Arkadia Opera Zirkus, Cirque d'Hoffmann

Review in Issue 17-2 | Summer 2005

Cirque d’Hoffmann is a banquet for the senses, the mind and the soul. It blends elements of opera and circus with the intimacy of cabaret in a theatrical gem of storytelling, clowning, music and aerial ballet. Writer-director Max Jerschke has brought together a great combination of talents in this vibrant and masterful re-working of Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann. The dramaturgical thrust is that Hoffmann's great-grandson makes his cast, a poor circus family, act out the opera’s stories as part of their repertoire. Our players thus spin tales within a tale. Circus feats and flights of opera are deftly woven in as integral elements of the storytelling.

Cirque d’Hoffmann’s debut at Jacksons Lane was a thoroughly entertaining event. I was so enthralled that it didn’t seem to matter that I wasn’t that clearly following the story or the links between different elements. What for some might have made for a frustrating sense of obscurity or incoherence seemed for me, at the time, to spur a heightened sense of being in another world, in mysterious realms, with blurred and mutable edges. In retrospect, though, I think that a fuller exploration of the themes in each of the stories would have given the production more tangible depth. This could also have helped set each component more clearly in context within the narrative structure. To summarise: evocative visual settings. Great musical soundscapes, ranging from ethereal soprano to thumping locomotion. Stunning performances – variously fascinating, hilarious and poignant. Altogether, a feast for diverse digestion.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Feb 2005

This article in the magazine

Issue 17-2
p. 30