Live Cinema Season

Les Contes d'Hoffmann (2016)

Recorded | Opera

Running time: About 3 hours 30 minutes, including two intervals

Les Contes d'Hoffmann (2016)

Vittorio Grigòlo in the title role leads an excellent cast including Thomas Hampson, Sonya Yoncheva, Christine Rice and Sofia Fomina in Offenbach’s fantastical operatic drama.

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The story

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…

First Hoffmann tells of his infatuation for the mechanical doll, Olympia – who is destroyed by the inventor Coppélius. Next comes the courtesan Giulietta, who throws over his adoration in favour of jewels from the magician Dappertutto. Finally, the gentle Antonia is forced to sing to her death by the wicked Doctor Miracle. His stories finished, Hoffmann rouses from his drunken stupor to find Lindorf has made off with Stella, Hoffmann’s latest love – but the Muse compels him to transform his heartache into art.

Background

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.

Credits

Music
Jacques Offenbach
Libretto
Jules Barbier and Michel Carré
Director
John Schlesinger
Set designer
William Dudley
Costume designer
Maria Björnson
Lighting designer
David Hersey
Choreographer
Eleanor Fazan
Fight director
William Hobbs
Performed by
The Royal Opera

Performers

Conductor
Evelino Pidò
Hoffmann
Vittorio Grigòlo
Four Villains
Thomas Hampson
Olympia
Sofia Fomina
Giulietta
Christine Rice
Antonia
Sonya Yoncheva
Nicklausse
Kate Lindsey
Spalanzani
Christophe Mortagne
Crespel
Eric Halfvarson
Four Servants
Vincent Ordonneau
Spirit of Antonia's Mother
Catherine Carby
Nathanael
David Junghoon Kim
Hermann
Charles Rice
Schlemil
Yuriy Yurchuk
Luther
Jeremy White
Stella
Olga Sabadoch
Chorus
Royal Opera Chorus
Concert Master
Sergey Levitin
Orchestra
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House

Les Contes d'Hoffmann Digital Programme

Les Contes d'Hoffmann Digital Programme
£2.99

Digital Programmes bring together a range of specially selected films, audio clips, pictures, articles, features, news and information, as well as exclusives and updates, and highlights from the Royal Opera House website, YouTube, SoundCloud and Flickr pages. Features are added as the performances approach, to enhance your experience of a production.

Cast sheets

Cast sheets are available as PDFs

News and features

To find out more visit the Les Contes d'Hoffmann (2016) production page.