Les Contes d'Hoffmann


Les Contes D'Hoffmann
J. Offenbach
Libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carre based on the novels by Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann
Duration – 2 hours 30 minutes (with intermission)

Stage Director: Dmitry Bertman
Musical Director: Kirill Tikhonov
Conductor: Evgeny Brazhnik
Set and Costume Designers: Igor Nezhny and Tatiana Tulubieva
Light Designer: Denis Eniukov
Choirmaster: Evgeny Ilyin
Choreographer: Alexander Tagiltsev

Premiere – July 4,1998
Language of performance – French, Russian subtitles

"You can hardly find a human heart which would not be a battlefield between good and evil!"  «The Devil’s Elixirs» by E.T.A. Hoffmann

When we speak about Offenbach we usually mean an opera buffa or an operetta. But this great French composer also created one great opera. The only opera by Jacques Offenbach "Les Contes D'Hoffmann" had an uneasy destiny. The author did not live to see the day when his latest work was presented to the public and had a huge success... Then a terrible fire broke out in Vienna and burnt the theatre down during the second run of the play. It gave the opera a bad name, but it has still been reviving like a phoenix: after World War II some materials written by Offenbach for the opera were found. This is the way the new fragments of the score are still appearing…

The opera is not easy to perform but it got the artistes’ love. The whole opera was immediately taken to songs.

The libretto of "Les Contes D'Hoffmann" is based on three short stories by Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann, who was a composer, lawyer, writer and poet.

Fantastic visions and nightmares of a brilliant artist who suffers without love, blindly looking for sympathy where there is no place for it and who is not being able to notice the Muse, amuse and horrify the audience at the same time. People and dolls, love and mysticism. "Les Contes D'Hoffmann" has assembled all the feelings of any Creator…

The whole mysterious world of the author is step by step revealed in the beautiful music of Offenbach.

The production has been awarded the national prize "The Golden Mask" in the nomination "Best Director". "Les Contes D'Hoffmann" was highly appreciated by thousands of delighted spectators in France, Thailand, Estonia, Spain, Israel.

Mysterious Muse-Nicklausse, ironic Coppelius, a series of poet’s beloved ones: Olympia, Antonia, Giulietta, Stella… Hoffmann’s mind was all messed up with ugly shadows, emotionless dolls and mocking city inhabitants. The grand finale brings the Creator and the Muse together for ever...

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.

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.

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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