Most recent performance
There are currently no scheduled performances of Les Contes d'Hoffmann. It was last on stage 7 November—3 December 2016 as part of the Autumn 2016/17 season.
The great storyteller Hoffmann is losing himself to drink. His rival in love, Councillor Lindorf, claims that Hoffmann knows nothing of the heart, and so goads Hoffmann into telling the tales of his three great loves – each destroyed by a villain who bears an uncanny resemblance to Lindorf…
Read more… (Contains spoilers)
Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann (The Tales of Hoffmann) is the most enduring ‘serious’ opera from a composer otherwise better known for his sparkling operettas. It’s not hard to see why: Offenbach’s witty and highly melodious music finds the perfect vehicle in the Romantic, richly imaginative world of the storyteller E.T.A. Hoffmann. Offenbach adapted Jules Barbier and Michel Carré’s play, in which Hoffmann is cast as the deeply flawed teller of his own tales. The composer’s death shortly before the opera’s completion has resulted in a number of alternative versions – but this multiplicity has done nothing to dull the irresistible appeal of an opera in which music and story come together in a deeply satisfying whole.
The Royal Opera’s production of Les Contes d’Hoffmann was created in 1980 by the award-winning director John Schlesinger, best known for his work in film (Midnight Cowboy, Sunday Bloody Sunday) and television (Cold Comfort Farm, An Englishman Abroad). Schlesinger’s production sets Hoffman’s tales in the 19th century, drawing on styles from both Hoffmann and Offenbach’s times. William Dudley’s magnificent set designs and Maria Björnson’s sumptuous costumes realize to brilliant effect the extravagant flourishes of Hoffmann’s imaginative world.
News and features
22 May 2017
The opera repertory is littered with controversial, posthumously completed works.
28 November 2016
Sex scenes, scandal and sensational headlines: the ROH Collections team delve into the archives to uncover the buzz around this iconic production, 36 years on from its premiere.
21 November 2016
With gigantic sets and rail-upon-rail of luxurious costumes, John Schlesinger’s sumptuous production is one of the toughest to stage in the repertory.
16 November 2016
How director John Schlesinger's background in film influenced his hyper-detailed production of Offenbach's opera.
15 November 2016
John Schlesinger's classic Royal Opera production was relayed live to cinemas around the world.
15 November 2016
Norwegian soprano to replace Sonya Yoncheva in the role of Antonia.