Tales of Hoffmann is an opera unlike any that Nashville audiences have seen before, and Nashville Opera Artistic Director John Hoomes knows that it is a piece audiences need to experience. Fantasy, strange characters, top artists and an imaginative art-deco set come together to bring this grand opera to the city April 4 at 7 p.m. and April 6 at 8 p.m.
“This has always been a piece that I’ve wanted to do, and I’ve never done it before,” says John, who has directed over 150 music theatre and opera productions across the continent. “I think it’s a piece that needs to be done.”
Tales of Hoffmann tells the stories of poet E.T.A. Hoffmann through his journey with the creative process and the three women that have served as the loves of his life. Opera-goers experience his three heartbreaks and how they have kept him away from his identity as a creative artist.
“This piece is about Hoffmann’s life. If it were Hollywood, I’d call it a fantasy biopic.”
Told in five acts, the line is blurred between reality and dreams. The prologue and epilogue present reality as Hoffmann and his friends gather in a bar room to talk about love lost, while the three middle acts tell the tales of Hoffmann’s loves and broken heart.
“It’s almost like doing four operas at the same time,” says John, who compares the three middle acts to television episodes like The Twilight Zone and Black Mirror.
“It has a lot of fantasy elements, which, in his day, were considered very edgy and avant-garde,” says John. “Like you have one man in the first story whose job is as an eyeball salesman. He sings a whole song about all the different eyes and the different glasses he sells and how you can see in the future, how you can see into a woman’s heart with the glasses, or how he has replacement eyes if you don’t like yours. It’s very strange.”
Bringing these strange and fantastical moments to life are both new and old faces to the opera. Alongside the Nashville cast, Noah Stewart, Inna Dukach, Zachary James and John Easterlin have traveled to Music City to play the principal roles. With backgrounds in performances all over the world, high-level and incredible artistry is guaranteed.
Whether seasoned opera attendees or newcomers, the Nashville Opera is committed to creating a personal, theatrical experience. One way this is accomplished is through including English titles above the stage that translate the opera, sung in French, to ensure audience’s understanding of the piece.
“I translate them and write them. Sometimes I give them what I call a ‘Hollywood punch-up,’ so sometimes there are more contemporary references of the phraseology is in a way that is easier to read and understand,” says John.
For John, creating this personal experience allows the audiences to walk away with that common, emotional experience that opera is all about.
“I hope they take away the emotional experience, because that’s really what we’re about – the emotion of how the drama and the music work together, the unifying experience that everybody, no matter who they are, they have the same emotions,” says John. ‘When an opera really works, where the cast is on, the music is working, the drama is working and the audience is there, there is nothing else like it.”
For tickets to Tales of Hoffman, visit TPAC.org or call our box office 615-782-4040.