[Met Performance] CID:235730

New Production

Les Contes d'Hoffmann
Metropolitan Opera House, Thu, November 29, 1973

Debut : Huguette Tourangeau, Bliss Hebert, Allen Charles Klein, Catherine Rice Cowan

Les Contes d'Hoffmann (121)
Jacques Offenbach | Jules Barbier
Plácido Domingo

Joan Sutherland

Lindorf/Coppélius/Dappertutto/Dr. Miracle
Thomas Stewart

Huguette Tourangeau [Debut]

Andrea Velis

Edmond Karlsrud

Charles Anthony

Russell Christopher

Nico Castel

Clifford Harvuot

James Morris

Mother's Voice
Cynthia Munzer

Richard Bonynge

Bliss Hebert [Debut]

Allen Charles Klein [Debut]

Catherine Rice Cowan [Debut]

Les Contes d'Hoffmann received nineteen performances this season.
This production was purchased from the Seattle Opera.
Joan Sutherland's costumes were designed by José Varona.

Production gift of Francis Goelet, Laurence D. Lovett, and The Metropolitan Opera Guild

Review 1:

Review of Desmond Shawe-Taylor in The New Yorker

As a confirmed admirer of Offenbach's operettas, I keep hoping to see a performance of his more ambitious and romantic" Tales of Hoffmann" that will convert me to that lengthy and disheveled old favorite. Given a resourceful director, a good Hoffmann and a brilliant mechanical doll for the first episode, the evening often starts well enough; boredom threatens in the Venetian scene and can become acute before we see the last of those roistering students in Luther's tavern in the epilogue.

The new production at the Metropolitan Opera, which originated in Seattle some years ago (fanciful, ingenious direction by Bliss Hebert, still more fanciful designs and some remarkably

handsome costumes by Allen Charles Klein), runs true to form, more especially since Joan

Sutherland, its chief raison d'etre, is exceedingly brilliant and funny as Olympia, colorless as the Venetian courtesan (but no one can do much with poor Giulietta, who hasn't even a solo to her name) and ineffective as the consumptive Antonia, whose music needs above all a strong feeling for line and legato as the French understand these things. Placido Domingo was in splendid shape as Hoffmann, singing with a blend of smoothness and passion that was just right; but the poor fellow might surely have been allowed a change of clothes on those long retrospective journeys to Paris, Venice and Munich - he began to look travel-stained. Thomas Stewart offered a broadly effective gallery of assorted villains, but their music doesn't always suit his voice; transposed down by a tone, Dappertutto's "Diamond" aria sounded uncomfortably low for him, yet would probably have been too high at score pitch, with its customary concluding top G-sharp.

Richard Bonynge, who conducted with spirit and considerable skill (he is usually at his best in French music), had prepared an edition that attempts a closer approach than usual to what the composer probably intended -we are obliged to say "probably" because there is no definitive score of this unfinished opera. Spurious recitatives had been jettisoned and spoken dialogue

substituted. In theory, this is dead right; in practice, so much talk in a language that is about equally unfamiliar to actors and audience has a lowering effect on the temperature. Whenever the admirable Huguette Tourangeau spoke up in the role of the hero's faithful chum, Nicklausse (she also sang very well), our spirits correspondingly revived.

Photograph of Joan Sutherland as Olympia in Les Contes d'Hoffmann by Louis Mélançon/Metropolitan Opera.

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