Cher Public

La nuit d’une étoile

“American tenor Matthew Polenzani sings the title role opposite Natalie Dessay as Antonia, Christian Van Horn as the four villains, Angela Brower as Nicklausse, Hye Jung Lee as Olympia, Irene Roberts as Giulietta and Jacqueline Piccolino as Stella.” [San Francisco Examiner]

  • derschatzgabber

    I saw the final dress of Hoffmann yesterday. The performing edition used by Pelly has a lot more of the Keck-Kaye edition that I was expecting. The Muse gets her aria in the prologue. In Act 1, the trio for Hoffmann, Nickausse, and Coppelius is used instead of the eye aria for Coppelius (the aria using the music Offenbach wrote for Dappertutto’s aria in the Giulietta act). In the Antonia act, the ominous chords that open the act appear at least twice later in the act to introduce some passages of spoken dialogue. Does anyone (hello QPF and Amoebaguy) know if the reappearance of those chords occurs in any of the material Offenbach wrote? The violin aria for Nicklausse is included. Near the beginning of the act, Crespel has spoken dialaogue in which he tells Antonia of his plan to incorporate Antonia’s voice inside of a famous violin. Does anyone know if that dialogue is in any of the material Offenbach worked on, or did Pelly make this up? The Giulietta act does not include the gambling music or the coloratura seduction aria for Giulietta. Dappertutto sings Scintille Diamant, but the sextet is not included. The melodrama in which Dapertutto demonstrates Schlemil’s lack of a shadow is included. After Hoffmann loses his reflection, the finale from the Keck-Kaye edition is used (mostly), but Hoffmann doesn’t kill Pitichinachio by mistake. Dappertutto uses his magic powers to kill Giulietta on a sword that he has handed to Hoffmann. Does anyone know if that is an ending to the act that Offenbach toyed with? Or is that ending entirely Pelly’s idea? In the epilogue, Stella does get music to sing that was new to me. Hoffman sings the final verse of Kleinzach as a final taunt to Lindorf. The opera closes with “On est par l’amour”, sung once by the Muse and then by the chorus. The verse in which Hoffman sings along with the Muse (it’s included in the video of the Carsen production) is not included.

    I thought Matthew Polenzani was very impressive. In prior seasons in SF,I enjoyed him in Abduction and Barber, but I think those are much lighter roles than Hoffmann. I was pleasantly surprised by how well he sings Hoffmann. Polenzani sang full voice during most of the rehearsal and he has the stamina for role. The one time I thought he might have been marking a bit was in the piano reprise of Oh dieu di quelle ivresse.

    It’s not fair to judge Dessay from a rehearsal. She seemed to be marking a bit at the beginning of the Antonio act, but she was singing in full voice by the trio. She looked great.

    The production is interesting, but I eventually got a bit tired of the (near) constant shifting of the set elements.

    Were any other parterriani in the house yesterday?

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

      It’s complicated. No, the repeat of the Antonia octave chords is totally Pelly (from his experiments with Minkowsky for their production in Lausanne to move scenery. Barbier’s wonderful dialogue between Crespel and Antonia was never set by Offenbach and only hinted at by Guiraud in his recitatives for the opera. In SFO they do a dialogue version. The Liceu-SFO coproduction is merely an extention of that Pelly production from Lausanne. Pelly’s dramaturg Agathe Melinand’s claims to having written a revised edition of the libretto are silly and false. She only made some cuts, several ill-advised decisions and re-phrasing of some of the spoken dialogues. The Stella music being sung in San Francisco has nothing to do with the Tales of Hoffmann, and the Stella-Hoffmann duet is a proposal for a reconstruction of that duet that Offenbach only sketched in part before he definitely decided against using it.

      Yes, Pelly ruins the gambling scene by eliminating Giulietta’s aria and slashing into it in other ways.

      “Dappertutto uses his magic powers to kill Giulietta on a sword that he has handed to Hoffmann. Does anyone know if that is an ending to the act that Offenbach toyed with?” That was an editorial suggestion made by Kaye in the early incarnations of his editon. Barbier’s original stage direction states:
      DAPERTUTTTO: Enfer, trouble ses [Hoffmann’s] yeux!
      HOFFMANN [referring to Giulietta]: Où donc est-elle?… (courant de groupe en groupe) Ne crois pas m’échapper!
      DAPERTUTTO: Va frappe dans l’air, le Diable s’en mêle.
      HOFFMANN: [Believing he has located Giulietta] Ah! La voilà! (il frappe Pitichinaccio, qui tombe [and Giulietta hurls herself on Piticchinaccio’s body])
      GIULIETTA (se précipitant sur le corps de Pitichnaccio) Mon ‘Nachio!”
      (No, she’s not hungry for chips, it’s her term of endearment for her deformed lover). The entire ending is very Hoffmannesque. So what happens to Giulietta? In the last act we know that Hoffmann sings “Olympia… brisée! Antonia… morte! Giulietta…” Barbier and Offenbach left it ambiguous. Over the years, tenors have sung “Giulietta! Tuée / Empoissonée / Assassinée!” Many directors insist that Giulietta, like Hoffmann’s other loves, MUST die; this Pelly realization is a perfectly fine directorial license. But based on having seen it in Barcelona, Pelly’s production could have been a lot better.

      The version of the apotheosis in which Hoffmann sings a duet with the Muse (as per Carsen and other productions) is from the Oeser Edition. There are three authentic versions of the apotheosis, but the Oeser is fiction.

      • If she’s not hungry for chips, then why does she sing a gambling aria?

        • Quanto Painy Fakor

          Only Igrok knows for sure!

        • manou

          To raise the steaks?

      • derschatzgabber

        QPF, thanks for clarifying what is Offenbach and what is Pelly in this production. While I’ve got your attention, can you tell us anything about the melodramas that were used in the Jeffrey Tate recording with Araiza as Hoffmann? I seem to recall that, after giving Crespel her promise not to sing, Antonia exits while telling him that she is going to take apart his violin. Is that another fragment of Barbier’s dialogue?

        Also, was the melodrama ending to the Giulietta act an idea that was discarded by Offenbach?

        Are the melodramas on the Tate recording genuine Offenbach?

        • Quanto Painy Fakor

          ” after giving Crespel her promise not to sing, Antonia exits while telling him that she is going to take apart his violin. Is that another fragment of Barbier’s dialogue?”

          Yes. In a way it’s a pity that Guiraud did not use more of that poignant exchange between Crespel and Antonia for the recitative scenes he composed for HOFFMANN. Since Offenbach wound up writing the opera for the Opéra-Comique, where spoken dialogues were mandatory, he left those dialogue scenes as Barbier wanted them to be performed, i.e. spoken.

          “Are the melodramas on the Tate recording genuine Offenbach?”

          All of that music was composed by Offenbach and according to the manuscripts they were rehearsed at the Opéra-Comique before Léon Carvalho decided to completely cut the Giulietta Act from the opera. They were also published in a rare interim edition of the score by the original publisher, Choudens, as a supplement to that edition.

          “was the melodrama ending to the Giulietta act an idea that was discarded by Offenbach?”

          Scholars and researchers did not have access to the authentic Offenbach final scene of the Giulietta Act when the Tate recording was made. Carvalho, who was famous for making changes in his staging, even at the last minute, may have experimented with the solution to have the act end with Giulietta taking poison destined for Nicklausse as in the Barbier and Carré play. The répliques (text cues) written in the manuscripts indicate that they were used in rehearsals at the Opéra-Comique. But now we know that Offenbach actually composed the full final scene according to the libretto Carvalho submitted to the Parisian censors for their authorization for the opera to be performed. In that libretto, the opera is described as a “drame lyrique” and not an Opéra Fantastique.

          • derschatzgabber

            QPF, once again I am indebted to you for your knowledge of Hoffmann. Several years ago, I read that the score used in the final rehearsal for Hoffmann had been discovered in the library of the Paris Opera (I think that was the archive). Was that the source of the complete final scene of the Giulietta Act?

          • Quanto Painy Fakor

            No. It is not in that copyist’s manuscript -- a few residual passages from it, but one would have no idea about the real structure of the Giulietta Act from that score. Offenbach’s autograph manuscript of the real final scene was held back from auctions for decades.

    • peter

      The sextet is cut? How unfortunate.

      • Quanto Painy Fakor

        Did you see today’s NY Post? I passed a copy on the newstand claiming Michael Douglas developed cancer from having too much oral sex, not from smoking. Scary!

        • bobsnsane

          …not 2 worry QPF,
          The vector is poontang…
          but given that candelabra trauma
          maybe he immersed himself in
          in the roll, dunno…
          though highly unlikely.

        • armerjacquino

          Not from ‘too much’- from HPV.

        • Baltsamic Vinaigrette

          That’s right, aj. QPF, here’s a link to the interview with The Guardian’s Xan Brooks:-

          I hear the Liberace movie is very good and will be catching that, if nothing viral (please goodness), later this month.

          • Camille

            Above all, BV, the cameos of

            Rob Lowe—”not completely”—-in answer to Liberace’s question as to whether he would close his eyes after plastic surgery

            Debbie Reynolds “I’ll take a check” after winning big at her son’s inhouse casino

            Liberace/Douglas “I look like my father in ‘Hush, hush, sweet Charlotte'”, upon seeing himself on the Carson Show

            Cheyenne Jackson, without uttering a word, almost stole the show as the soon-to-be-discarded boy toy and Dan Akroyd was absolutely pitch perfect.

            and the never to be forgotten clenched teeth muttering from Scott/Damon—”There you are——you C*cks*cking Tenor F*ck”—
            which is my nominee as the perfect title for a new award winning opera block.

            The apotheosis at the end was perhaps the cherry on the sundae in his magnum opus. Not soon to be forgotten, nor bettered!

            Bring a bottle of your favourite cheerwine!



            There is a really interesting article on the actual pianist who provided the extremely skilled Liberace stylings. I’ll see if I can find it. He said his rings had to be glued to his fingers as they slid around and knocked the keys so much.

            It was actually a far better movie than I would ever have dared hope for.
            That said, still bring your cheerwine.

          • Camille
    • mj

      Yes, I was there. Loved Polenzani. His singing was beautiful and much more powerful than I recall from previous hearings. The ladies did not excite. Dessay shouldn’t be counted out yet as an opera performer, in my opinion, though I think she is miscast here. I appreciated her dramatic intensity though. I also enjoyed Angela Brower as Nicklausse, who as you mentioned, has a lot to sing in this version. I thought the production was bleak, ugly, and dull. :-(

      • mj

        Oh, and I also loved Thomas Glenn’s Spalanzani.

      • derschatzgabber

        Hi mj, I also enjoyed Brower. Did Dessay look awkward to you during the curtain call? Her solo bow was very brief and she didn’t appear to acknowlede the applause. I got the impression that she wasn’t satsified with her performance.

  • “On est [grand] par l’amour”

    I would like this piece much better if it didn’t sound so much like “Schenkt man sich Rosen im Tirol.”

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

      I’d like it even more if it did not sound like an anthem played by the Salvation Army in the 1940’s!

    • derschatzgabber

      Oops. Not very grand of me to omit “grand”.

  • Podlesmania

    Oh pétard, cette photo est moche !

  • Nerva Nelli

    The single star here would seem to me to be Polenzani… though I hope Dessay rises to Antonia.

  • oedipe

    Not from ‘too much’- from HPV.

    Yea, but to a puritanical tradition “too much oral sex” sounds WAY more dangerous than HPV.

  • amoebaguy

    There’s not much I can add to QPF’s reply to derschatzgabber’s astute comments and questions , but to note that the passage where Crespel tells Antonia that he intends to create a great violin and inscribe her name deep in its heart is indeed authentic. It can be found in original publication of the 1881 libretto, in the libretto submitted for authorization by the Parisian censors, and in the original Barbier and Carré 1851 play upon which the opera is based. It stems directly from E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story “Rath Krespel”, the primary (but not the only) source for the Antonia act. In that tale, Antonia, having willingly given up singing for her father’s sake (she is not ignorant of her illness in the story), engages in a symbiotic relationship with a “Cremona Violin,” which then acts as her voice. The “Cremona Violin” or “The Violin of Cremona” are phrases often used for the translations of Hoffmann’s tale – including the French translations Barbier and Carré would have read. When Antonia dies, the violin breaks in two. This relationship is also hinted at by Nicklausse in the glorious so-called violin aria. But, of course, as QPF has noted, none of this is in Guiraud’s recitative version of the opera.
    Interesting to hear that “Scintille diamant” is being sung in San Francisco. In all of the earlier performances of the Pelly production that I have seen or heard, Offenbach’s first version of the aria “Repands tes feus dans l’air” has been sung instead. But those performances were with Laurent Naouri as the four villains. I can only surmise that the apocryphal “Scintille diamant” might have been substituted for baritone Christian Van Horn who was probably more comfortable with the more familiar version (which only tests his mettle in that popular aria more than either of Offenbach’s real Dapertutto arias would have done). Or maybe management wanted the audience to have something they would recognize.
    Although I have no problems over which version of the diamond aria is used, I have big problems with what my dear (and I mean that sincerely) Herr Schatzgabber noted: that “the Giulietta act does not include the gambling music or the coloratura seduction aria for Giulietta”. A big, big problem. As I think I may have stated before this is the worst failing of Pelly’s production. Not only does it create irresolvable dramatic problems from the audience’s point of view, it also robs the act of some of its finest music. Giulietta loses her aria (as she does in the Guiraud versions), but

    • CruzSF

      But …?! Go on, please.

    • amoebaguy

      Sorry, some of my comment seems to have been cut off:

      Giulietta loses her aria (as she does in the Guiraud versions), butmore than that, the rest of the act, without this scene, makes no sense. If Giulietta has not successfully seduced and totally enslaved Hoffmann, why does he kill Schlemil for the key to her boudoir? Offenbach’s real Giulietta act is probably the most delicately constructed of all the opera’s acts. When one supporting pole is removed it all falls apart. Even worse, if this is the first time someone has ever heard Offenbach’s original version of this act, they may leave the theater shaking their heads in confusion. Please don’t tell me that this was necessary for reasons of length. Offenbach’s original Giulietta act, even if performed with the apocryphal “septet”, clocks in at only 37 minutes.
      Note that the press release speaks of the “newly revised libretto version assembled by Agathe Mélinand and Laurent Pelly”. Barbier’s libretto is not in want of revision. This so-called “revision” also includes something which, if it were done to any other standard repertory opera, would be unthinkable. A good deal of the sung text in the Giulietta finale has been re-written. This may seem trivial, but I consider it an insult to both Offenbach and Barbier. Would anyone get upset if I “revised” the sung text of, say, “Aida” for a major opera company? You bet they would! We must stop thinking of “Hoffmann” as Offenbach’s crippled child which needs help for it to make its way in the world – now it works, and works beautifully with no help, no meddling, no tinkering or tampering necessary. Pelly, with his diluted, castrated Giulietta act, does Offenbach and his posthumous masterpiece a great disservice.

      • CruzSF

        I’ve been looking forward to this Hoffmann, as it’s one of my favorite operas. This will be my first time seeing it live (Met HD and videos only, thus far) and I’m dismayed that it seems to be mashed up in the Giulietta act. I don’t mind when the “Scintille diamant” aria is cut, and when it’s included, I just shrug. People seem to like it, so … But reports of the rest of the act make it sound like a confusing mess. I’ll go, of course, and hope for the best. At the very least, I hope it hangs together in performance. It’s strange to me, though, that this is at least the second time in recent years that an SFO production has altered the ending of an opera, resulting in the cutting of traditionally popular set-pieces. They also cut the final sextet of Don Giovanni and ended the opera with the Don’s descent to hell. They labelled it the “Vienna version,” but scholarship seems to be undecided on whether this was truly the ending when it first appeared in that city.

        • amoebaguy

          It’s even worse in the Sher production. I hope they will revise it the next time they do it.

          • CruzSF

            That doesn’t surprise me. The Sher production was roundly panned. I did like some of the singers in it, though.

        • Quanto Painy Fakor

          On the plus side, Pelly does this quite well, but the Nicklausse is creepy.

        • derschatzgabber

          Hi CruzSF, at least the cut of the final sextet of Don Giovanni spared as a few minutes of Luisotti’s Mozart conducting. I like Luisotti in some repertory (especially Verdi), but I’m not convinced that Mozart is right for him. I will attend Cosi this summer, but warily.

          I have seen one other production that ended with the Don’s descent to hell. It doesn’t really work for me.

          • CruzSF

            I thought I could get behind that ending -- it IS dramatic -- but I found I really missed the final ensemble.

          • Quanto Painy Fakor

            Bieito to the rescue!

          • CruzSF

            Oh, I’m going to Cosi. It’s one of my favorites and Luisotti would have to work really hard to f it up to the point where I couldn’t enjoy it.

        • derschatzgabber

          Hi CruzSF, did you see this production of Cosi the last time SFO mounted it. I love Cosi, but I am hoping it is being seriosly re-directed. There is a new director this time, but I don’t know whether or not he intends to diverge from John Cox’s original concept. The opera was set during World War I, and occaisionally we saw wounded soldiers in the background of the scenes. For me, it threw off the balance of the comedy to have a real war happening off-stage, and victims of the war milling about on stage.

          • CruzSF

            Hi Derschatzgabber, I didn’t see Cosi the last time SFO performed it. Although it was only 9 years ago, it was before I attended the opera regularly. I’ve seen Cosi twice: the first time I hated it, the second production (L.A. Opera in 2011) changed my opinion completely and I’ve wanted to see it again ever since.

          • Batty Masetto

            Schatzi & Cruz -- I thought Cox’s production was an interesting attempt to address the cruelty -- or at least sour cynicism -- that’s inherent in the plot (and that has probably become an insoluble problem now that nobody sensible will put up any more with treating women as empty-headed captives of their emotions).

            Setting the action at the outset of a serious war raises the stakes for everyone, including us as an audience, where otherwise we might be inclined to laugh off the boys’ sadism. After all, they put the women they supposedly love through hell just for a bet. And it’s a bet where everybody loses. While Europe waltzes its way into an inferno, the boys thoughtlessly minuet their way into something that may not be a tragedy, but it’s definitely a very painful loss.

            And it’s not as though there weren’t laughs. I still remember that weird medical contraption of Despina’s.

            Of course, who knows what’ they’ll do with the revival since Cox isn’t directing.

          • CruzSF

            Batty, one of the things I really liked about the L.A. Opera production (Hytner originally -- I suspect other companies have staged it) is that it’s unclear at the end whether there are any winners to the bet/game. Everyone lost something, any happiness is severely tainted. That helped me make sense of the opera. The first production I ever saw played the story pretty straight and I found the whole exercise to be stupid and a waste of time.

          • laddie

            Memorable Cosi’s on video are from Lyon (which is set in the 60s) and also the Dorrie production which is also set in the 60s.

            About the the Dorrie production on his Rough and Regie blog, JJ talked about the deeper significance of the changing values about women’s roles that occurred in the 60s and how that was reflected in this production.


            The Lyon production by A. Noble was just so much fun to watch and very stylishly updated with an interesting twist at the end. It’s more like a situation comedy where two of the four end up losing out and Fiordigli and Ferrando “find” each other. Both on Youtube.

          • derschatzgabber

            Hi Batty, I sort of see where Cox was trying to go. But to me it made the joke on the women even crueler to have the men go off to a real war that the women were totally reasonable to be anxious about.

          • armerjacquino

            COSI was written at a time when there was always a war raging somewhere or other in Europe. I’ve never been in any doubt that the women believed their men were going to a ‘real’ war.

          • Regina delle fate

            Exactly Armerj -- and Mozart’s score is full of military music -“fifes”, drums and trumpets. It’s a peculiar feature of the Cosi scoring, which you only get in parts of Figaro or Don Giovanni.

          • parpignol

            Cosi fan tutte was written during the Austrian-Turkish of 1787-1791, and Mozart in Vienna was very much aware of it, even composed a military song “Beim Auszug in das Feld” (KV552); and Volkmar Braunbehrens argues that we should consider the decline in Mozart’s musical opportunities during the years preceding his death as a likely consequence of the economy in time of war. . .

          • Batty Masetto

            “Conventional” productions I’ve seen have generally treated the military theme strictly as chocolate-soldier stuff. Which to me means that when the girls get all weepy it’s just another symptom of what emotional ditzes they are. I think that throws the balance off in a whole different way. Reminders about the threat of death or severe injury do shift the perspective from what we’re generally used to but it seems an interesting and legitimate thing to do.

            For that matter, how often is Cherubino’s being shipped off to the army treated as anything but a distasteful practical joke? Even though Figaro’s words are about the misery and danger ahead of him. (Again, I’m talking about conventional productions here.) As I recall, one of the numerous objections to the Ponnelle film was that Figaro was “bullying” Cherubino in that scene because Cherubino looked really afraid.

          • Batty Masetto

            PS -- Remember when that Ponnelle “Figaro” was considered too “radical”?

          • derschatzgabber

            Hi Batty, doesn’t the Count slap the Countess in Act II of the Ponelle production (when he thinks she has Cherubino locked up in her dressing room)? I seem to recall that was considered pretty radical at the time. But I thought it helped to remind modern audiences that society gave the Count much more power than the Countess. It’s interesting how some “radical” productions end up becoming classics.

            With respect to emphasizing the military peril to the men in Cosi, I guess there are two questions. Can the military emaphsis add something to a staging and does a particular staging employee the military emphasis effectively. The Cox production just didn’t work that well for me. I preferred the Harry Kupfer production in SF in the early 90s (a production that left the final resolution of the couples ambiguous), the last outings of Ponelle’s SF production, and even the DVD of Sellar’s Cosi (even though I dislike most of Sellar’s work in the last decade or so).

            I skippped the last revival of the Cox production, but I’ll give it another shot this summer.

      • Donna Anna

        The Giulietta act as originally composed is a revelation. It’s the grotesque culmination of Hoffmann’s tales.
        We have four recordings and each has a different rendering of Giulietta’s fate, as QPF noted above. I recall reading one libretto that says she’s “damnee.”
        I wish the Carsen production (which I think is brilliant)had used more of the original score, especially for Giulietta.

        • derschatzgabber

          Hi Donna Anna, I too enjoy the Carson production, while wishing he used more echt Offenbach for the Giuletta act. On Sunday afternoon in SF, I am pretty sure I heard Polenzani sing, “Giuletta, damnee”.

    • derschatzgabber

      Hi amoebaguy, the insertion of “Scintille Diamant” isn’t the only apparent variance from the Barcelona performances. In Youtube clips (I think you posted links to them on this site), before Nicklausse sings the “guitar” aria in the Olympia act, he sings the little aria that Oeser assigned to the Muse in the epilogue. Yesterday, only the “guitar” aria was performed.

    • derschatzgabber

      Amoebaguy, thanks for the kind salutation. I am always happy to read your comments on Hoffmann and the various performing editions that are used in new productions. I hope life is treating you well in 2013 and that you have been able to continue work on your Hoffmann book. I have so many questions about Hoffmann, and I’m sure your book will answer the questions that can be answered without a clairvoyant with a link to Offenbach.

      Now that I’ve seen the latest Pelly production, my thoughts are turning to Seattle in Spring of 2014, when they will revive their most recent production. In the interim, I will see the Pelly at least 3 more times in SF. Even with the faults of the edition, it’s still Hoffmann, and Polenzani is glorious in the title role. And it’s an improvement over the edition used in the Alden production in SF in 1996 (or 1997). Although, despite the mostly Choudens edition, the Alden was very well directed. Easily the big hit of SF Opera’s year in the Civic Auditorium, while the opera house had its seismic upgrade.

      • amoebaguy

        Thank you, derschatzgabber, for your kind words and your continuing interest in my book. I undertook it for the same reasons you stated here -- I wanted to know more, I wanted to find answers to questions. It’s been a long journey since I began in 2010 and I’ve had a couple of big detours, but my work goes on. One of the big unexpected benefits of my tendency to research stuff to death is how much I’ve learned about ETA Hoffmann and his contemporaries. He was a fascinating man with a fascinating gift and there’s no wonder(to me at least)why his life and works captured the imaginations of so many creative artists in the 19th century.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Just saw that next June 2014, Sher will be staging new production of FAUST with Netrebko in Baden Baden… stands to reason that it might replace the current MET production in which nobody really wants to appear.

  • alejandro

    I really wish I were in San Francisco as the idea of Polenzani and Dessay together makes me very happy (and I want to erase the trainwreck that was that Met Traviata from my mind). I’ve seen clips of Dessay singing Antonia in the Pelly production on YouTube and I was on the edge of my seat throughout. It was as intense and dramatically engaged as her Ophelie (I’ve seen that mad scene on YouTube like 500 times) and Lucia. For someone who comes to opera from the theater (and music theater) world, watching Dessay is a godsend. So much of the acting training I received in college about how to treat elevated text and song is exemplified by her performances.

  • Avantialouie

    The ONLY sensible way to perform “Hoffmann,” it seems to me, is to do the Kaye edition straight as published, with the additions of the diamond aria and the sextet (which Kaye allows for.) The only production I know of that even attempted to do this was the one in Santa Fe. But was that production staged late enough in time to have included the finale to the Venice act that Kaye discovered and included later? Plus, I’m unclear whether the Santa Fe performances included the diamond aria and the sextet. Did they? Does anyone else know of any performances that have been “straight Kaye”?

    • amoebaguy

      I could not agree more. Yes, they did it beautifully many years ago at the Boston Lyric Opera, but that was before the authentic final scene of the Giulietta Act was recovered. Santa Fe made mincemeat out of the real finale, which I don’t understand because it was conducted by the same person who did it in Boston. The first of three different productions in Hamburg was very faithful to Kaye’s edition, as are the ongoing productions in Prague and other cities in Europe. The problem always comes when casting directors hire mezzo-sopranos to sing Giulietta, then they start mangling the Giulietta Act because mezzo-sopranos can’t cope with the original tessitura.
      One of the best performances of the Kaye edition I’ve ever heard took place in Moscow a couple of years ago. Laura Claycomb sang all four heroines and she was on fire -- I have never heard Giulietta’s aria sung better. A recent student production from the AVA was also quite good (there are You Tube videos) and I thought it was refreshingly forward looking of them to opt to do the Kaye edition -- they were on the right side of history here -- there were also very good student performances at Wolf Trap and Temple University. The fact that students are learning and performing the Kaye edition (and performing it well) gives me much hope for the future of this work.

    • laddie

      I know the sextet was done in Santa Fe. In this review which is quite thorough it mentions only Dappertutto’s aria being left out:

  • Quanto Painy Fakor