During the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the Sydney Opera House, Damiano Michieletto will be directing a new production of Jacques Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann (The Tales of Hoffmann). After staging Cavalleria Rusticanaand Pagliacci in 2017 and Il Viaggio a Reims in 2019, the Italian director will be returning to Sydney with a new show, on stage from Tuesday 11 to Saturday 22 July, at the Joan Sutherland Theatre. The celebrated building, which was inaugurated in 1973 by Queen Elizabeth II, saw the beginning of constructions in 1959 by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, only to be completed fourteen years later by a team of Australian architects led by Peter Hall. Utzon was the designer behind the famous shell and sails shapes covering the Opera House, a milestone in the architecture of the Twentieth century, and UNESCO World Heritage since 2007. 

 «I imagined Les Contes d’Hoffmann as a journey through time – says Michieletto – a look into the different ages of the protagonist: the child, the boy, the already disillusioned young man, all represented by the female protagonists Olympia, Antonia, and Giulietta. Stella will end the story by destroying Hoffmann’s illusions, somehow as if she was the devil herself. He will thus find himself alone, with all the symbols of his fantasy past world, all representing his poetic universe»

The show, which was supposed to open in August 2021 and was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, is coproduced by Opera Australia, the Royal Opera House London, the Opera National de Lyon, and the Teatro La Fenice in Venice, where it will be staged from 24 November 2023 for the opening of the 2023-24 Season.

On the podium of the Opera Australia Orchestra will be conductor Guillaume Tourniaire. Protagonist on stage will be Jessica Pratt, interpreting all four women of the opera: Olympia, Antonia, Giulietta, and Stella. Next to the Australian soprano, on stage are Iván Ayón Rivas playing the role of Hoffmann, Marko Mimica interpreting the four evil characters (Coppelius, Dapertutto, Dr. Miracle, and Lindorf), Agnes Sarkis as Nicklausse and Sian Sharp as Musa, Jennifer Black interpreting Antonia’s mother and Iain Henderson as Spalanzani. To complete the cast are David Parkin, Tomas Dalton, Luke Gabbedy, Adam Player, Richard Anderson, and Anthony Mackey.

Joining Michieletto is his traditional creative team, with set designer Paolo Fantin, costume designer Carla Teti, and light designer Alessandro Carletti. Chiara Vecchi will be joining the team for the choreographies. 

Damiano Michieletto’s upcoming engagements include Rigoletto, on stage from 3 to 10 August at the Terme di Caracalla, within the 2023 Caracalla Festival, the summer season of the Rome Opera.

Carla Monni