Rockdale Opera Company presents Offenbach’s final work

Georgia Kokkoris as Giulietta in the Rockdale Opera Company's latest production The Tales of Hoffmann. Picture: Kenney Ogilvy
Georgia Kokkoris as Giulietta in the Rockdale Opera Company's latest production The Tales of Hoffmann. Picture: Kenney Ogilvy

Rockdale Opera Company is presenting a new production of Offenbach’s most cherished work, The Tales of Hoffmann.

Not seen on the Rockdale Town Hall stage since 1994, this opera is filled with powerful, dramatic moments accompanied by superb singing from a large cast of principals along with the Rockdale Opera Company chorus.

A firm staple and favourite in the repertoire of opera companies worldwide, The Tales of Hoffmann is Jacques Offenbach’s final work. 

His grand fantasy opera premiered in Paris in February 1881. Offenbach did not live to complete the opera, having died four months before the premiere.

Considered by many opera buffs to be his ‘‘masterpiece’’ The Tales of Hoffmann is based on three short stories by the German author and poet E.T.A. Hoffmann, who is also the opera’s main character. 

Amongst its most familiar music is the celebrated Doll Song and the well-known Barcarolle.

The Tales of Hoffmann director David Brennan has performed as a leading artist for all major Australian opera companies and was a resident principal at Opera Australia from 1988 to 2001. 

‘‘I’ve loved this opera since I was privileged to be cast in it in Adelaide in the 1980s,’’ Brennan said.

‘‘I love its variety – wonderful humour, sheer musical beauty, and terrifying drama.

‘‘The opera is set in four completely different places, with different characters in each act, requiring quite a large cast to evoke the various localities and moods. 

‘‘It’s a piece that places huge vocal demands on the main singers, especially on the performer singing the title role of Hoffmann.

“Luckily, we have the magnificent pipes of opera singer Ben Oxley, who is magnificent in the role and sings with such passion and beauty’’.

The Tales of Hoffman cast (from left) Camilla Wright, Georgia Kokkoris and Michaella Zhang. Picture: Kenney Ogilvy

The Tales of Hoffman cast (from left) Camilla Wright, Georgia Kokkoris and Michaella Zhang. Picture: Kenney Ogilvy

Brennan said the cast features some seasoned professionals and outstanding young singers who he believes to be ‘‘operatic stars of the future’’. 

Arncliffe opera singer Alastair Colgrave plays Daoertutto who has, in Cograve’s words, ‘‘a killer aria’’. 

When asked his favourite part of this production, Cograve said it is ‘‘when I finally get to the end of that aria!’’. 

Colgrave’s love of opera dates back to when he was 8-years-old and his dad accompanied a soprano singing the Ave Maria from Verdi’s Otello.

‘‘It was a very new concept for me to be so rattled and upset by someone singing. The shock resonated for days afterwards,’’ Colgrave said.

Michaella Zhang plays the role of Antonio and, like Alastair, has had a love of opera since she was 8.

She began to imitate the tone and colour that opera singers create when singing.

‘‘I wasn’t sure what they were singing about as most were in a foreign language, however, I did know I wanted to sing like that one day,’’ Zhang said. 

‘‘I’m so thrilled to be singing one of my favourite arias, along with my duet with Hoffmann, which has always been a favourite. I can really feel Antonio’s emotion and vulnerability towards love’’.

Rockdale Opera favourite Georgia Kokkoris plays courtesan Giuletta. 

‘‘I encourage all ages to see this beautiful and accessible work,”  Kokkoris said. “It’s sung in English and has a fantastical, mythical quality with the most beautiful music.’’

Brennan said The Tales of Hoffmann is a wonderful piece full of enchanting and thrilling music that is both funny and terrifying. 

‘‘We promise our audiences a vocal feast!’’

The Tales Of Hoffmann, August 18-26, at the Rockdale Town Hall.