Les Contes d’Hoffmann

Teatro Regio, Friday 30 January 2009 - Sunday 8 February 2009

Compagnia di San Paolo

Synopsis

Act I

The tavern of Maître Luther. The poet Hoffmann, waiting for his beloved Stella, a singer who is engaged in a performance of Don Giovanni in the nearby theatre, agrees to narrate three of his love affairs. With him is his faithful friend Nicklausse, in reality his Muse.

Act II

(Olympia)

The sumptuous study of a physicist. Hoffmann has become a student of physics in order to frequent the laboratory of professor Spalanzani: he is in fact in love with his daughter Olympia. Olympia is in reality a mechanical doll that Spalanzani constructed with the help of Coppélius, who created the eyes. During the party to present the girl, Hoffmann doesn’t realise that he is in love with an automaton, and he declares his love to her. However, Coppélius, disappointed for having been cheated by Spalanzani (who paid him with a bill from a failed banker), destroys the doll, and only then Hoffmann discovers he was in love with an automaton.

Act III

(Antonia)

In Munich at Crespel’s house. Antonia, the daughter of the instrument maker Crespel, has a beautiful voice, but due to a mysterious illness she cannot sing: if she sings she will die. Hoffmann, who loves her, knows nothing about the curse hanging over the girl. Crespel is terrorised by the thought that his daughter might disobey him and sing, and refuses to leave her in the hands of Dr Miracle, who wants to cure her. However, Miracle returns and promises Antonia a successful career. Making the ghost of her mother appear (she was also a singer), he induces her to sing, and she dies in Hoffmann’s arms.

Act IV

(Giulietta)

In Venice, in the party gallery of a palace overlooking the Grand Canal. The courtesan Giulietta, after having stolen Schlémil’s shadow, is persuaded by Dapertutto to also capture Hoffmann’s reflection; the poet is in love with her and does not hesitate to give it to her. Schlémil is jealous of Hoffmann’s love for Giulietta and wants to prevent them from leaving together. The poet kills him, but Giulietta has tricked him and run away: Hoffmann sees her in a gondola kissing another man.

Act V

The tavern of Maître Luther. Hoffmann is drunk. The three women are only three aspects of Stella, but she has gone away with Lindorf. Only the Muse can relieve the poet’s suffering.