LES CONTES D’HOFFMANN
(The Tales of Hoffmann)
MUSIC BY JACQUES OFFENBACH
LIBRETTO BY JULES BARBIER
LESLIE DALA, CONDUCTOR
NANCY HERMISTON, DIRECTOR
MEMBERS OF THE VANCOUVER OPERA ORCHESTRA
Offenbach’s crowning achievement Les Contes d’Hoffmann was completed and premiered posthumously following the composer’s death in 1881, but the vibrant opera fantastique brings life to the audience and composer alike with its mythical plot and dazzling music. The opera draws from three stories by the eponymous poet E.T.A. Hoffmann, telling a tale of multifaceted love and artistry.
Drinking in a pub with some students one evening, Hoffmann begins to spin his stories: each one about a past love, each love now lost to him forever. The first is Olympia, a woman who he believes is beyond beauty. However, she is nothing more than a mechanical creation, whose inventors are at odds with one another. Second, the graceful Giulietta romances Hoffmann at the behest of her superior, for nothing more than personal gain; in the end she earns her ultimate reward. Finally, the singer Antonia, trapped in misery by a dangerous and stifling disease, wishes to sing once more. A mysterious “Miracle” worker obliges, manipulating her protectors and convincing her to sing one final, fatal performance, before Hoffmann can be with her.
Incredibly beautiful music (including the famous Barcarolle) combined with flamboyant theatricality make Offenbach’s extravaganza the perfect way to brighten a cold November day.
Banner artwork: Miles Linklater