From 26th January to 1st February, I will be ending the journey I started in 2017 at the Lietuvos Nacionalinis Operos ir Baleto Teatras in Vilnius with Les Contes d'Hoffmann, one of the most fascinating, enigmatic works in the whole repertoire, and I believe that it is one of the most complex and difficult to conduct and above all to prepare. It is an opera that calls for in-depth study of its sources, considerable theatrical sensitivity, the ability to be flexible towards the different vocal styles which alternate repeatedly and constantly during the musical narrative: lightweight, lyric and dramatic. The orchestra score calls for virtuoso skills, both technically and overall, as do the many solo pieces scattered throughout. Its great length, together with the constantly-changing stylistic variety create challenges in terms of sound quality when it comes to the physical endurance of the musicians and the conductor himself.
Together with the Lithuanian chorus and orchestra, I will breathe life into these Contes. My personal approach to this score will be to emphasise and maximise the gap between the tragic and the more light-hearted episodes. More in general, the true challenge will be to succeed in bringing out and harmonising all its great contrasts: from the gothic to the macabre, the erotic to the amorous, the comic to the grotesque. The leading characters will be accompanied by the chorus and orchestra of the Lietuvos Nacionalinis Operos ir Baletos Teatras with whom, over these five years, I have sought to create a sound in which I find myself reflected as a musician: a more fluid, softer, warmer sound with a broader expressive palette.
The goal I had set myself as artistic director was to open up the LNOBT to a more active dialogue on the international scene, at the same time aiming to showcase existing Lithuanian talent and also discover new artists. Well, today we will see an opera on stage which is the result of this journey: the project of a winning production in an international competition, selected by a prestigious panel of judges and by the audience, will come to life with a top-level cast made up of Lithuanian (permanent and guest) and foreign artists, who perform in the most important theatres worldwide.
© Martynas Aleksa