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Contes d'Hoffmann, Les (Barbier / Offenbach)




Opéra fantastique in a prologue, three acts and an epilogue premiered at the Opéra-Comique on 10 February 1881.


Jules Barbier’s libretto for Les Contes d’Hoffmann was adapted from a play that he and Michel Carré had written in 1851, inspired by the short stories of the German Romantic writer and composer E. T. A. Hoffmann. Based on translations of various works that had been circulating in France since the early decades of the nineteenth century, the plot features the poet Hoffmann himself as the protagonist, whose successive failures in love take him, amongst other places, to a German tavern and a Venetian palace. The tales are narrated in a style noir that contrasts with the composer’s previous works. Offenbach attended several rehearsals and he was still working on the score when he died in 1880, four months before the work opened. Ernest Guiraud provided the missing orchestration and also wrote some of the recitatives. Carvalho, director of the Opéra-Comique, considered the work too long, so it was first presented without the third act. The genesis of the work is still ongoing: successive versions have appeared since the second half of the twentieth century, each one trying to do justice to Offenbach’s intentions. Despite that instability, the work has firmly established itself in the pantheon of operatic works, and today it is a favourite in opera houses all over the world. The lovely Act III barcarolle, “Belle nuit, ô nuit d'amour”, has inspired many transcriptions and has also been used in several films.

    Images - 11
  • Cécile Thévenet en Nicklausse (Les Contes d'Hoffmann d'Offenbach)
  • Jean Périer dans Les Contes d'Hoffmann
  • Marianne Nicot-Vauchelet dans Les Contes d'Hoffmann (Offenbach)
  • Scène des Contes d'Hoffmann (Offenbach)
  • Scène des Contes d'Hoffmann (Offenbach)
  • Scène des Contes d'Hoffmann (Offenbach)
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    Persons - 2
  • BARBIER, Jules (1825-1901)
  • OFFENBACH, Jacques (1819-1880)
  • Study - 1
  • Jardin, Étienne – The voice of commerce