My ticket to see “Les Contes d’Hoffmann” at Stony Brook University’s Staller Center. Photo by Abigail Wolfenberger (Feb 1, 2015)
By Abigail Wolfenberger
The premise of the French opera Les Contes d’Hoffmann explores being torn between passion and love. The protagonist, Hoffmann, drunkenly spills tales of his past lovers to his fellow drunkards while attempting to decide between choosing his current love or his muse.
These tales filled with adventure, humor, pain and love left the audience applauding and on their feet by the final curtain call. Les Contes d’Hoffmann was originally created in the 1800’s, but director Bartlett Sher sets his production of this opera in 1920’s Europe. A wide variety of beautifully-crafted costumes and set designs color the stage, but the greatest variety can be found in the actors’ note ranges. Their voices are enchanting and soar to impeccable heights. However, these vocals could not have as easily “wowed” the audience without the musical stylings of Met Music Director, James Levine. The orchestra did a marvelous job of setting the tone, which is extremely important for a mostly English-speaking audience watching a French opera. With such amazing talent in each act, how can one pick a favorite?
“I guess my favorite part is the scene with Antonia because she has a great voice and I just really enjoyed it,” said Abby Sun, a music major.
“It’s extraordinarily good. The animation is probably my favorite part,” said Walter Simendinger, a Long Island resident who attended the show. “I love how they can speak through the expressions on their faces and the music.”
This story of a poet tortured by his chaotic love life is showcased by the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Nothing beats a night on the town with your gal or your best friend, so why not take the train into the city and indulge in the opera’s elegance?
Maybe what’s holding you back is dishing out $25.50 for an off peak train ticket and an additional $30 for “partial view” balcony seats. If the problem isn’t money, then perhaps it’s the fact that going outside could possibly mean falling victim to frostbite, so strolling the streets of New York City is entirely out of the question.
For a much friendlier cost, the Staller Center brings a live viewing of some of the Met’s greatest operas to the Stony Brook University campus. The showing of Les Contes d’Hoffmann took place on Saturday with ticket sales at just $15 for SBU students and $20 for the general public.
“It’s wonderful to be exposed to this without having to take the long trip to the city,” said Simendinger.
“Les Contes d’Hoffmann” is Simendinger’s third opera here at the university, and he is planning on attending many more. If you’re looking for a pleasant weekend activity, consider attending one of the Met Live in HD performances at the Staller Center.