March 18 2013 12:00 AM

A poet's romances form the core of 'Tales of Hoffman' at MSU Opera Theatre

Wednesday, March 28 — Jacques Offenbach’s “The Tales of Hoffman” (“Les contes d'Hoffmann”) chronicles the adventures of real-life poet E. T. A. Hoffman, showcasing the three major tragic loves of his life and how they affected him. The trilogy of stories unfold this weekend in Michigan State University’s Auditorium; the MSU Opera Theatre production will be sung in French with English surtitles, projected above the stage on a screen. 

Each of Hoffman’s romantic conquests is different. His first love is a mechanical doll, the second is a doomed opera singer and the third is an evil courtesan with a hidden agenda.  

“It’s French grand opera, very typical of the 19th century, which was when it was written,” said MSU director Melanie Helton. “As a poet, he’s very connected to emotions. Oftentimes, he makes bad decisions because he is so emotionally driven that way.”

Throughout Hoffman’s story, various characters provide contrasting elements to the show, including the comedic deaf butler, the poetic Muse and several evil characters.

“The Muse accompanies him on his adventures, and never makes a decision for him but tries to open his eyes to what’s really going on,” Helton said. “His journey through these three loves is about finding out what’s really important and how it can affect his own poetry so that he can truly write again. 

“It’s about a human’s journey to find his true self so that he can write about it. So in that sense, it’s a story of anyone who feels the need to express themselves artistically — we are the sum of our experiences as artists.”

‘The Tales of Hoffmann’
Michigan State University Opera Theatre

8 p.m. Friday, March 30, and Saturday, March 31; 3 p.m. Sunday, April 1

MSU Concert Auditorium

$20 adults, $18 seniors, $10 for students and those under 18

(800) WHARTON, or