Tate: Offenbach – Les Contes d'Hoffmann (3 CD, FLAC)
Tate: Offenbach – Les Contes d'Hoffmann (3 CD, FLAC)

Performer: Leipzig Radio Chorus
Orchestra: Dresden State Opera Orchestra
Conductor: Jeffery Tate
Composer: Jacques Offenbach
Audio CD
SPARS Code: DDD
Number of Discs: 3
Format: FLAC (image+cue)
Label: Decca
Size: 716 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

Hoffmann – Francisco Araiza
Lindorf/ Coppélius/ Dapertutto/ Miracle – Samuel Ramey
Spalanzani – Riccardo Cassinelli
Crespel – Boris Martinovitch
Peter Schlemil – Jean-Luc Chaignaud
Andrés/ Cochenille/ Pitichinaccio/ Frantz – Georges Gautier
Luther – Rolf Tomaszewski
Nathanaël – Peter Menzel
Hermann – Jürgen Hartfiel
Olympia – Eva Lind
Antonia – Jessye Norman
Giulietta – Cheryl Studer
Nicklausse/La Muse – Anne Sofie von Otter
La voix de la mère d’Antonia – Felicity Palmer

Rundfunkchor Leipzig
Staatskapelle Dresden
Conductor – Jeffrey Tate

CD 01
01. Prélude. Acte I. Introduction: Glou!…
02. La vérité, dit-on, sortait d’un puits
03. Dialogue: Allons! mes enfants, préparez cette sale!
04. Voyons: Pour Hoffmann!
05. Récit: Deux heures devant moi
06. Vive Dieu!
07. Bonjour amis!
08. Chanson et Scène: Il était une fois à la cour d’Eisenach
09. Finale: Peuh! cette bière est detestable!
10. Duo: Et par où votre diablerie
11. Je vous dis, moi, qu’un malheur me menace!
12. Entr’acte
13. Acte II. OLYMPIA. Là! charmante!
14. Allons! courage et confiance
15. Une poupée aux yeux d’émail
16. Récit et Trio: C’est moi, Coppélius
17. Je me nomme Coppélius
18. Serviteur
19. Tout est prêt
20. Choeur et Couplets: Non, aucun hôte vraiment
21. Couplets: Les oiseaux dans la charmille
22. Ah! mon ami, quel accent

CD 02
01. Scène et Romance: Ils se sont éloignés, enfin!
02. Tu me fuis?
03. Voici les valseurs
04. Acte III. ANTONIA. Entr’acte. Romance: Elle a fui, la tourterelle!
05. Dialogue: Malheureuse enfant!
06. Couplets: Jour et nuit, je me mets en quatre
07. Dialogue: Voilà ce brave Frantz
08. Romance: Vois sous l’archet frémissant
09. Dialogue: Ah! tu doutes de tout!
10. Pourtant, ô man fiancée
11. C’est une chanson d’amour
12. Dialogue: Qu’as to donc? Tu souffres?
13. Trio: Pour conjurer le danger
14. Dialogue – Mélodrame: Ne plus chater!… Voilà son arrêt!
15. Trio: Tu ne chanteras plus?
16. Ta mère? Oses-tu l’invoquer?
17. Finale: Mon enfant! Ma fille!

CD 03
01. Acte IV. GIULIETTA. Entr’acte et
02. Messieurs, silence!
03. Belle nuit, o nuit d’amour
04. Récit et Couplets: Et moi, ce n’est pas là ce qui m’enchante
05. A merveille, madame
06. Chanson: Tourne, tourne, miroir
07. Dialogue: Charmante!
08. Giulietta, palsembleu!
09. L’amour lui dit: la belle, vos yeux étaient fermés!
10. Tiens, mes cartes!
11. Morbleu!
12. Il a ma clé
13. Duo: Ton ami dit vrai
14. Romance: O Dieu, de quelle ivresse
15. Jusque là, cependant
16. Dialogue – Mélodrame: La voilà, donc
17. Acte V. STELLA. Folie! Oublie tes douleurs!
18. Dialogue: Voilà, mes amis
19. Pour le coeur du Phryné
20. Dialogue – Finale – Apothéose: Arrière, tous

A bargain release of a sterling recording.

OFFENBACH’s Les contes d’Hoffmann is among those operas with most textual problems, since the composer did not live to its premiere, leaving an incomplete score. The traditional text, bringing in extra material, much of it unauthentic, and leaving out alot, was only established in the 20th century. This Dresden recording sessions were held (June 1987-June 1989) borrowed much from Michael Kaye’s 1991 Schott Edition.
The Prologue is extended, showing the transformation of the Muse into Nicklausse, with extra material in the Olympia and Antonia acts too, much as the striking trio for Hoffmann, Nicklausse and Coppelius. Conductor Jeffrey Tate points out that “the Giulietta act contains music that shows conclusively that Offenbach would have wanted a single voice to embody all of Hoffmann’s female infatuations”. It is perhaps a pity that the logic of the project was not carried through for a single soprano for all of the heroines, as in both the Bonynge/Sutherland and the Ozawa/Gruberova (on DG) sets. Even in recent performances, French soprano Annick Massis and German soprano Diana Damrau both gave live performances (unrecorded, alas) playing all the three lovers of Hoffmann.

In this recording, the three sopranos chosen are each in turn not without weaknesses. As Antonia, Norman’s voice is a bit hefty, though her French is strong. Here, she cunningly lightens her voice, making it sound as girlish as she can, and urges the music at brisker speed in the charming duet, “C’est une chanson d’amour”. But it is still hard to imagine her as the fragile young girl destined to die. Here, one misses Elisabeth Schwarzkopf’s rendition under Cluytens, Cortrubas’ under Georges Pretre. Eva Lind is bright and clear as Olympia, if a little edgy and shallow but perfectly doll-like. She is, however, no match for Natalie Dessay in the Nagano recording. Cheryl Studer is technically very strong and confident, even if she does not quite sound in character as Giulietta, and this is the soprano probably Tate originally had in mind to encompass all the three lover characters, but some how did not materialise, as obviously Studer does encounter some problem with the high tessitura of Giulietta, not to mention Olympia’s.

Samuel Ramey sings very well in all four villainous roles, with satisfyingly firm, dark tone, but French listeners would miss Bacquier’s unsurpassed performance in the Bonynge set.

While the Cluytens set have a baritone as Hoffmann’s student Nicklausse, in this edition, as in the Nagano, Ozawa and Bonynge, has a mezzo-soprano encompassing both the Muse and Nicklausse. A young Anne Sofie von Otter pulls off this role with real aplomb, and gives the desperately wanted strength to this recording’s female singing. Indeed, it is the duets between Nicklausse and Hoffmann, sung by Francisco Araiza in radiant tone, and Nicklausse and Giulietta (the Barcarolle), that form the vocal high points in this recording.
In the title role, Araiza gives beautiful singing, but not as idiomatic as Roberto Alagna under Nagano. By comparison, Araiza has a much finer timbre than Alagna, and better articulation than Domingo under Bonynge and Pretre. His `Chanson de Kleinzach’ and the final Act `O Dieu, de quelle ivresse’ are stunningly sung, The best sung Hoffmann since Gedda.

3 Comments

  1. Didn’t know this was here; so dumped the mp3 version I had and took your flac.
    I like it much better.
    Thanks,
    Bob

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