Les Contes d'Hoffmann

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The Metropolitan Opera is making some changes to the way it's presenting its world renowned operas. In addition to its stage performances, it's transmitting some of its shows to theater screens across the world.

In this week's Arts File on WQXR, WNYC's Kerry Nolan looks into the upcoming high definition broadcast of Bartlett Sher's production of Les Contes d'Hoffmann (The Tales of Hoffman), which will be transmitted to movie theaters, universities and arts organizations worldwide on December 19. Opera lovers who watch the broadcast will see the live performance from the stage in New York.

All the New York stage productions of Sher's Hoffman feature a sprinkling of scantily clad women on stage. But in the H.D. performance, the women will be wearing sheer body stockings, so that the performance can comply with Motion Picture Association of America standards.

The H.D. broadcasts beg the question: Can the Met remain true to a director's vision while maintaining its community standards for a global audience?

Zachary Woolfe, who writes about opera for The New York Observer, tells Kerry Nolan what he thinks about Hoffman's broadcast debut in this week's Arts File.

WQXR is airing live broadcasts of many of the Metropolitan Opera's shows, beginning this weekend with Giacomo Puccini's Il Trittico. To hear Il Trittico, tune into the Toll Brothers-Metropolitan Opera live broadcast series at 12:30 P.M. on December 12.

A scene from the Prologue of Offenbach's "Les Contes d'Hoffmann" with Ana Netrebko as Stella.
A scene from the Prologue of Offenbach's "Les Contes d'Hoffmann" with Ana Netrebko as Stella. ( Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera )
Joseph Calleja as Hoffmann and Ekaterina Gubanova as Giulietta in Offenbach’s “Les Contes d’Hoffmann.” Taken during the rehearsal on November 27, 2009 at the Met.
Joseph Calleja as Hoffmann and Ekaterina Gubanova as Giulietta in Offenbach’s “Les Contes d’Hoffmann.” Taken during the rehearsal on November 27, 2009 at the Met. ( Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera )
Joseph Calleja as Hoffmann and Anna Netrebko as Stella in Offenbach’s “Les Contes d’Hoffmann.” Taken during the rehearsal on November 27, 2009 at the Metropolitan Opera House.
Joseph Calleja as Hoffmann and Anna Netrebko as Stella in Offenbach’s “Les Contes d’Hoffmann.” Taken during the rehearsal on November 27, 2009 at the Metropolitan Opera House. ( Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera )
A scene from Act I (Olympia act) of Offenbach’s “Les Contes d’Hoffmann”  with Joseph Calleja as Hoffmann, Alan Held as Coppelius, and Kate Lindsey as Nicklausse.
A scene from Act I (Olympia act) of Offenbach’s “Les Contes d’Hoffmann” with Joseph Calleja as Hoffmann, Alan Held as Coppelius, and Kate Lindsey as Nicklausse. ( Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera )
A scene from Act II (Antonia act) of Offenbach’s “Les Contes d’Hoffmann”  with Joseph Calleja as Hoffmann (seated), Kate Lindsey as Nicklausse, and Alan Held as Dr. Miracle.
A scene from Act II (Antonia act) of Offenbach’s “Les Contes d’Hoffmann” with Joseph Calleja as Hoffmann (seated), Kate Lindsey as Nicklausse, and Alan Held as Dr. Miracle. ( Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera )
Joseph Calleja as Hoffmann and Kate Lindsey as the Muse in Offenbach's "Les Contes d'Hoffmann."
Joseph Calleja as Hoffmann and Kate Lindsey as the Muse in Offenbach's "Les Contes d'Hoffmann." ( Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera )
Anna Netrebko as Antonia and Joseph Calleja as Hoffmann in Offenbach's "Les Contes d'Hoffmann."
Anna Netrebko as Antonia and Joseph Calleja as Hoffmann in Offenbach's "Les Contes d'Hoffmann." ( Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera )
A scene from the Prologue of Offenbach's "Les Contes d'Hoffmann" with Joseph Calleja as Hoffmann.
A scene from the Prologue of Offenbach's "Les Contes d'Hoffmann" with Joseph Calleja as Hoffmann. ( Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera )
A scene from the Prologue of Offenbach's "Les Contes d'Hoffmann" with Michael Todd Simpson as Hermann (seated on left), Joseph Calleja as Hoffmann, and Kate Lindsey as Nicklausse.
A scene from the Prologue of Offenbach's "Les Contes d'Hoffmann" with Michael Todd Simpson as Hermann (seated on left), Joseph Calleja as Hoffmann, and Kate Lindsey as Nicklausse. ( Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera )
A scene from Act I (Olympia act) of Offenbach’s “Les Contes d’Hoffmann” with Mark Schowalter as Spalanzani, Kathleen Kim as Olympia, and Alan Oke as Cochenille.
A scene from Act I (Olympia act) of Offenbach’s “Les Contes d’Hoffmann” with Mark Schowalter as Spalanzani, Kathleen Kim as Olympia, and Alan Oke as Cochenille. ( Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera )
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