This year’s fall opera production from the Glenn Gould School is John Blow’s 1683(?) masque Venus and Adonis. For those not familiar with the genre the masque was a court entertainment combining music, dance, poetry and drama. Here the framing story is the brief love affair between Venus and handsome young Adonis who is unfortunately gored to death by a boar. The main sub plot concerns Venus giving sage advice to Cupid and his band of little cupids. In between there are hunting choruses, dance and extracts from Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
One of the interesting things about Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann is that there is no definitive edition so creative teams have a lot of flexibility in how they cut and combine material. Director Tobias Kratzer and conductor Carlo Rizzi created a really interesting take for their production at Dutch National Opera in 2018. It’s a very modern, very dark interpretation that while it keeps Offenbach’s music (though not interpolations like Scintille diamante) and the words are all from (some version of) the libretto the storyline varies a lot from what we are used to while keeping intact the central psychological fact that Hoffmann is incapable of relating to real women.