In a tavern in Nuremberg, a Muse reveals her purpose to seduce Hoffmann, a young and romantic character, who accepts to entertain his friend by telling the story of the three great loves of his life. Hoffman's first love was Olympia, which turned out to be eventually a mechanical doll created by the scientist Spalanzi. Hoffmann's second love was Antonia, a young and sensitive women gifted with the most beautiful voice. Unfortunately a mysterious illness threatened to kill her if she started singing. Under the harmful influence of Dr Miracle, she yielded to temptation and died. Overwhelmed with grief, Hoffmann swore not to fall in love ever again. But Giulietta, a Venetian courtesan, succeeded in courting the young man and filches Hoffman's reflection from a magic mirror, before leaving in the arms of another lover, Pittichinaccio. The Muse, who took the appearance of Hoffmann's closest friend, Nikolausse, reveals then her true identity...
Though Offenbach made his Parisian success thanks to his comical works, like La Grande-duchesse de Gerolstein or Orphée aux Enfers, The Tales of Hoffman is a fantastic opera based on three novels written by E. T. A. Hoffmann at the beginning of the 19th century: Der Sandmann ("The Sandman"), Rath Krespel ("Councillor Krespel") and Das verlorene Spiegelbild ("The Lost Reflection"). The Tales of Hoffmann, here in the fairy production of Giancarlo del Monaco, illustrates the Romantic quest of an idealized Love that should be transcended in the research of an artistic absolute, in the poetic contemplation of beauty.
Photo: E. Moreno Esquibel
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