les Contes d’Hoffmann
The Tales of Hoffmann
Tickets for THE TALES OF HOFFMANN are now on sale by clicking on one of the dates below OR by calling THE PALLADIUM BOX OFFICE AT 727-822-3590. Tickets for all other St Pete Opera events, including INTO THE WOODS, are available on this website or at the St Pete Opera Box office at 727-823-2040 M-F, 1:00 pm to 5:30 pm. Thank you!
TICKETS: Tier A $67 / Tier B $52 / Tier C $37 / Tier D $22
Listen to live music and conversation with Russell Gant, Maestro Sforzini and cast members from The Tales of Hoffman on WUSF.
Sung in French with English surtitles.
Sponsored by Belinda Dumont
Conductor Maestro Mark Sforzini
Stage Director Karl W. Hesser
Choreographer Daryl Gray
Costume Design Glenn Breed
Lighting Design Keith Arsenault
Set Design Steve Mitchell
Assistant Conductor David Štech
Fight Director Daniel Granke
LOVE AFFAIRS WE CAN’T FORGET
Hoffmann, the poet hero of The Tales of Hoffmann, has four love affairs that haunt him in Offenbach’s grand and final opera. The opera fantastique begins with Hoffmann waiting in a tavern for his current passion, an opera diva appropriately named Stella. To pass the time, Hoffmann tells the other students stories about three of his previous loves, each of which ends in disaster. For example, Olympia turns out to be a mechanical doll! Each of his loves gets wonderful music to sing before breaking Hoffmann’s heart.
Palladium Theatre, 253 Fifth Ave N, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Voice of Antonia’s Mother, Tara Curtis
Robyn Rocklein cover
Synopsis– Les Contes d’Hoffmann (Offenbach)
Prologue – Luther’s Tavern, Nuremberg, Germany
In the darkened tavern next to the opera house, Hoffmann’s Muse enters and addresses the audience. She tells them that in order to assist Hoffmann in his true calling, she will have to disguise herself to save him from his misadventures in love. She calls on the Spirits of Beer and Wine to assist her and disappears to transform into Nicklausse.
Councilor Lindorf, an enemy and rival of Hoffmann, enters the tavern and intercepts a letter to Hoffmann from his current love, the opera singer Stella, who is appearing next door. He determines to disgrace Hoffmann and steal Stella’s affections.
A group of students rushes into the tavern during the intermission. When Hoffmann arrives, they ask him to tell them for the story of Kleinzach. At the end of the song, Hoffmann and Lindorf taunt each other and the subject turns to love. As students praise their own loves, Hoffmann is reminded of his own three loves. The students decide to skip the second act of the opera to listen to Hoffmann tell the stories of his loves.
Act 1 – Spalanzani’s Salon, Paris, France
The inventor Spalanzani is preparing a grand reception to show off his latest invention. His student, Hoffmann, is infatuated with Spalanzani’s daughter Olympia. Nicklausse, who knows that Olympia is an automaton, is unsuccessful in persuading Hoffmann to face reality. Coppélius, a fellow inventor, arrives to be paid for the eyes he has supplied for Olympia. He sells Hoffmann a pair of rose-colored glasses which convince Hoffmann that Olympia is real. Spalanzani pays for the eyes with a draft drawn on a bank he knows is bankrupt.
The guests arrive and are astonished at Olympia’s versatility. The guests go in to dinner and Hoffmann stays behind to declare his love for Olympia. When he inadvertently activates a mechanism, Olympia rushes off to the dining room and Hoffmann follows.
Coppélius returns, furious at being cheated, and hides in Olympia’s room. The guests return to watch Olympia dance with Hoffmann. When Olympia gets a bit out of control, she is retired to her room. Moments later, the sounds of breaking are heard and Coppélius emerges with parts of Olympia. Hoffmann realizes that he been in love with a mechanical doll.
Act 2 – Crespel’s House, Munich, Germany
Crespel has brought his daughter Antonia to Munich to hide her from Hoffmann, who has encouraged her singing, and from Dr. Miracle, the sinister doctor who treated Antonia’s mother. Antonia’s mother died from a strange illness, weakened by the physical strain of singing. Antonia shows similar symptoms. Crespel makes her promise not to sing and orders their servant Frantz to keep out all visitors.
Hoffmann and Nicklausse find the house. Nicklausse encourages Hoffmann to let the power of music overcome his infatuation, but leaves when Hoffmann decides to stay. Antonia and Hoffman are reunited, but Antonia goes to her room when she hears her father returning. Hoffmann hides to discover the truth about Antonia’s illness.
Dr. Miracle appears, but Crespel forbids him to examine Antonia. Dr. Miracle magically summons Antonia’s spirit, examines her and commands her to sing. Crespel accuses Dr. Miracle of killing Antonia’s mother and attempting to kill Antonia by making her sing. Crespel forces Dr. Miracle out and Hoffmann emerges from hiding, resolved to save Antonia. When Antonia returns, Hoffmann tells her that he now believes she should give up singing. After Hoffmann leaves to arrange their escape, Antonia is left alone. Dr. Miracle re-appears and tries to make Antonia regret her decision to stop singing. When she resists, he causes the portrait of her mother to come to life and beg her daughter to sing. Antonia gives in and the exertion causes her to collapse and die in her father’s arms.
Act 3 – Schlémil’s Pallazzo, Venice, Italy
Giulietta entertains guests in the palazzo of her patron Schlémil, attended by her servant Pitichinaccio. Hoffmann, disillusioned by love, only wants to drink and gamble. Schlémil returns and takes an immediate dislike to Hoffmann. Giulietta and the guests retire to the gambling rooms.
Dapertutto, an enigmatic magician with power over Giulietta, arrives with a diamond to bribe Giulietta to steal Hoffmann’s reflection, the same way she has stolen Schlémil’s shadow. When Hoffmann attempts to leave, Giulietta seduces him, wins his love and captures his reflection.
When Schlémil catches them, he challenges Hoffmann to a duel. Giulietta tells Hoffmann that the key to her room is around Schlémil’s neck; he must kill Schlémil to free her from his control. After Dapertutto’s remark, Hoffmann discovers his reflection is truly gone.
When Giulietta tells them it is time to leave, Dapertutto lends Hoffmann his sword to fight Schlémil. Hoffmann kills his rival, takes the key and rushes to Giulietta’s room, but finds it empty. Giulietta, Dapertutto and Pitichinaccio depart in a gondola while Nicklausse tries to make Hoffmann flee the approaching police.
Epilogue – Luther’s Tavern, Nuremberg, Germany
Now extremely drunk, Hoffmann concludes the story of his three loves. Nicklausse points out that all three are really aspects of the same woman: Stella. Lindorf slips out to meet Stella backstage. The students resume their drinking song and salute Stella’s triumphant entrance. In his drunken stupor, Hoffmann does not recognize Stella other than as Lindorf’s mistress and insults them both before passing out. Lindorf, Stella and the students leave him with Nicklausse in the deserted tavern.
Nicklausse begins the transformation back to The Muse. She tells the unconscious Hoffmann to forget his dreams of love and happiness and trust in her. She summons the Spirits of Beer and Wine, and completes the transformation. She revives Hoffmann, joined by the characters of his imagination, and he starts to write, encouraged to use his heart’s pain to reach a greater love in art.
– Karl W Hesser