Offenbach's Les Contes D'Hoffmann

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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Vittorio Grigolo in the title role and Kate Lindsey as Nicklausse in Offenbach's 'Les Contes d’Hoffmann.' Vittorio Grigolo in the title role and Kate Lindsey as Nicklausse in Offenbach's 'Les Contes d’Hoffmann.' (Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera)

Today at 1 pm, join us for the Metropolitan Opera's revival of Jacques Offenbach's Les Contes D'Hoffmann. The production stars Italian tenor Vittorio Grigolo, who is singing his first Met performances of the title role. The three heroines are sung by Erin Morley, Hibla Gerzmava and Christine Rice. 

Les Contes D'Hoffmann (The Tales of Hoffmann) is based on three short stories by E.T.A. Hoffman and follows a troubled poet on his treacherous search for love. Hoffmann marks Grigolo's return to the Metropolitan Opera, after his notable performances as Rodolfo in Puccini's La Boheme, and the Duke in Verdi's Rigoletto. The production also features Thomas Hampson, who adds a new role to his extensive repertory as the Four Villains. Yves Abel conducts the score. 

Conductor: Yves Abel
Olympia: Erin Morley
Antonia/Stella: Hibla Gerzmava
Giulietta: Christine Rice
Nicklausse: Kate Lindsey
Hoffmann: Vittorio Grigolo
Four Villains: Thomas Hampson

Comments [14]

Interesting comment: "Verdi;'s [sic] La Traviata in its Venezia world premiere had its own problem with a fat soprano supposedly dying of consumption, a disease of the frail."

So, the actor/singer should always portray the physicality of the character? Or does the 'voice' trump the 'acting/singing'? DD~~

Feb. 06 2015 02:55 AM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

Bizet outlived the premiere but wrote that it did not receive the response that he felt it deserved. Verdi;'s La Traviata in its Venezia world premiere had its own problem with a fat soprano supposedly dying of consumption, a disease of the frail.

Jan. 31 2015 05:43 PM
Robert St. Onge from Cochiti Lake, NM

Bizet not only saw the premiere of 'Carmen' but he died some three months after it. Galli-Marie, the original Carmen, reported that she saw Bizet's wan face in front of her as she sang the 'Card Song' in Act 3, on the same night that Bizet died. This may indeed have happened, but what is indisputable is that the opera was still being performed. Some fiasco!

Jan. 31 2015 05:00 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

I agree with others here that the Antonia scene SHOULD be last, she being the most sympathetic and the real love of his life. When I sang the role of Hoffmann, I realized that its composere never lived to see it in actual production. Likewise Bizet never lived to see his Carmen which was a flop at its Opera Comique world premiere, make "it big." Puccini died befoire comp[eting his Turandot. E.T.A. Hoffmann was an actual living writer, so some of the drama has at least a "spin control" "grain of salt" currency. All the singers perform admirably, particularly Thomas Hampson, Vittorio GTrigolo and Erin Morley as the 4 villains, Hoffmann and Olympia respectively. Yves Abel conducts with authority. As a Wagnerian heldentenor I particularly relished the wide turns of story line and the many nuances of tone production that are dictated by the composer's vocal writing. Some singers disregard the composer's and lyricist's intentions and sing everything the same without the appropriate coloring and dynamics. Offenbach REALLY knew how to write for the voice, unlike so many contemporary famous opera composers. Of my 4 three hour long solo concerts in the main hall of Carnegie Hall, the Isaac Stern Audirtorium, two were ALL-WAGNER concerts. On my websites:, and can be downloaded 15 selections of the Wagner heldentenor roles from Rienzi to Parsifal.

Jan. 31 2015 04:26 PM

Did you know that the Ponselle sisters recorded the Barcarolle but they switching parts so you couldn't tell which was which. A secret which I think they never told. It was all in fun.

Jan. 31 2015 04:08 PM
concetta nardone from Nassau

Hope Ms. Margaret is not too ill.

Jan. 31 2015 03:55 PM
Adele F (aka AF) from Nassau County, Long Island

I agree with those who prefer the Antonia scene to be last.

Also, does anyone know what is wrong with Margaret Juntwait? She hasn't been there for quite awhile & they just say she is ill.

Jan. 31 2015 03:44 PM
Mike Jarosz from Metuchen NJ

Bring back the old production. The tavern sinking into the pit with the whole cast, and the Olympia act rolling forward from the back was a jaw dropper. This production is more Sweeney Todd than Hoffman........

and the tavern scene rose back up for the epilogue!

Jan. 31 2015 02:20 PM
concetta nardone from Nassau

I also like Antonia to be last. Not too crazy about Grigolo but I guess for this type of role he is OK. I have posted some nasty comments about his voice in the past but am trying to be a kinder and more gentle Concetta.
Italy does not seem to be producing great opera singers like they used to.
I watched Le Nozze de Figaro two weeks ago and it was really enjoyable with all the singers from all over the world including the United States.
Were there any Italians in it? I usually do not like updated productions but the sets and costumes were very nice. Know this is on a different subject.

Jan. 31 2015 02:15 PM

The older I get, the colder it gets. I'd settle sitting around the camp fire with Azucena & listen to her story over & over as long the fire kept me warm.

Jan. 31 2015 12:26 PM

CBC I wish I were in the Tavern knocking back a few & listening to Hoffmann. At least I wouldn't freezing. I too like Antonia to be last. She's the most human of the three.

Jan. 31 2015 12:16 PM
Concetta Nardone from Nassau

A combination opera/ballet film of this opera and sung in English came out years ago. Fine cinematography, particularly the Venice scene. Do not know if Jack Cardiff did this one. It starred Moira Scherer(?). However, I didn't really care for it being sung in English but some of the ballet segements were very fine indeed.

Jan. 31 2015 11:23 AM
Les from Miami, Florida

Mention should be made regarding whether the production is the traditional one, the Choudens edition, with Guiraud's recitatives, or whether it's the Oeser edition with the relatively newly-discovered ending with more emphasis on Nicklausse than Hoffman. I realize the order of the Giulietta and Antonia acts isn't "written in stone". The Olympia act is always first after the Prologue. I prefer the Guiraud additions and also prefer Antonia being Hoffman's last and most spiritual love before the Epilogue. Family matters prevent my hearing today's performance, but I'll try to make up for it by listening either to the 1965 Nicolai Gedda and de los Angeles recording with Andre' Cluytens conducting or the 1944 Met broadcast with Raoul Jobin and Sir Thomas Beecham conducting. I'm eager to read all of the reactions to today's performance.

Jan. 31 2015 10:20 AM
concetta nardone from Nassau

CBC. Hope you are well. Damn cold here, snow all over the place. More snow predicted. Hope today's opera puts all of us in a better mood.

Jan. 31 2015 07:17 AM

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