Opera Australia has announced that Damiano Michieletto’s new production of The Tales of Hoffmann, due to open on 2 August, is to be postponed to a future season due to the NSW Government’s extended stay-at-home orders in Sydney.

Italian director Damiano Michieletto, whose twin productions of Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci proved a big hit for Opera Australia in 2017, was set to return to Sydney for the new staging of Offenbach’s operatic masterpiece, with French tenor Jean-François Borras in the title role and Australian soprano Jessica Pratt as the poet’s four love interests. The co-production with the Royal Opera House was originally scheduled to have its world premiere in London, but COVID restrictions meant that Sydney was set to stage the highly anticipated production first. Sadly that is not to be.

OA Tales of Hoffmann

Jessica Pratt was scheduled to play Hoffmann’s four love interests in Damiano Michieletto’s new production of The Tales of Hoffmann. Image courtesy of Opera Australia

Artistic Director Lyndon Terracini told staff this morning: “This is particularly disappointing for us all as Hoffmann represented the first co-production that was being built and performed here, and then going to major theatres all over the world. However, we’re looking at a new schedule for Hoffmann to take place in the future so that all the wonderful work that has already been undertaken won’t be in vain.”

An OA spokesperson said: “The first co-production with The Royal Opera House to be fully constructed and premiered in Sydney was the Winter Season’s most highly anticipated opening but with the current lockdown, rehearsals have been cancelled and work cannot continue in the manufacturing and wardrobe departments, meaning the sets and costumes will not be ready in time for the scheduled opening on 2 August.”

“OA is working to reschedule Aida, Attila and Otello into the remainder of the Sydney Winter Season and will make an announcement in due course. Ticket holders will be contacted by their place of purchase.”

It is yet another blow for OA, which had to close its 2021 Sydney Winter Season after just one performance of Aida when the Sydney lockdown was first introduced. Last week, dozens of OA performers, musicians, technicians and creative staff, who were rehearsing Otello, had to go into self-isolation after a construction worker involved with the refurbishment of the Sydney Opera House tested positive to COVID-19.

The decimation of OA’s 2021 Sydney Winter Season as a result of the ongoing COVID lockdown in Sydney follows news in June that the company posted a $7.1 million trading deficit for 2020.

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