Barrie Kosky’s impressive production of Les Contes d’Hoffmann, which opened the 2015-6 season, is returning tonight for one last hurrah during the ongoing Komische Oper Festival.
The fantastical and phantasmagoric aspects of Hoffmann have long exerted a fascination on directors. Given his zany sensibilities, Kosky shows unexpected severity and restraint, opting for a largely monochromatic and simple staging than is largely propelled forward by the music.
The stage is dominated by a diamond-shaped platform that is frequently raised and lowered during the evening. While props are plentiful, especially in the Olympia segment, with a kooky assortment of fake limbs, eyeballs and the like, the stage never seems overstuffed. Olympia is housed inside of oblong dresser whose draws opened to reveal various (real and prosthetic) segments of her body; the Hoffmann of the Giulietta episode sings from inside an upright coffin; and Antonia is attacked with violin bows by a silent chorus of her mother, women who all bear a striking resemblance to Mrs. Bates from Psycho.
Expect energetic and spirited, if not always spot-on, performances from the winning house soprano Nicole Chevalier as the four heroines and the impressive young tenor Alexander Lewis as the youthful Hoffmann (one of three actors portraying the title role).