This is the first of many recordings that attempts to return this opera–which the composer left unfinished at his death–to something more in line with what he envisioned. While it may work in the theater, it seems fitful on record, particularly with spoken dialogue. The cast, with Plácido Domingo in the title role and Joan Sutherland playing all four heroines, has long made this recording a first-choice Hoffmann among some critics.
# Composer: Jaques Offenbach
# Performer: Joan Sutherland, Gabriel Bacquier, Huguette Tourangeau, Margarita Lilova, Paul Plishka, Placido Domingo
# Orchestra: L’Orchestre De La Suisse Romande
# Conductor: Richard Bonynge
# Vinyl (1972)
# Number of Discs: 3
# Format: Flac
# Label: Decca
# DR-Analysis: DR 14
# ASIN: B0000041RR
# Size: 2.88 GB
# Scan: yes
# Server: FileFactory
Especially with Maestro Bonynge’s willingness to delve into the history books and records, and sort through the years of abuse Offenbach’s only opera went through(all the others…Orphée aux Enfers, La Périchole and the like were operettas). The reason for all the mixup, and the need to find the REAL Contes d’Hoffmann was due to the fact that the composer wasn’t there to see his precious opera performed(he died a few months before opening night). In fact, he was only able to create an orchestrated version of the prologue and first act, and a piano score to the rest of the opera, that was later carefully developed according to Offenbach’s dream. However, due to many cuts and edits of stage directors and people’s tastes-of-the-day, but mainly the director of the Opéra-Comique, Carvalho, the entire score was worked over to form other people’s wants. Not the views of poor Offenbach who couldn’t defend his opera.
Enough of my babbling though, the half-inch libretto/booklet will tell you all about Offenbach’s life, this work, and Bonynge’s work with it. And not to mention it’s in German, French, and English. So is the libretto.
As for the recording itself, it’s considered a classic. And rightfully so, because Bonynge has made wise decisions with the score, whether big or small, to create the most pleasing and entertaining version of the opera, while correcting some of the long-adhered amendments people had made along the way. The main reason I was attracted to this recording was my love of Dame Joan Sutherland though. I knew that this was an opera that absolutely showcased a soprano and all her abilities… drama, coloratura, and ultimately a beautiful voice. And who better at the time to choose than La Stupenda?
All the other performers do such a great job in their roles, especially Gabriel Bacquier. He’s vengeful, nasty, and downright sinister… I enjoyed his playing of the four villains very much. Huguette Tourangeau does a wonderful job playing La Muse and Nicklausse as well. Almost all the rest of the supporting cast is French as well, and makes for a truly French performance, except… for the man playing Hoffmann himself, Placido Domingo. I’m sorry, but just as with the great Pavarotti, the Italian just butchers the French. But besides the repugnant diction, Domingo IS Hoffman. Tragically fated by the stars be a forelorn and unlucky lover. And this comes from a person who really doesn’t like Domingo at all. I actually found myself liking him here.
And of course, Bonynge doesn’t disappoint as a conductor. There are operas that he’s conducted where people think he just didn’t quite get it right. But here, other people agree with me, that he conducts excellently. Overall, the best out there at the time it was created.
The best competition to this version is the new Nagano version with restorations galore. Yet still more clues are being unearthed, and there is probably more repairing of the score to be done. And this version uses four different ladies, which takes away some of the uniqueness and greatness of this opera. I think it’s best to wait around for another version that hopefully will encompass all of Offenbach’s intentions for the opera(I’m hoping it will be with Bonynge and maybe Sumi Jo as the four ladies). For now though, this is in my opinion the best version available, with a great cast all singing their best.
|A||Prologue: “Glou, Glou”|
|A2||Entr’acte And Act 1 (Pt. 1) “La, Encore Cette Boucie”|
|B1||Act 1 (Conclusion) ; “Ah ! Mon Ami, Quel Accent !|
|B2||Act 2 (Pt. 1); “Belle Nuit, O Nuit D’amour”|
|C||Act 2 (Conclusion) “Eh Bien ! Etes-Vous Content De Moi, Monseigneur?”|
|D||Entr’acte & Act 3 (Pt. 1); “Elle A Fui, La Touterelle”|
|E||Act 3 (Pt. 2); “Malheureuse Enfant ! “|
|F1||Act 4 (Concl,); “Tu Ne Chanteras Plus?”|
|F2||Intermede (Barcarolle), Entr’acte & Epilogue; “Voila, Mes Amis”|
Analyzed folder: /96k Offenbach – Hoffmanns Erzaehlungen – Sutherland, Domingo, Baquier
DR Peak RMS Filename
DR15 -0.46 dB -20.12 dB SideA.wav
DR14 -1.13 dB -21.00 dB SideB.wav
DR13 -0.07 dB -19.22 dB SideC.wav
DR12 -0.45 dB -18.88 dB SideD.wav
DR15 -0.31 dB -21.23 dB SideE.wav
DR12 -0.62 dB -18.15 dB SideF.wav
Number of files: 6
Official DR value: DR14
- Baritone Vocals – Gabriel Bacquier
- Bass Vocals – Paul Plishka
- Choir – Chorale Du Brassus, Radio Choeur Pro Arte De Lausanne
- Composed By – Jacques Offenbach
- Conductor – Richard Bonynge
- Mezzo-soprano Vocals – Huguette Tourangeau, Margarita Lilova
- Orchestra – L’Orchestre De La Suisse Romande
- Soprano Vocals – Joan Sutherland
- Tenor Vocals – Placido Domingo
- Vocals – Hugues Cuénod
- Voice Actor – Jacques Charon
- RCM: Okki Nokki
- TT: Clearaudio Champion Level II
- Cartridge: Sumiko Black Bird
- Phono amp: Pro-Ject Phono Box RS
- ADC/DAC: RME Fireface UC
- Pre Amp: Unison Research Unico Pre (Tube)
- Finals: Opera Consonance 9.9 Mono (Tube)
- Speakers: Dali Helikon 400
- Connections: MIT Terminator, Audioquest Emerald, Audioquest Quartz
- Software: iZotope RX Advanced v2.02, Adobe Audition CS 5.5, Twisted Wave 1.9
- Light de-Clicking with iZotope, significant clicks manually removing, no De-Noising
If You hear some clicks and pops here and there, Who cares?
Id rather have a few light anomalies instead of destroying the music. Enjoy the music, not the ticks & pops.
- DR-Analisys before converting to Flac
- Converting Wave -> Flac: Twisted Wave 1.9
- Artwork: Sony Alpha 350, Epson Perfection V750 Pro, Photoshop CS 5.5
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