Arts and Entertainment

‘The Tales of Hoffmann’ preview is Saturday at the Bainbridge Public Library

Kate Lindsey as Rosina in Seattle Opera’s 2011 production of
Kate Lindsey as Rosina in Seattle Opera’s 2011 production of 'The Barber of Seville.' Lindsey will sing the Muse and Nicklausse in Seattle Opera’s 2014 production of 'The Tales of Hoffmann.'
— image credit: Rozarii Lynch photo | Courtesy of the Seattle Opera

Get a free preview of the Seattle Opera’s premiere of “The Tales of Hoffmann” at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 26 at the Bainbridge Public Library.

Three fabulous shows in one, Jacques Offenbach’s sumptuous collage of whimsy, creativity, heartbreak, and artistic salvation enchants and delights with luminous music and compelling theater. The preview will be presented by opera aficionado Norm Hollingshead and is funded by the Bainbridge Island Friends of the Library.

Seattle Opera puts the wraps on its 50th anniversary season, as well as the 31-year tenure of general director Speight Jenkins, with "The Tales of Hoffmann" ("Les contes d’Hoffmann").

An all-star cast sings Offenbach’s tuneful score, chronicling famous writer E.T.A. Hoffmann’s misadventures in love. The wild stories of Hoffmann’s failed romances come alive with fantastical elements: a beautiful robot, an evil optician, a stolen shadow, death by music and a mysterious boy/girl muse.

"The Tales of Hoffmann" was first produced jointly by Dallas, Cincinnati, Minnesota, and Arizona operas in 2005. A timeless, stylish and imaginative production, it returns to Seattle Opera on Saturday, May 3 and runs through Saturday, May 17.

“It is a thrill to bring back our production of The Tales of Hoffmann,” Jenkins said. “It was funny, moving, and magical in 2005, and I expect this revival to be even better.”

Stalwart American tenor William Burden stars in the title role. In 2011, the Seattle Times applauded Burden for his “dashing and impassioned” performance as Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor, writing that he made his character’s passion and despair “compellingly real.”

Seattle audiences have enjoyed Burden’s sensitive work in French operas including "Orphée et Eurydice" (Orphée), "Les pêcheurs de perles" (Nadir) and "Iphigénie en Tauride" (Pylade).

Celebrated mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey, who has triumphed as The Muse/Nicklausse at The Metropolitan Opera and Santa Fe Opera, returns to Seattle as Hoffmann’s companion.

Lindsey wonSeattle Opera’s Artist of the Year award for her debut performance creating the title role in the 2010 world premiere of "Amelia"; The New York Times described her performance as “subtly charismatic,” “vocally warm” and “lovely.”

Two celebrated French artists return to McCaw Hall for the multiple leading roles in "The Tales of Hoffmann."

Norah Amsellem brings her riveting and dynamic presence to the stage in the roles of Hoffmann’s four beloveds.

Reviewing her performance as Elvira in "I puritani," the Seattle Times wrote: “Amsellem found her way forward, mustering a lovely voice of considerable agility with a lot of security and accuracy above the staff.… The mad scene would tax any soprano, but Amsellem dealt well with both the vocal and dramatic challenges.”

Bass baritone Nicolas Cavallier, who critics praised following performances of Mozart’s "Le nozze di Figaro" and Massenet’s "Don Quichotte," returns as Hoffmann’s shape-shifting nemeses.

The alternate cast stars Russell Thomas (Foresto in 2012’s "Attila") as Hoffmann and Alfred Walker (Orest in 2008’s "Elektra") as Hoffmann’s enemies. Leah Partridge makes her Seattle Opera debut as the beloveds. All performances of "The Tales of Hoffmann" feature Lindsey as The Muse/Nicklausse, Keith Jameson as The Henchmen, Steven Cole as Spalanzani, Arthur Woodley as Crespel, and Tichina Vaughn as Antonia’s Mother.

Yves Abel is at the podium for this French masterpiece, and stage director Chris Alexander returns with this celebrated and much-traveled production, which earned him one of his three Artist of the Year awards from Seattle Opera.

Costumes by Marie-Therese Cramer bring this colorful and whimsical tale to life with sets by Robert Dahlstrom and lighting by Robert Wierzel.

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