Les Contes d'Hoffmann

Jacques Offenbach

Fantastic opera with prologue and epilogue
Libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carre based on the novels by Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann
Edition by Fritz Oeser

Stage Director – Dmitry Bertman
Musical Director – Kirill Tikhonov
Set and Costume Designers – Igor Nezhny and Tatiana Tulubieva

Playing time – 2 hours (one intermission)
Premiere – July 4,1998
Language of performance – French, Russian subtitles


The fantastic visions and nightmares of the great artist, helplessly lonesome man, suffering from the lack of love, blindly looking for sympathy there, where it never passed, entertain the visitors of the pub and horrify the spectators. The contrast of wonderful music and defiant chill of reality, such is the enchanting world of magic “Les Contes d’Hoffmann”. “Our performance is about the sources of creativity and the destiny of an artist, says Dmitry Bertman, because the only true friend of an artist is his Muse”.CHOIR AND ORCHESTRA OF "HELIKON-OPERA"

SYNOPSIS

Prologue
In the Luther’s tavern the drunken Hoffmann is surrounded by the spirits of wine and beer. There appears the Muse under the guise of Niklausse. Since the moment the Muse would become inseparable from the poet.
The counsellor Lindorf, longing for Stella’s sympathy, intercepts her love letter addressed to Hoffmann. Lindorf is furious, he decides to mess up their plans by all means.
Singing loudly, a group of students burst into tavern. Hoffmann joins them. They urge him to perform a legend of Kleizach, but to everybody’s surprise Hoffmann has got absorbed in his thoughts of his beloved one, who unites in herself the feautures of three women, once loved by him. The students demand the details, and Hoffmann starts his story.

Act I
At the dinner party in professor Spalanzani’s home Hoffmann falls in love with his mincing daughter Olympia, without noticing that she is just a Lifeless doll, able to sing and dance. Hoffmann has put the magic spectacles on and becomes ecstatic about Olympia’s beauty. The guests gather in the hall, and Spalanzani brings out his doll, which performs a fantastically difficult aria and gets the storm of applause. When Hoffmann and Olympia stay in private, he confesses his love to her.
The poet asks Olympia for a waltz, but the doll’s mechanism works faster and faster. Failing to keep this crazy tempo on, Hoffmann falls down breathless. His spectatcles break into pieces. The guests mock at unlucky lover.

Act II
The main concern of theold counselor Crespel is his daughter Antonia, who inherited after her mother both a beautiful voice and the illness, for which singing is dreadfully dangerous. Hoffmann manages to get into Antonia’s home, when Crespel leaves. Almost at a time appears Dr. Miracle, whi has treated Crespel’s wife to death. Hoffmann sees from a hiding place, that the strange doctor has hypnotised Antonia. Miracle appeals to Antonia’s mother spirit, which makes the girl sing. Antonia fails to resist this appeal, she sings and dies.

Act III
Venice. Hoffmann is in love with a Venetian Courtesan Giulietta. She is used by Dappertutto in his own purposes: the one who wants to get the courtesan, must give his soul to the Doctor. Dappertutto urges Giuliettato steal Hoffmann’s reflection, just as she already has stolen Schlemil’s shadow; therefore she would be given a magic diamond. Nicklausse warns Hoffmann, but Guilietta manages to let the poet know where the key of her room is. In the fight Hoffmann kills the rival with Dappertutto’s magic sword and rushes into Guilietta’s room, but only to find it empty. Laughing, the courtesan gives the poet into the power of Dr. Dappertutto.

Epilogue
Hoffmann is finishing his latest story and returns back to his thoughts of Stella. But this is not she who would become his ideal beloved one. The poet’s true love is his Muse only, Lindorf stays with Stella.
 

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