The Tales of Hoffmann | Opera de Paris 0+

(Les Contes d’Hoffmann), Jacques Offenbach, Francie 2012, French with English subtitles, 150 min
The Tales of Hoffmann | Opera de Paris

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Music: Jacques Offenbach Conductor: Tomas Netopil Director: Robert Carsen Cast: Stefano Secco, Jane Archibald, Sophie Koch, Ana Maria Martinez

In his famous study on Offenbach, Kracauer summarized and established the legend of The Tales of Hoffmann: far more than just the spiritual testament of the composer, they were a true self-portrait of the man and the artist. Offenbach recognized himself in his hero and, just as the latter never managed to capture any of his lovers, the king of operetta was never able to write the great opera of which he dreamt. Kracauer even evokes a pact with death: “Let me complete my work in peace and I will follow you.” In the event, death did not respect the pact and it came too soon: The Tales of Hoffmann remained unfinished, a “Hoffmannesque” work in itself, both enigmatic and elusive. Appealing as it may be, the legend is incomplete. The last day of his life –October 5th, 1880 –Offenbach was not involved in some grave showdown with death, but darting back and forth across Paris and working as he had done every day for decades. Nevertheless, The Tales of Hoffmann exude a unique perfume, at once bizarre and visionary, sensual and morbid. The gentle yet vigilant muse, the haunted rapture of Hoffmann, the icy coloratura of Olympia, the deathly song of Antonia and the Baudelairian voluptuousness of Giulietta all make The Tales of Hoffmann the absolute masterpiece of its composer – just as he had wished…

 

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