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Les Contes d'Hoffmann
(Tales of Hoffmann)

Music:Jacques Offenbach
Libretto:Michel Carré and Jules Barbier
Premiere:Paris, February 10, 1881

Loosely based on the life of the German writer E.T.A. Hoffmann, Tales of Hoffmann portrays a mysterious world where human and supernatural forces meet. In a tavern, the poet Hoffmann tells of his three ill-fated romances. In the first tale, he pursues the doll Olympia until she dances him into a mechanical frenzy, and he wearily realizes that she is not human. Next, he falls passionately in love with the sickly but gifted Antonia, who is compelled by her mother's portrait to sing away her last ounce of strength. Finally, Hoffmann is drawn against his will to Giulietta, who steals his reflection for the sorcerer Dapertuto. Blind with passion, Hoffmann murders Giulietta's lover Schlemil, only to see her entice yet another man. As the last tale ends, Hoffmann, lost in a bitter haze of drink and memory, fails to notice Stella, the woman who truly loves him, as she tosses him a flower.


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