The 2021 recording of Offenbach’s Les contes d’Hoffmann from the Staatsoper Hamburg is fairly straightforward but it’s visually interesting and musically excellent. I don’t think Daniele Finzi Pascas’ production has a “concept” as such. It’s still about three imaginary women who make up Hoffmann’s dream woman and he still ultimately rejects even her in favour of Art. Each of the five acts is given as different and distinctive look and feel though the use of mirrors and aerial doubles is a recurrent theme. It’s worth noting up front that Olga Peretyatko sings all four ladies.
The summer music scene, or its virtual absence, puzzles me. At this time of year I look at my diary and it’s packed until late May and then woomph!; next to nothing until late September or early October. There will be a few odd things like the Toronto Summer Music Festival and, if we are lucky, a couple of things at Hipsterfest Luminato. But, for the most part, the city will be classical music free. The expensive fixed capital of the Culture Biz will lie idle. It puzzles me. It seems just a reflection of a world that has ceased to be and thus an opportunity.
So why do the Artz abandon the city in the summer?
Is it because we need the kids to work on the farm?
Is it because we’ve sent the wife and kids up to the cottage for the summer?
Do we fear a cholera outbreak?
Is the prospect of sitting in a hot and stuffy theatre without air conditioning unappealing?
This being North America most people don’t get a lot of vacation so most working stiffs are stuck in the city for most of the summer. And there’s not much on. And please don’t tell me that all I need to do is drive three hours to some mosquito infested swamp where I can watch students on summer break pay to perform. I’m puzzled. Really.