Director Barrie Kosky presents Offenbach's surreal and fantastical story as the disturbing nightmare of an artist who is in danger of losing ever more of his own self – in a production with only a single soprano in all three female roles, but several performers in the Hoffmann role. Here, the title role in the opera's first two acts will be sung for the first time in the piece's 132-year performance history in the way that the composer originally planned: by a baritone!
Hoffmann's fate comprises three women. Three unhappy love affairs. Or are they in fact three female forms which exist only in Hoffmann's imagination? – Olympia the doll, Antonia the singer and Giulietta the courtesan. The artificial body without a soul, the artist without a voice, and the seductress without a heart. They not least also represent Hoffmann's own fears of loss: loss of reality, loss of his own artistic expression, and loss of identity. At the end, Hoffmann must flee as a murderer – flee from himself and his fantasies, which increasingly come to resemble a bad trip.
The lasting success of Offenbach's fantastical opera, whose inaugural performance was held only posthumously and under difficult circumstances, is not just due to its fantastical plot, but also the inexhaustible creative richness of the Offenbachian score. »The Song of Little Zaches«, Olympia's Aria or the famous barcarole are just three of this opera's numerous outstanding pieces. Offenbach, the Cologne-born Jew in Paris, has fused Jewish, German and French elements in his music to form something new, something which shaped the Paris music scene to such an extent that it today seems genuinely French to us.
In the repertoire since 2 Oct 2015
Duration: 3 hours (one intermission)