During the Second Empire of Napoleon and Eugénie, Offenbach’s tiny theatre, Les Bouffes-Parisiens on the Champs Elysées, was one of the sights of Paris. But the purveyor of a hundred frivolous operettas such as Orpheus in the Underworld, La Belle Hélène and La Vie Parisienne, wanted to bequeath one serious opera to posterity. He chose a difficult subject in The Tales of Hoffmann, which depicts three short stories by E. T. A. Hoffmann, an influential German writer, with wild imagination. Hoffmann portrayal of his unhappy sexual experiences with three of his mistresses, represented by a soulless doll or automaton, a Venetian courtesan, and a twenty year-old singer who displays passionate love explore philosophical and psychological issues untouched by Offenbach.
Read alsoWagner’s The Ring of the Nibelung: A Short Guide To A Great Opera
This ebook is a compendium of four Short Guides, one for each of the four operas in The Ring, which Wagner staged as a complete cycle in 1876, Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung. It is equally useful and necessary for those interested in a single opera from The Ring, as it is for those attending or listening to all four. It…
The composer Ernest Guiraud finished the opera which was produced posthumously in 1881.
There are too many characters, and too much drink, but the memorable gondola song, Belle nuit, ô nuit d’amour, is among the ‘Hundred Best Tunes’.
Hoffmann’s rival is the devil incarnate, who hopes to seduce the latest object of his attentions, an opera diva. Hoffmann tells his three tales to his fellow drinkers, and gets so drunk that there is no chance of him having her.
Short Guides to Great Operas written by Michael Steen, author of the acclaimed The Lives and Times of the Great Composers, are concise, entertaining, and easy-to-read books about opera. They are packed with useful information and informed opinion, helping to make you a truly knowledgeable opera-goer, and so maximising your enjoyment of a great musical experience.
Each at around the price you pay for a standard opera-house programme, and available from all popular ebook retailers and ereaders, they are the perfect accompaniment to a night at an opera – whether that’s at home, or at the opera house, or in the cinema for opera on screen, such as ROH Live, Met Opera HD Live, or Glyndebourne Festival in cinemas.