- THE VILLIANS:
Vincent de Kort
- STAGE DIRECTOR:
Luther’s tavern is empty, illuminated only by a ghostly ray of moonlight. An invisible chorus of spirits is heard singing of the magical powers of wine and beer, “Glou, glou, glou” (Glug, glug, glug). The Muse of Poetry emerges from a barrel with the aria, “La vérité, dit-on, sortait d’un puits” (Truth, it is said, came out of a well). The Muse has come to watch over her charge, the poet Hoffmann, whose talent she protects and nurtures. She declares her jealousy of the beautiful opera singer Stella with whom Hoffmann was once involved. Stella is performing this very evening in the opera house next to the tavern. The Muse fears that Hoffmann will become infatuated once again with the diva and distract him from his artistry. The Muse vows that that she herself will claim the poet’s soul tonight. To keep close watch over him she transforms herself into a young student named Nicklausse who is one of Hoffmann’s friends. Councilor Lindorf arrives at the tavern followed by Stella’s servant, Andres. He has a deep desire for Stella and has bribed Andres to give him a note that Stella intended for Hoffmann. The note encloses a key and promises Hoffmann that she will meet him in her dressing room after the performance. Lindorf pockets the key and declares that he, not Hoffmann, will open the door to the prima donna’s boudoir. In the aria, “Dans les rôles d’amoureux langoureux” (In the role of a languishing lover) he claims to have the power of the devil in getting what he wants and vows to triumph over the poet whom he despises as a foolish drunkard. Luther, the tavern keeper, enters with his waiters to greet the horde of boisterous students that pour in. The jolly mood is broken when Hoffmann arrives in a melancholy state having just watched Stella at the opera. His friends manage to coax him to telling a favorite story – that of the grotesque dwarf Kleinzach in the aria, “Il ètait une fois à la cour d’Eisenach,” (There was once at the court of Eisenach). But Hoffmann cannot keep his mind from thoughts of Stella’s beauty. When the students tease him about being in love, he protests vehemently. Lindorf, who has been watching from a corner, confronts the poet and mocks him. Hoffmann tells his friends that he believes Lindorf to be the devil because the councilor’s presence always seems to bring him misfortune. When asked why he loves Stella, Hoffmann replies that he loves not one, but three women. Hoffmann begins to tell the story of his three loves.
ACT I OLYMPIA
Hoffmann has apprenticed himself to the mad scientist Spalanzani in order to meet his beautiful daughter Olympia. On this day Spalanzani is giving a party to present his daughter to the public. After Hoffmann arrives he sings, “Allons! Courage et confiance…Ah! vivre deux!” (Come now! Courage and confidence!…Ah!, to live together). Nicklausse appears and sings, “Une poupèe aux yeux d’èmail” (A doll with enamel eyes). She warns Hoffmann that there is something strange and lifeless about the girl, but the infatuated poet ignores his friend’s warning. The bizarre eye-maker Coppelius arrives and convinces Hoffmann to buy a pair of magical glasses guaranteed to make Olympia appear more beautiful than ever in the aria, “J’ai des yeux, de vrais yeux,” (I have eyes, real eyes). When Spalanzani comes in he is shaken to find Coppelius who has claimed a share in the scientist’s new invention. Spalanzani writes out a check and buys all rights from Coppelius, who then leaves. The servant Cochenille enters and announces the arrival of guests, all of whom have come to meet Olympia. They enter to the sounds of a minuet. As Spalanzani accompanies her on the harp, Olympia sings a florid coloratura aria called The Doll Song, “Les oiseaux dans la charmille,” (The birds in the arbor). Everyone is greatly impressed. While the guests go off to dine, Hoffmann remains alone with her and expresses his love in a romance, “Doux aveu, gage de nos amours” (Sweet avowal, pledge of our love). She replies in monosyllables. When Hoffmann tries to touch her, she runs away. Spalanzani returns with his guests and Olympia and all begin to waltz in the finale scene. At first everyone remarks on Olympia’s gracefulness as she dances with Hoffmann. Soon, however she begins to spin about him madly, moving so quickly that he falls to the floor unconscious and breaks his glasses. Meanwhile, Coppelius has returned furious that Spalanzani has paid him with a worthless check. With murder in his eyes he follows Olympia as she leaves. When he returns he is carrying her mutilated body and strews her arms and legs about the room. Hoffmann realizes the absurd and terrible truth – that his beloved was nothing but a mechanical doll.
ACT II ANTONIA
After the loss of Olympia, Hoffmann has forsaken his scientific studies and turned to the world of music, becoming a composer. He has met and fallen in love with the frail Antonia, a young girl who dreams of following in her late mother’s footsteps and becoming a great singer. The girl’s father, the violin maker Crespel, fears that Antonia may have inherited the fatal heart ailment that killed her mother. Antonia sits at the piano and sings, “Elle a fui, la tourtelle,” (The turtle-dove has flown). When she finishes she is exhausted. Her illness is aggravated every time she sings, and Crespel has therefore made her promise never to sing again. Afraid of Hoffmann’s influence, Crespel has secretly moved his daughter to Munich, keeping her in seclusion. Hoffmann has traced Antonia’s whereabouts and arrives in Munich with Nicklausse. While Crespel is out, the elderly, befuddled servant Frantz enters and sings, “”Jour et nuit je me mets en quatre,” (Day and night I wear myself out). Frantz unwittingly admits Hoffmann into the house. Antonia is overjoyed to see her love again, but is unable to explain her father’s reasons for forbidding her to sing. She joins Hoffmann briefly in a favorite love song that he has composed, “J’ai le bonheur dans l’âme!” (My soul is filled with happiness). The duet exhausts her almost to the point of collapse. Hearing her father return, Antonia hurries back to her room. Hoffmann hides himself, determined to solve the mystery. Crespel is horrified by the arrival of Dr. Miracle, the frightening, maniacal physician who attended his wife at her deathbed. Crespel believes that Miracle murdered his wife and will do the same to his daughter. The doctor uses his supernatural powers to hypnotize Crespel and then conducts a bizarre “examination” in his presence. Miracle conjures the soul of Antonia from her room, speaks to the phantom girl, takes her pulse, and urges her to sing. After a brief outburst of song the phantom Antonia returns to her room. Miracle tells Crespel that the girl will die unless he can treat her, “Pour conjurer le danger,” (To avert the danger). When he produces his strange and horrible phials of medicine the terrified Crespel drives him from the room in a frenzy. Hoffmann, who has observed all from his hiding place, now understands Crespel’s motives for silencing Antonia. If she sings, she will die. Hoffman asks Antonia to marry him on the condition that she give up her dreams of a career and never sing again. Love will be enough he says. Bewildered and saddened by the prohibition, Antonia nonetheless consents to his proposal. Once Hoffmann leaves, Antonia is tortured by her decision. Although she tries to remain firm in her resolve to accept love rather than a career, she hears a strange voice in her head reminding her of the glories of the stage and the drab routine of domestic life. It is the voice of Miracle who has materialized but is invisible to the girl. He sings, “Tu ne chanteras plus?” (You will not sing anymore?) His words begin a trio, which includes Antonia and the voice of her dead mother. When Antonia tries to deny these thoughts Miracle invokes the spirit of her mother. The mother’s portrait begins to glow and seemingly comes to life. Antonia’s mother urges her daughter to sing, “Chère enfant que j’appelle,” (Dear child to whom I call). As the voices of Miracle and her mother become more insistent, Antonia’s resistance crumbles and she sings passionately and feverishly, as if possessed. Miracle picks up a violin and plays a demonic accompaniment. As the girl’s voice rises to a climax, Antonia falls to the floor. When Crespel, Frantz, Hoffmann and Nicklausse enter the room they are too late. Antonia dies in her father’s arms singing the words of Hoffmann’s love song. Agonized, the poet screams for a doctor. Dr. Miracle enters and pronounces the girl dead.
ACT III GIULIETTA
The poet Hoffmann is now disillusioned with romantic love and has dedicated himself to the pleasures of wine and women. He is a guest at Schlemil’s sumptuous Venetian palazzo whose mistress, the beautiful courtesan Giulietta, is hosting a decadent orgy. She is assisted by a grotesque hunchback named Pitichinaccio. Giulietta, Nicklausse and Hoffmann sing a seductive barcarolle about the pleasures of love, “Belle nuit, ô nuit d’amour” (Lovely night, O night of love). Hoffmann responds with a hedonistic drinking song, “Amis, l’amourtendre et rêveur, erreur!” (Friends, tender and dreamy love is a mistake!), scorning love and celebrating the virtues of wine. Schlemil arrives and is displeased to find his mistress in the midst of a bacchanal. She mocks him and introduces Hoffmann. A tension between the two men instantly emerges. Nicklausse privately tells Hoffmann that he fears trouble if they remain in Venice and warns him against falling in love with a courtesan. Hoffmann denies that he has any feelings for Giulietta and drags Nicklausse off to the card game. His exiting words are, “May the devil take me if I fall in love again!” As if on cue, the sorcerer Dappertutto emerges from the shadows. As the devil it is his desire to capture the soul of Hoffmann. He will use his accomplice Giulietta as the bait. Dapertutto takes out a magical diamond and uses it to summon the courtesan, “ Scintille, diamant” (Sparkle, diamond). Hypnotized by the jewel, Giulietta appears and agrees to seduce the poet and capture his reflection in a mirror. She has already stolen the shadow of Schlemil in this way. Giulietta plays upon Hoffmann’s sympathies, confessing that she is lonely and yearns for a man who will rescue her from the unhappy life she is leading. At first Hoffmann resists. After she feigns tears, however, he falls into her trap and succumbs, passionately declaring his love for her, “Ô Dieu, de quelle ivresse embrases-tu mon âme,” (O God! With what rapture you set my soul aflame). Giulietta promises that she will escape Venice with him, but first he must get rid of Schlemil. As proof of his love Giulietta begs Hoffmann to leave his reflection in her mirror. Intoxicated by her persuasive charms he embraces her passionately, unwittingly surrendering his soul. Dapertutto arrives with Schlemil and Pitichinaccio. The sorcerer comments on how pale Hoffmann has become and bids him to look in the mirror. Hoffmann is amazed to see that his reflection has disappeared. Nicklausse urges his friend to flee, but the poet remains to fight a duel with Schlemil. After killing his rival Hoffmann removes a key from Schlemil’s body and rushes off to Giulietta’s boudoir. After finding her room empty, he returns and is horrified to see the courtesan in a gondola with Dapertutto and Pitichinaccio, mocking and laughing at him as they drift away down the Grand Canal. Once again, Hoffmann has lost his love.
Back in Luther’s tavern, the students have listened spellbound to Hoffmann’s stories. Nicklausse, always the voice of reason, points out that the three women in Hoffmann’s tales all represent different aspects of the same woman – Stella. The drunken Hoffmann flies into a rage at the mention of the diva’s name, and demands more to drink. He is on the verge of collapsing when Stella enters the tavern. In a drunken stupor, Hoffmann barely recognizes her, vaguely connecting her with Olympia, Antonia, and Giulietta. Lindorf steps forward to escort her away. As they reach the door Hoffmann stops them with a final mocking verse about Kleinzach, then, falls insensible to the floor. As he has in each of his stories Hoffmann has lost his real-life love to his nemesis. Left alone with Hoffmann, Nicklausse changes back into the character of the Muse. In her true guise she declares her eternal love for the poet. Hoffmann begins to awaken, feeling inspired as the various characters in his imagination join the Muse in a chorus. They urge the poet to let his genius be reborn from the ashes of his sufferings. All is not lost, for through his pain Hoffmann’s poetic art will flourish.
~ Florida Grand Opera
The Tales of Hoffmann, composed by Jacques Offenbach takes place over a series of flashbacks, as the famous German poet Hoffmann tells the story of his three great failed romances at a bar, ruining his fourth great romance in the process. Each woman represents a part of the whole that he is seeking: Olympia, the beautiful doll, Antonia, the singer and Giulietta, the courtesan. As his current love, the prima donna Stella, abandons him in despair, Hoffmann once more dedicates himself to his true love: poetry.
Directed by HOT Artistic Director, Henry Akina, who celebrates his 20th Season with the company. Mr. Akina is joined by Maestro Vincent de Kort. The pair last led HOT’s acclaimed production of Siren Song (2015).
Tickets for The Tales of Hoffmann are available as follows:
Oahu: HOT Box Office – HawaiiOpera.Org, 808.596.7858
- April 21, Friday, 8:00pm
- April 23, Sunday, 4:00pm
- April 25, Tuesday, 7:00pm
All performances at the Blaisdell Concert Hall
Sung in French with English translations projected above the stage.
Approximately 3 hours with two intermissions
- Orchestra Level
- A - $135
- OR/OL - $90
- B - $90
- C - $63
- D - $34
- Balcony Level
- A - $135
- B - $90
- C - $63
- D - N/A
- Call the Box Office:
(808) 596-7858 or 1-800-836-7372
- Call the Main Office: (808) 596-7372
- Or Buy Tickets Here:
Pre-Performance Lanai Lecture:
- Show Dayat the Ward Lanai, Blaisdell Concert Hall1st lecture: 60 minutes before curtain2nd lecture: 30 minutes before curtain
In-Depth Preview Lectures:
April 12 / 10:00am / Honolulu Museum of Art / Led by Dr. Lynne Johnson