[Met Tour] CID:170340

Les Contes d'Hoffmann
The American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Tue, December 20, 1955

Les Contes d'Hoffmann (73)
Jacques Offenbach | Jules Barbier
Richard Tucker

Roberta Peters

Risë Stevens

Lucine Amara

Natalie Kelepovska

Lindorf/Coppélius/Dappertutto/Dr. Miracle
Martial Singher

Mildred Miller

Alessio De Paolis

Lawrence Davidson

James McCracken

Calvin Marsh

Paul Franke

Clifford Harvuot

Norman Scott

Mother's Voice
Sandra Warfield

Pierre Monteux

Review 1:

Review of Edwin H. Scholoss in the Inquirer

'Tales of Hoffmann' Sung by Met

The Metropolitan Opera Association brought its sumptuous new edition of "The Tales of Hoffmann" to the Academy of Music last night as the second offering of the season here. It was the same production and cast that opened the company's season in New York last month, and it was the first performance of Jacques Offenbach's only grand opera given here by the Met in more than a decade.

The usual glittering capacity audience was on hand last night and there was plenty of splendor on the bright side of the footlights, too. The opera's story of the three frustrated loves of Hoffman, an excessively impressionable young poet, is shown against early 19th Century romantic backgrounds, some of them particularly gorgeous, especially as seen in last night's ballroom scene of Act 1 and the later scene in a Venetian palazzo on the Grand Canal where the famous "Barcarole" occurs.


In fact, at times the production seemed to be suffering from an embarrassment of riches. What, with the opulence and lavish abundance of Rolf Gerard's vivid sets and costumes and the excited movement of Cyril Richard's staging, one felt that the charm of "Hoffmann" as a period piece had been somewhat smothered in splendor. But these were merely passing thoughts of disaffection.

Beautifully sung by a gifted all-American cast, expertly and stylishly conducted by that distinguished octogenarian Pierre Monteaux, and thanks, above all, to the romantic appeal and wit of Offenbach's engaging music, last night's show can be set down as one of the most treasurable occasions in recent seasons.

Richard Tucker, one of General Manager Bing's most gifted lyric tenors, sang superbly as the libretto's thrice love-lorn hero. Particularly winning were his dealings with the role's two principal love songs, '"Ah, vive deux," early in the opera, and "O dieu de quelle iviesse," his impassioned address to the courtesan Giulietta in the Venetian scene. Roberta Peters was required to dart about with the mechanical doll on which Hoffman lavishes his very human affections. An assignment of great coloratura difficulty, it also requires Miss Peters to dart about with the movements of a mechanical toy.


Miss Peters' unmistakable feminine allure makes it hard for anyone to believe that she functions only by clockwork. But within those limitations she was plausible enough and her singing, as usual, was a pleasure to hear as it soared above the staff. Rise Stevens as Gilulietta was believably seductive, visually and vocally. Perhaps the best singing among Hoffmann's inammoratas was by Lucine Amara as the ill-fated Antonia. Miss Amara's voice is fresh and appealing, and she uses it artfully. Especially effective was the plaintive aria which opens the last act, "Elle a fui la tourterelle."

The distinguished Martial Singher, a baritone with a long record of success on the lyric stage, had the most challenging assignment of impersonating, in turn the four incarnations of Hoffman's evil genius - the cynical Lindorf, the rascally Coppelius. the suave and sinister Dappertutto and the baleful Dr. Miracle. These are juicy parts and Mr. Singher was reasonably successful with them histrionically. His singing can be spoken of more warmly and he scored handsomely with one of the opera's most famous arias "Scintille diament."

Principal supporting roles were ably sung by Paul Franke as Spalanzani, Clifford Harvout as Schlemil, Norman Scott as Crespel and Sandra Warfield as the voice of Antonia's Mother.


Special mention is due the fine contributions of Mildred Miller as Hoffmann's friend Nicklausse and the ever-reliable Alessio De Paolis in a number of character parts, mostly humorous. Heard in the Prologue and Epilogue in Luther's Tavern were George Cehanovsky, James McCracken, Calvin Marsh and Natalie Kelepovska.

Between the last two acts there was a special demonstration for Maestro Monteux. The audience was properly appreciative at all stages and there was even more than the usual quota of curtain calls.

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