Synopsis by Nathan Southern
Composer Jacques Offenbach's 1881 opera The Tales of Hoffmann (Les Contes de Hoffmann) became his swan song, the composer dying four months prior to the first performance. It has since earned its place as an operatic staple, revived frequently over the decades and occasionally receiving slightly different interpretations. The basic story remains the same, however -- the poet Hoffmann is tricked by The Muse (who assumes the guise of his best friend, Niklausse) into loving three different women, Olympia, Antonia, and Giuletta, actually all facets of the same woman, Stella. Because none are able to reciprocate (for varying reasons), Hoffmann is eventually forced to swear his love and devotion to The Muse herself. This release, retitled Some Tales of Hoffmann, is actually a film of Michael Kaye's unique stage production. In Kaye's interpretation, Hoffmann finds himself entrapped in a realm of delirium, surrounded by incarnations of various people who have played a part in his creative regression. Franco-Spanish tenor Daniel Galvez-Vallejo portrays the title character here, with Natalie Dessay, Barbara Hendricks, Jose Van Dam, and Isabelle Vernet among the supporting cast members.
music, nightmare, opera, philosophy, poet, villain