Tales of Hoffmann, The

Composer: Offenbach, Jacques 1819 - 1880

Version: English version by Edmund Tracey (made for English National Opera)

Although Jacques Offenbach wrote almost one hundred stage works in his lifetime, only two of these were operas. The second of these, The Tales of Hoffman, was unfinished at the time of the composer’s death in 1880. Before his death, Offenbach had completed the piano score and orchestrated the prologue and the first act. Since he did not entirely finish the writing, many different versions of this opera subsequently emerged. The version performed at the opera’s premiere – four months after Offenbach’s death -  was that by Ernest Guiraud, who completed Offenbach’s scoring and wrote the recitatives. SYNOPSIS: Nuremburg, Luther’s Tavern, adjoining the Opera House. Prima Donna Stella, currently performing Mozart’s Don Giovanni, sends a letter to the poet Hoffmann, requesting a meeting in her dressing room after the performance. The letter, and the key to the room, are intercepted by the evil Councillor Lindorf. Lindorf intends to replace Hoffmann at the rendezvous. In the tavern students are waiting for Hoffmann. He arrives and entertains them with the legend of Kleinzach the dwarf, before being coaxed by Lindorf into telling the audience about his life’s three great loves. Hoffman tells tales of these past loves; Olympia, a mechanical performing doll; Giulietta, a Venetian courtesan, and Antonia, the consumptive daughter of a famous composer - all of whom break his heart in different ways. At the end of the opera, Hoffmann, drunk, swears he will never love again, and explains that Olympia, Antonia, and Giulietta are actually three facets of the same person - Stella. Stella, who is tired of waiting for Hoffmann to come to her rendezvous, enters the tavern and finds him drunk. The poet tells her to leave, and Stella and Lindorf leave together.

Instrumentation / / timp / perc / cel / stage hp / hp / str

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