Libretto by Jules Barbier after the play by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré
Opéra fantastique in five acts
The protagonist of the opera is E.T.A. Hoffmann, the prototype of the German romantic period artist: his life is an artwork, his lower depths, his doubts, his grand inspirations – his crises. And all of these are connected with: women. Hoffmann in the opera tells of three types of woman in his tales, the “lifeless doll with a heart of ice”, the “virtuoso”, ill and destined to die, as well as the “shameless courtesan”.
Jacques Offenbach’s opera fantastique, premièred in 1881, is based on the play of the same name by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré, who drew from the biographies and works of E.T.A. Hoffmann, Adelbert von Chamisso and Alfred de Musset to create their own artist’s drama. It is not a literature opera – the protagonists from different romantic tales are connected to one another by a fictitious Hoffmann – but rather more of a message to the writer, telling him to make art his matter of the heart, or perhaps even open up his heart with brutal frankness.
Based on the edition by Michael Kaye and Jean-Christophe Keck, © Schott Music International
In French with German surtitles
Coproduction with the English National Opera London