This is the last of nearly 100 operettas created by French composer Jacques Offenbach, a native of Germany whose works were most prominent in the latter half of the nineteenth century. His three-act drama Les Contes d'Hoffmann (The Tales of Hoffmann), which includes a prologue and epilogue, recounts dramatic stories of passion, murder, and revenge. Left incomplete at the composer's death, the operetta debuted in 1881 and remains popular to this day for its many memorable melodies.
A masterpiece of French Romanticism, Les Contes d'Hoffmann embodies Offenbach's wish to transcend the limitations of his popular operettas and achieve success among the lofty heights of grand Opera. This imaginative score presents an artful blend of fantasy, emotion, and the supernatural as well as elements of satire and the grotesque. Hoffmann, the narrator and protagonist, relates three stories to his drinking companions. The tales concern Olympia, who is revealed as a mechanical doll; Antonia, a gifted vocalist in danger of singing herself to death; and Giulietta, a Venetian courtesan who uses a magic mirror to purloin others' reflections. Reproduced from an authoritative score, this edition offers musicians and music lovers a modestly priced edition of Offenbach's enduring work.