Offenbach - Les Contes d'Hoffmann (Jesús López-Cobos, Neil Shicoff, Bryn Terfel) [2004]

Posted By: Sowulo
Offenbach - Les Contes d'Hoffmann (Jesús López-Cobos, Neil Shicoff, Bryn Terfel) [2004]

Offenbach - Les Contes d'Hoffmann (Jesus Lopez-Cobos, Neil Shicoff, Bryn Terfel) [2004]
PAL 16:9 (720x576) | Francais (LPCM, 2 ch), (Dolby AC3, 6 ch), (DTS, 6 ch) | 173 min | 4.24 Gb+6.47 Gb (DVD5+DVD9)
Classical | Label: TDK | Sub: English, Deutsch, Francais, Espanol, Italiano | +3% Recovery

Jacques Offenbach was the composer of many operettas that satirized life in 19th century France, many of which are still popular. "Tales of Hoffman" was his last work and his only "serious" opera, and Offenbach died before completing it. This has lead to several "final" versions which is of interest primarily to musicologists.
What should interest a potential buyer of the DVD is the quality of the performance and of the disc. Happily, both are excellent.
"Tales" is a hugely melodic work, with one good melody following another. It is also a work where singing actors have the opportunity to breathe life into what can be rather wooden characters. In the case of this performance, this is exactly what happens.
The plot follows the "unhappy in love" poet Hoffman through three disasterous relationships, protected by his muse, who takes the form of his travelling companion, Nicklausse. He is beset with villainous activities from an evil guy who takes the characters of Lindorf, Copprlius, Dr. Miracle and Dapertutto, but is always the same evil presence.
Neil Shicoff plays Hoffman. He was out of mainstream opera for a while for health reasons, but sings with intensity and fine spinto tone. Although the role is vocally demanding, there is no sign of fatigue. The muse/Nicklausse is played by mezzo Susanne Mentzer, who sings beautifully and acts superbly. The villains are played by Bryn Terfel, who is simply awesome, both vocally and in acting. Hoffman's three lady friends are sung by Disiree Rancatore (Olympia B-), Ruth Ann Swenson (Antonia A+) and Beatrice Uria-Monzon (Giulietta B+). All three ladies do a good job bringing life to their roles.
The performance is truly French, being staged at the Opera National de Paris. It is a modern approach to staging that works quite well, overall. Jesus Lopez-Cobos conducts with authority and sensitivity.
The sound (DTS) and picture are simply excellent. With "Manon" (TDK) and "Romeo et Juliette" (Kultur) the basics of French opera are covered, except for "Faust". Is anyone out there listening?
If you like good opera, well performed, this disc is hard to beat.

Offenbach - Les Contes d'Hoffmann (Jesús López-Cobos, Neil Shicoff, Bryn Terfel) [2004]

Hoffmann - Neil Shicoff
Lindorf / Coppélius / Dr Miracle / Dapertutto - Bryn Terfel
Nicklaus / La Muse - Suzanne Mentzer
Olympia - Desiree Rancatore
Antonia - Ruth Ann Swenson
Giulietta - Béatrice Uria-Monzon
Andrés / Cochenille / Frantz / Pittichinaccio - Michel Sénéchal
Orchestra: Opéra de Paris
Chor: Opéra de Paris
Conductor: Jesús López-Cobos