Oct 01

Les Contes d’Hoffman (The Tales of Hoffman), by Jacques Offenbach, performed by Covent Garden, starring Placido Domingo ?????

Les Contes d’Hoffman is opera at its best, and this is a superlative performance of that opera. Domingo makes a perfect Hoffman. This performance utilized different opera stars for each of the women in Hoffman’s life, as well as a different “evil man” for each act. The story starts and ends in a tavern adjacent to an opera house, and Hoffman is led to tell the story of the lost loves in his life, all of which are based on short stories by ETA Hoffman. The first is Olympia, a young girl that Hoffman falls deeply in love with, only to discover that she is a mechanical doll. The next act, Hoffman falls in love with a courtesan in a harem, only to end up losing his shadow. The third is a young musician, told not to sing by her father, but encouraged to her death by Dr. Miracle. The music in each act of this opera, as well as the prologue and epilogue are unforgettable and often copied by later composers. This is one of the desert island operas that one would wish to watch many times over, and this is a wonderful performance of that wonderful opera.

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