North Texas Daily

First opera group performance of new semester

First opera group performance of new semester

February 23
23:24 2015

Sydney Wilburn / Contributing Writer

The UNT opera and concert orchestra will present Offenbach’s “Les Contes d’Hoffmann,” or “The Tales of Hoffmann,” 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Lyric Theatre inside the Murchison Performing Arts Center.

The opera, written by French poet E.T.A. Hoffman, will be performed in French with English supertitles. It follows several of Hoffmann’s semi-autobiographical, fantastical stories, all ranging from heartbreaking to comical.

“Were they things that really happened to him or are they things that he’s making up? We don’t know that,” tenor William Joyner said. “But it’s the actor’s job to make those moments believable.”

Joyner is a visiting assistant professor in UNT’s College of Music’s vocal studies program and will play the role of Hoffmann in UNT’s production.

A graduate of the Julliard School of Music, Joyner has performed more than 55 different operatic roles around the world, including several variations of “Les Contes d’Hoffman.”

“We work together to create the characters and relationships between the characters,” Joyner said. “The process is the same, whether you’re in a student company at a university or in a professional company.”

Music education senior Sienna Riehle is a member of the opera chorus and said she enjoys the creative freedom this role gives her.

“I get to think up my own character,” Riehle said. “Because we don’t have principal roles, it’s not as much of a scripted performance, so that’s fun.”

The opera opens with Hoffmann in a bar with his friends, telling tales of the women he’s loved: Olympia, Giulietta and Antonia.

“Even though he tells these stories to make himself seem cool, something always goes wrong,” vocal studies senior Benjamin Brown said. “It starts off as a dream or a memory and then it kinda makes a left turn.”

Though “Les Contes d’Hoffman” was originally written and set in the late 1800s, director John de los Santos chose to set this version of the opera in post-World War II France—an idea he got from a scene in the film “Downfall.”

“I had this idea that outlaw squads would take over an abandoned building—in this case, a big ballroom—using mismatched furniture to set up an illegal bar,” de los Santos said. “Hoffman’s three tales are all acted within the bar using different pieces of furniture to create these three very separate worlds.”

UNT students can see the opera for a discounted rate of $5 per ticket Wednesday.

“Les Contes d’Hoffmann” will officially open at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 27 in the Lyric Theatre. Tickets are $15 for students and $25 for non-students. To find more performance dates and times, visit

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