bhoyroo, Anastasia Crastolla, Silvia Gattafoni, Coralie Murgia, Andrea Carlotta Pelaia, Francesco Scalas, Nicola Trazzi and the stilt walker Figaro Su. Choir Master Alfonso Caiani.

(Photo above, the setup in the performance at the Sydney Opera House, credit Keith Saunders; below, Frédéric Chaslin, photocredit Bernard Martinez)
La Fenice di Venezia inaugurates the 2023/24 Season with Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann


Characters and performers
Hoffmann Ivan Ayon Rivas
The Muse Paola Gardina
Nicklausse Giuseppina Bridelli
Lindorf, Coppélius, Le docteur Miracle,
Everywhere Alex Esposito
Andrès, Cochenille,
Frantz, Pitichinaccio Didier Pieri
Olympia Rocio Pérez
Antonia Carmela Remigio
Juliet Veronique Gens
La Voix  Federica Giansanti
Nathanael Christian Collia
Spalanzani Francois Piolino
Hermann/Schlemill Yoann Dubruque
Luther, Crespel Francesco Milanese

Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro La Fenice
director Frédéric Chaslin
choir master Alfonso Caiani

direction Damiano Michieletto
scenes Paolo Fantin
costumes Carla Teti
lights Alessandro Carletti
choreography Chiara Vecchi

in co-production with
Opera Australia, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Opera National de Lyon


Les Contes d'Hoffmann
Fantastic work in a prologue, three acts and an epilogue

booklet by Jules Barbier
from the play of the same name by Barber and of Michel Carré
and from ETA Hoffmann

Music by Jaques Offenbach

first ever performance

Paris, Opéra-Comique, 10 February 1881


24 November 2023 at 6pm 'before'
repeat performances on 26 November and 2 December 2023 at 3.30 pm
on 28 and 30 November 2023 at 6pm

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