2013-2014 The Tales of Hoffmann
by Jacques Offenbach
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Love The Underdog

It’s amazing how everyone who experiences The Tales of Hoffmann – Offenbach’s epic romantic comedy drama adventure – finds themselves rooting for Hoffmann. He’s a poet, traveler and underdog unlucky in love.

1 Man, 3 Tales

Divided into three compelling stories, the libretto follows Hoffmann on his quest for the perfect girl, but it never quite works out. Offenbach’s masterpieces features sumptuous music, like the famous “Barcarolle,” and fantastical storytelling that will stir your soul.

All Action, All Live

A huge cast of international stars, massive sets and striking costumes make this production one of the largest, most dynamic performances in our history. You’ll find yourself completely immersed in Hoffmann’s world – a journey of flawing in love.

Understand every word with English supertitles projected above the stage!

Running Time: 3 hours 15 minutes including two intermissions

Enhance Your Experience

New this season! All are welcome to attend a short question and answer session with members of the cast following the Sunday matinee performance. Please gather in the front section of the orchestra level for this lively session and a chance to hear directly from the artists involved in the production.
Join us for “Curtain Warmers” one hour before curtain for a 25-minute lecture about the opera you are going to see. A member of our Artistic Staff will offer a talk designed to connect you to the evening’s performance in an exhilarating and informative way. Come early and experience insights that only the experts can give!

About The Opera

Conductor: Christian Knapp*
Director: Jay Lesenger*

Hoffmann: Christopher Bengochea
Four Villains: Mark Delavan
Olympia: Ashley Emerson*
Antonia: Eleni Calenos*
Giulietta: Keri Alkema*
Stella: Bridgette Gan+
Nicklausse/The Muse/Antonia’s Mother: Irene Roberts
Four Servants: Matthew DiBattista*
Nathanëal/Spalanzani: Nicholas Nestorak+
Hermann/Schlémil: Tobias Greenhalgh+
Luther/Crespel:  Peter Tomaszewski+

Palm Beach Opera Orchestra
Palm Beach Opera Chorus

*Palm Beach Opera Debut
+Palm Beach Opera Young Artist 


The Tales of Hoffmann takes a series of separate stories, linked by the presence of the poet himself, with his companion Nicklausse. In the first act, which serves as a prologue, Hoffmann’s muse takes the form of his student friend Nicklausse. In Luther’s tavern in Nuremberg, Hoffmann sees his rival Councillor Lindorf with his beloved Stella, enjoying apparent success. He tells the assembled students the story of Klein Zach and then agrees to tell them more. The second act deals with Hoffmann’s love for the doll Olympia, the invention of Spalanzini, frustrated by Coppélius, who claims part of the profits from Spalanzini’s invention, for his contribution of eyes. He is fobbed off with a worthless cheque and returns to break the doll, leaving Hoffmann to lament his folly, brought about through the magic spectacles that Coppélius had provided. Hoffmann now falls in love with the singer Antonia, daughter of the violin-maker Crespel. Here he is frustrated by Dr Miracle, who induces Antonia to sing, an activity which brings about her death from the lung complaint from which she suffers. In Venice Hoffmann is attracted by the courtesan Giulietta. The magician Dapertutto urges her to seize Hoffmann’s reflection for him. In a duel Hoffmann kills his rival, Giulietta’s former lover Schlemil, only to find his beloved in the arms of her servant Pitichinaccio. In a final act set in Luther’s tavern again, Hoffmann rejects Stella, who leaves with Councillor Lindorf, while his muse returns, urging him to further literary effort.

Offenbach achieved something of his more serious ambition in The Tales of Hoffmann . In performance the bewilderingly large number of characters is reduced by allowing the same singer to take the parts of those who serve to frustrate Hoffmann, Lindorf, Coppélius, Dr Miracle and Dapertutto. The same tenor may take the character parts of the servants Cochenille, Frantz and Pitichinaccio, while in some productions the four soprano rôles, Stella, Olympia, Antonia and Giulietta may be taken by one singer. In instrumental repertoire arrangements of the famous Barcarolle of the fourth act have proliferated, as in its vocal form as Belle nuit, ô nuit d’amour (Fair night, o night of love). Other excerpts heard in operatic recitals include Il était une fois à la cour d’Eisenach (Once upon a time at the court of Eisenach), Hoffmann’s tale of the impish Klein Zach, Olympia’s Les oiseaux dans la charmille (The birds in the garden walk) and Antonia’s Elle a fui, la torterelle (She has flown, the little dove).


One of today’s foremost young conductors, Christian Knapp is known for his dynamic stage presence and energy on the podium. He has led prestigious orchestras around the world and he appears regularly in subscription with the Seattle Symphony, where he served as Associate Conductor from 2004 to 2006. In February 2011 Mr. Knapp made his debut at the Mariinksy Theater in St. Petersburg, conducting Strauss’ Elektra at the invitation of Artistic and General Director Valery Gergiev. Knapp’s success cemented a lasting collaboration as a regular guest conductor at this world-renowned opera company, and a close artistic relationship with Maestro Gergiev.  Since his debut at the Mariinsky, Mr. Knapp has prepared and premiered new productions of Ariadne auf Naxos and Pelléas et Mélisande, conducted Così fan tutte, and made his White Night’s Festival debut in Spring 2011 with Der Fliegende Holländer. During the 2012 White Night’s Festival he stepped in for an ailing Maestro Gergiev on just a few hours’ notice to conduct Les Contes d’Hoffmann.  Future highlights at the Mariinsky include repeat performances of Ariadne auf Naxos and Der Fliegende Holländer as well as productions of Carmen, Aida, Don Carlo, Turandot, Pique Dame and Rigoletto.  In St. Petersburg, he will also assist Maestro Gergiev in performances of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen.  He was recently named Resident Conductor at the Mariinsky Theatre.

With a career spanning more than 25 years and 200 productions, Jay Lesenger’s stagings have been seen on stages across the country and recently Europe as well.  He made his New York City Opera debut with a new staging of Anna Bolena followed by The Magic Flute and Street Scene. Debuts quickly ensued in San Diego, Pittsburgh and Hawaii. Jay is the Artistic/General Director of the Chautauqua Opera and in 2008 became the Director of the Opera Department at Northwestern University. Most recent engagements include Cunning Little Vixen, Cosi fan tutte and Street Scene  at Chautauqua, La Finta Giardiniera at Juilliard and Street Scene at Manhattan School of MusicRecent engagements include Salome and the world premiere of Musgrave’s The Baroness  for New Orleans Opera,  Porgy and Bess and Macbeth for Opera Carolina, Luisa Miller and The Crucible for Opera Boston and numerous productions at Chautauqua.  His critically acclaimed production of Ariadne auf Naxos for the opera companies of Atlanta, Columbus, Virginia, Milwaukee and Chautauqua  was  televised by Wisconsin PBS. In 2000, Jay made his European debut with La Boheme for Opera Nordfjord (Eid, Norway) where he returned for The Marriage of Figaro.  Other engagements include Der Rosenkavalier for Atlanta, Opera Pacific, and Opera Carolina, as well as Krasa’s Brundibar for Opera Pacific  and Madison Opera. Jay graduated from Hofstra University and continued his education in stage direction in the Master’s program at Indiana University.  He is a frequent judge for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and other vocal competitions.

Christopher Bengochea returns to Palm Beach Opera after making his debut as Rodolfo in La Bohème in 2009.   Lauded by Opera News for his “dark-hued voice…conquered every vocal hurdle…his performance was exceptional”, recent engagements include Vasco da Gama in Meyerbeer’s L’Africaine and a Meyerbeer Retrospective concert for Opera Orchestra of New York, the title role of Idomeneo for Opera San Jose, La Bohème with Opera Santa Barbara and Ash Lawn Opera, the title role in Les Contes d’Hoffman for Philadelphia’s Center City Opera, Aïda with Rimrock Opera and I Pagliacci in Boise. This season’s engagements include Carmen with Livermore Valley, Tosca with Santa Barbara, and the Verdi Requiem with the Boise Philharmonic.   He was tenor soloist with the Santa Rosa Symphony in a Verdi concert and was the featured tenor soloist at Zurich’s Tonhalle Verdi Gala staged by Loft Mansouri and conducted by Edoardo Muller. Mr. Bengochea was a resident artist of Opera San Jose where he was heard in The Crucible, Un Ballo in Maschera, La Bohème, Rigoletto, Die Zauberflöte, La Traviata, Madama Butterfly, Lucia di Lammermoor, and the title roles in Werther and Roméo et Juliette.  Other companies with which he has performed include Teatro Felice in Genova, Atlanta Opera,  Opera Canada,  Intermountain Opera, Townsend Opera, and Caramoor Opera.

Mark Delavan Palm Beach Opera Tales of HoffmannMARK DELAVAN – FOUR VILLIANS
A singer of “incisive vocal power and fierce theatrical acuity”, Mark Delavan is sought after throughout the United States and Europe for the most demanding roles in his repertoire.  He regularly appears in the title roles of Der Fliegende Holländer, Falstaff and Rigoletto, and as Iago in Otello, Scarpia in Tosca, Jochanaan in Salome, and Amonasro in Aida.  In the summer of 2011, Mr. Delavan completed his first performances as Wotan/Wanderer in Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen for San Francisco Opera’s new production by Francesca Zambello.  The San Francisco Examiner said, “A great new Wotan has arrived.  Mark Delavan is both majestic and heartbreakingly human.  His acting, diction and warm, broad voice impress throughout…When he stumbles under the weight of his sorrow, when he spits out words of anger, Delavan joins the historic line of Wotans to remember.” Among his operatic credits Mark Delavan counts numerous opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Royal Opera House – Covent Garden, Berliner Staatsoper, Bayerische Staatsoper, Lyric Opera of Chicago, New York City Opera, Santa Fe Opera and Washington National Opera, to name a few. He has performed at such venues as Carnegie Hall and Royal Albert Hall, and his festival credits include the BBC Proms, Edinburgh Festival (UK), Britten Festival (Italy), Spoleto Festival, U.S.A., the Metropolitan Opera’s Concerts in the Park, and the Saito Kinen Festival (Japan), among others.

Ashley Emerson Palm Beach Opera Tales of HoffmannASHLEY EMERSON – OLYMPIA
Ashley Emerson has been described as a “vocal and dramatic delight.”  She is quickly establishing herself as a versatile artist with a wide range of repertoire from bel canto to contemporary. This season, she joins the Metropolitan Opera for Papagena in The Magic Flute, a role she will also perform at Washington National Opera. Ms Emerson will also sing Constance in The Dialogue of the Carmelites at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. Past season highlights include Barbarina in Le Nozze di Figaro (Metropolitan Opera), Elvira in L’Italiana in Algeri  and Violet in The Golden Ticket (Atlanta Opera), the Maid in Powder her Face (Opera Philadelphia), Blondchen in Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Pittsburgh Opera) and  Alice in the American premiere of Alice in Wonderland (Opera Theatre of Saint Louis), Flora in The Turn of the Screw (Los Angeles Opera) , and Marie in The Daughter of the Regiment  (Opera Theatre of Saint Louis).  A graduate of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, Ms. Emerson appears regularly at the MET and made her professional stage debut there in Le nozze di Figaro. She is a former Gerdine Young Artist with the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and won First prize in the Junior Division of the 2006 Palm Beach Opera Competition.

In her young career, Greek soprano Eleni Calenos is capturing critics and audiences’ admiration for the clarity, warmth and beauty of her lyric voice, and her dignified characterizations. Of her role debut as Cio-Cio-San in Madama Butterfly, the Houston Press said, “The phenomenon was the Cio-Cio-San of Greek soprano Eleni Calenos, whose nuanced characterization was a true wonder to hear. She sailed through her dramatic arias as if buoyed by the stirring music.” Of her performance as Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni with the Martina Arroyo Foundation, The New York Times said, “Eleni Calenos sang with a strong, clear soprano and was persuasive as a suffering yet haughty Donna Elvira.” Ms. Calenos is most recently being noted for her striking portrayals as Contessa di Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro, a role which she has most recently taken to Austin Lyric Opera (debut), the Glimmerglass Festival, and Opera in the Heights. Additional engagements this season include the Countess with Tulsa Opera and Opera Idaho.

A voice with an “appealing brew of dark and creamy colors” (New York Times), lirico-spinto soprano Keri Alkema has been praised for her “tonal opulence” (Washington Post) and “incisive musicality”. (New York Times) In the 2013 – 2014 season, Ms. Alkema makes her role debut as Elisabetta di Valois in Verdi’s Don Carlo at Austin Lyric Opera, as well as debuts at Opéra National de Bordeaux as Giovanna Seymour in Anna Bolena and as Giulietta in Les contes d’Hoffmann at Palm Beach Opera. She returns to Teatro Municipal de Santiago for her first performances as Desdemona in Verdi’s Otello and the Canadian Opera Company to cover the role of Amelia in Un ballo in maschera. Future seasons will see her as Mozart, Verdi, Puccini and bel canto heroines at the Canadian Opera Company, Opéra National de Bordeaux, Seattle Opera, Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse, and Teatro Municipal de Santiago. Ms. Alkema sang her first performances of the title role in Anna Bolena at Minnesota Opera, a role she also covered first at the Washington National Opera in the 2012 – 2013 season. She returned to the Canadian Opera Company in a much-acclaimed role debut as Vitellia in Christopher Alden’s production of La clemenza di Tito and also returned to New York City Opera where she was seen as Amaltea, the Pharaoh’s wife, in Rossini’s Mosè in Egitto at New York City Center. In recent seasons, she has made a number of international debuts: Glyndebourne as Mimì in La bohème, Opera North in Leeds as Adalgisa in Christopher Alden’s new production of Norma, and the Canadian Opera Company as Giulietta in Les contes d’Hoffmann. She also debuted with the New York Philharmonic in the finale to Act One of Don Giovanni as Donna Elvira under music director Alan Gilbert. Other notable engagements include her appearances at Teatro de la Maestranza in Seville as Freia in Das Rheingold, Atlanta Opera as Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, and Teatro Municipal de Santiago as Amelia Grimaldi in Simon Boccanegra. Ms. Alkema made her soprano role debut to great critical acclaim as Donna Elvira in Christopher Alden’s production of Don Giovanni at the New York City Opera in which the New York Times praised her “compelling, rich-toned” performance.

Irene Roberts returns to Palm Beach Opera as Nicklausse in Les Contes d’Hoffmann. She made her debut at San Francisco Opera in June, also in Hoffmann, as Giulietta. The mezzo’s 2012-13 season saw her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in Le Nozze di Figaro, as well as performances of Parsifal at the Met and Nozze at Syracuse Opera. Roberts also recently debuted with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a concert presentation of Rigoletto at the Hollywood Bowl conducted by Gustavo Dudamel. Previous seasons have seen her star as the title role in Bizet’s Carmen, Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, Stéphano in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, and Siébel in Lyric Opera Baltimore’s recent new production of Gounod’s Faust, for which Opera News and Baltimore Sun critic Tim Smith praised her “rich, burnished tone and colorful nuances, both musical and dramatic, that helped flesh out the character greatly.” Roberts was a young artist at Palm Beach Opera and also won 2nd prize in the Advanced Division at the 41st Annual Palm Beach Opera Vocal Competition.

Matthew DiBattista has performed on both operatic and concert stages in the United States and Europe, with such conductors as James Conlon, Seiji Ozawa, Keith Lockhart, and Robert Shaw. In 2013-14 he debuts with Tulsa Opera as Eddie Fislinger in Elmer Gantry, returns to Opera Theatre of Saint Louis as Monostatos in Die Zauberflöte, makes his debut with Lyric Opera of Chicago as Third Esquire in Parsifal, and is soloist in Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra. Recent highlights include Steve Hubble in A Streetcar Named Desire (Virginia Opera); Beppe in I Pagliacci and Tinka in Il tabarro (Opera Theatre of St. Louis); David in Die Meistersinger (Boston Symphony Orchestra); Flavio in Norma (BSO at Tanglewood); Valet Tenors in Les Contes d’Hoffmann with Florida Grand Opera; Mouse/Dormouse/Cook/Invisible Man in Chin’s Alice in WonderlandMolqi in The Death of Klinghoffer, and Bégearss in The Ghosts of Versailles (Opera Theatre of St. Louis); and title role in The Good Soldier Schweik (Long Beach Opera).

Thank You To Our Sponsors

Production Co-Sponsors
Mr. and Mrs. Howard and Patricia Lester

Opening Night Dinner Sponsor
Dr. Elizabeth Bowden

Supertitles Sponsor
Palm Beach Opera Guild

Special gratitude to the following Executive Committee members for their commitment:
Mrs. Gladys Benenson
Mr. and Mrs. Sanford and Isanne Fisher
Mr. and Mrs. Marc S. and Cathy Solomon
Mr. and Mrs. Dennis K. and Roseanne Williams

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