In the bicentenary of Jacques Offenbach, Ópera de Bellas Artes presents a new production of Les contes d’Hoffmann

Los cuentos de Hoffmann, Ópera de Bellas Artes © Carlos Alvar

This is the latest title in the 2019 season of the Opera de Bellas Artes. Four functions will be offered of 8 on 17 December with the proposal stage of Benjamín Cann and the musical direction of Jonas Alber, together with an outstanding group of international soloists. 


Ópera de Bellas Artes of Mexico presents Les contes d’Hoffmann, opera in three acts, a prologue and an epilogue, with music by Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880), libretto in French by the writer Jules Barbier (1825-1901), based on a work that Barbier and Michel himself Carré had elaborated on stories by the Prussian writer ETA Hoffmann (1776-1822), on December 8, 10, 15 and 17 in the Main Hall of the Palace of Fine Arts.

This opera premiered in 1881 at the Opéra-Comique de Paris. Offenbach had died the previous year without finishing it, so Ernest Giraud was in charge of concluding the work, whose first presentation was made omitting Giulietta’s act. Since then there has been a variety of versions.


The new production to be presented by Ópera de Bellas Artes corresponds to the critical version edited by Michael Kaye and Jean-Christophe Keck in 2005, considered for the celebration of the bicentennial of the composer’s birth.


With a world-class cast, this new production includes great soloists who will embody the main characters, such as the Mexican tenor Jesús León, who debuts with this production at the Palace of Fine Arts, the Romanian soprano Letitia Vitelaru, the bass-baritone American Philip Horst and Mexican mezzosoprano also Cassandra Zoé Velasco. Also participating are the Mexican Enrique Guzmán, Violeta Dávalos, Rosendo Flores, Víctor Hernández, Rodrigo Urrutia, Álvaro Anzaldo, Juan Carlos López and Carlos Santos.

Los cuentos de Hoffmann, Ópera de Bellas Artes © Carlos Alvar

Los cuentos de Hoffmann, Ópera de Bellas Artes © Carlos Alvar

The stage direction will be in charge of Benjamín Cann, the scenery will be designed by Jorge Ballina, while the lighting corresponds to Víctor Zapatero. The costumes will be created by Mario Marín del Río and makeup by Carla Tinoco. The Fine Arts Choir will be directed by Andrea Faidutti. All of them, together with the Orchestra of the Theater of Fine Arts, will be under the baton of maestro Jonas Alber. 


In the anecdote of Les contes d’Hoffmann three of Hoffmann’s most famous stories can be identified: The man in the arenaThe Cremona violin and The lost reflection.


The young poet Hoffmann, accompanied by his friend Nicklausse, is in a tavern next to the theater whereis represented Don Giovanni de Mozart. During the intermission of the opera, some guests arrive at the bar who, seeing the poet, encourage him to sing and tell them the story of his famous love affairs. Hoffmann finally gives in and shares with them the stories of Olympia, Antonia and Giulietta. Those, absorbed in the poet’s stories, remain in the tavern, forgetting the opera performance.


About the musical director Jonas Alber

Jonas Alber he served as musical general director of the Staatstheater Braunschweig from 1998 to 2007. His name is particularly associated with late 19th-century works, although his repertoire ranges from baroque to contemporary music. He has conducted more than 40 orchestras in four continents and has performed at major opera houses around the world, including the Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Royal Theater of La Monnaie in Brussels, the Semperoper Dresden, the Colon Theater in Buenos Aires, the Royal Theater in Madrid, the Volksoper from Vienna, the South African State Theater in Pretoria, the Hamburg State Opera and the Normandy-Rouen Opera House.

As an opera musical director he has worked on more than 500 performances of more than 50 operas. His repertoire includes both great classics and world premieres of contemporary operas; They include The Magic Flute, Così fan Tutte and The Abduction from the Seraglio by Mozart; the tetralogy nibelungo ring Wagner’s; The Knight of the Rose by R. Strauss, The Tales of Hoffmann of Offenbach; Reigen (The Round)Wintermärchen (Winter’s Tale) and Julie de Philippe Boesmans; The clemency of Tito de Mozart with a new text by Manfred Trojahn, Frühling Erwachen (Spring Awakening) by Benoit Mernier, Notre Dame de Franz Schmidt, Winnie de Bongani Ndodana-Breen, mainly.

It is worth noting his recent debut at the Daegu Opera in South Korea with The Bat J. Strauss, a new production of Don Giovanni at the Regensburg Theater, and his debut in June 2019 with the Danish National Opera,production Michael’s Koolhaas by Paul von Klenau.


About the stage director, Benjamin Cann

Benjamín Cann is the author of several plays and scripts for television and film. He has directed television programs and series, soap operas, feature films, theater, more than he deserved, and opera, less than he would have liked. In this last category, he has directed titles such as Madama Butterfly, the Mozart-Da Ponte trilogy, Wozzeck, among others. Stresses in his career the film Crónica de un breakfast; deserving of several awards, such as the Caligari award, at the Berlin Festival, and the Mayahuel, at the Guadalajara Festival. His most recent staging, both with scripts of his own, are BaratariaState of Mexico, and Instructions to go to heaven, for the National Theater Company.



About tenor Jesús León

The tenor Jesús León studied singing at the University of California, Los Angeles and, later, at the Georg Solti Accademia and the Boston Opera Institute. He was a member of the Sunday-Thornton Young Artists Program at the Los Angeles Opera. In Italy he worked under the guidance of Mirella Freni, who awarded him the Nicolai Ghiaurov Scholarship. His professional debut took place in Hermosillo, in 2004, as Nemorino in Elixir of Love Donizetti’s. Since then he has performed numerous protagonists in important theaters and festivals in the United States and Europe, in operas such as: Don Pasquale, Lucia di Lammermoor and Maria di Rohan de Donizetti; The Puritans and The Sleepwalker of Bellini; Rigoletto, La traviata, Falstaff and Nabucco de Verdi; Tosca and Madama Butterfly of Puccini; The barber of Seville of Rossini, Don Giovanni de Mozart, The pearl fishermen of Bizet and Romeo and Julieta de Gounod, among others.

He has performed at the festivals of Glyndebourne and Garsington, Theater du Chatelet in Paris, Opera de Nice, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Staatstheater Stuttgart, Landestheater Bregenz, Teatro Massimo Bellini in Catania, Theater of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Teatro Regio in Parma, Philharmonic Theater in Verona, Royal Opera House Muscat, Korea National Opera in Seoul, Florida Grand Opera, Bicentennial Theater in León and Sala Nezahualcóyotl in Mexico City. His successful performances at the Royal Albert Hall in London, accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra have allowed him to establish himself as a much-requested concert player in Europe, North America and Asia.


About soprano Letitia Vitelaru

Originally from Romania, the soprano Letitia Vitelaru studied singing and violin at the Dinu Lipatti Lyceum of Music in Bucharest, and then at the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory in Milan. She won the Accademia Teatro alla Scala Contest in 2011, where she studied under the tutelage of outstanding teachers such as Mirella Freni, Luciana Serra, Renato Bruson, Luis Alva, Vincenzo Scalera and James Vaughan. Her repertoire includes protagonists in Lucia di Lammermoor, Ana Bolena, The Elixir of Love and Don Pasquale de Donizetti; silk staircase Rossini’s, pirate Bellini’s, La bohème de Puccini, Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni de Mozart and La traviata de Verdi, among others.

She has performed on important stages: Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Massimo Bellini Theater, Carlo Felice Theater in Genoa, Spira Cultural Center in Sweden, Opera Dorset in England, the Treviso Theater, Allee Theater in Hamburg, Petruzzelli de Bari Theater, Theater Mario del Monaco in Treviso, Aurora Theater in Malta, Lyric Theater of Cagliari, Verona Philharmonic Theater, Belli Theater of Spoleto in Perugia.

Her experience in orchestral concerts includes Expo Shanghai 2010, Lyric Concert at the Hermitage Theater in St. Petersburg, Lyric Concert at the Musaion Hall University in Pretoria, Johannesburg; 50-year-old tribute concert to maestro Renato Bruson, in Spoleto; Anniversary Concert Tribute to Magda Olivero at the San Babila Theater and Verdi Lyric Concert, in Busseto. She also sang an Aryan concert of Puccini in Athens for The Basil and Marina Theocharakis Foundation. She has been awarded several times; She received the 2017 Belluci Prize at the Toti dal Monte International Competition, the Assami and European Community Concorso Competition for young lyric singers, in 2010.