Tales of Hoffmann at Santa Fe

Since the composer died on October 5, 1880, some four months before
the premiere of his opera, the score was assembled by Ernest Guiraud who paid
more attention to the needs and desires of theater presenters than to the
presumed wishes of the dead composer.

In 1976, French conductor Antonio DeAlmeida, the leading expert in modern
Offenbach studies, discovered more than 1,250 pages of the opera’s
earliest manuscripts at the home of the composer’s relatives. The new
pages were mostly music for voice and piano dating from a period when Offenbach
was composing the title role for a baritone. Based on his extensive knowledge
of Offenbach’s life and works, DeAlmeida was able to authenticate them.
Since musicologist Michael Kaye assisted him on the preparation of his thematic
catalogue of all of Offenbach’s compositions, both he and Kaye had
unlimited access to many sources of the composer’s work.

DeAlmeida arranged for Kaye to meet the heirs of Jacques Offenbach, who
permitted him to have copies of all of the Tales of Hoffmann
manuscripts in their possession. In 1986, three hundred and fifty previously
unknown, fully orchestrated pages came to light. Kaye received permission to
publish them for the first time and started compiling a performing edition that
would be as close to Offenbach’s intentions as possible. He wanted it to
be a faithful reflection of the composer’s achievements as realized in
his posthumous masterpiece. Kaye’s goal was to reunite all the pages of
the various manuscripts that were found in public and private collections and
produce one definitive edition.

There have been several phases of Kaye’s Tales of Hoffmann
Publication Project
. There are provisional scores for opera companies. The
original dialogues have been located. Guiraud’s recitatives have been
made compatible with the recovered Offenbach music and the original dramaturgy.
That, of course, has generated various performing versions with dialogues and
recitatives. There have also been additional discoveries, including the
authentic final scene of the Giulietta Act. One of these discoveries was that
the role of Giulietta, often given to mezzo-sopranos, contained high C’s,
D’s and E-flats, which could only be sung by a soprano. Another find
contained music for Stella to sing in the last act. These and other changes
were brought to life in the new edition performed on August third.

On August 3, the Kaye edition of The Tales of Hoffmann by Jacques
Offenbach was presented at Santa Fe Opera. The imaginative production by
Christopher Alden with scenery by Allen Moyer and attractive costumes by
Constance Hoffmann underscored the dream element of the original E.T.A.
Hoffmann stories. Hoffmann was portrayed by the dependable Paul Groves who
colored his robust voice to fit each situation. Unfortunately, the soprano who
sang his love interests, Erin Wall, had noticeable difficulty negotiating her

Kate Lindsey interpreted the extensive role of The Muse/Nicklausse with a
clear, rich, lyric mezzo sound. Her ‘Violin Aria’ was particularly
affecting. Wayne Tigges was an evil villain who sang with incisive dark tonal
colors. As the servants, David Cangelosi proved to be fascinating as both
acrobat and vocalist. Surprisingly, leading mezzo Jill Groves sat in the beer
hall for ages before she finally sang the lines of Antonia’s Mother. All
the smaller parts were well sung and the orchestra, expansively conducted by
Stephen Lord, underscored the enduring delight of the French composer’s
music. It was a truly fascinating evening.

Maria Nockin

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image_description=Kate Lindsey as Nicklausse with Paul Groves as Hoffmann in the background [Photo by Ken Howard courtesy of Santa Fe Opera]
product_title=Jacques Offenbach: Tales of Hoffmann
product_by=Stella / Olympia: Erin Wall; Antonia / Giulietta: Erin Wall; Nicklausse: Kate Lindsey; Voice of Antonia’s Mother: Jill Grove; Hoffmann: Paul Groves; Spalanzani: Mark Schowalter; Lindorf / Coppelius: Wayne Tigges; Dr. Miracle / Dapertutto: Wayne Tigges; Andres / Cochenille: David Cangelosi; Frantz / Pittichinaccio: David Cangelosi; Crespel / Luther: Harold Wilson. Conductor: Stephen Lord. Director: Christopher Alden. Scenic Designer: Allen Moyer. Costume Designer: Constance Hoffman. Lighting Designer: Pat Collins.
product_id=Above: Kate Lindsey as Nicklausse with Paul Groves as Hoffmann in the background [Photo by Ken Howard courtesy of Santa Fe Opera]