[Met Performance] CID:54574
Metropolitan Opera Premiere
Les Contes d'Hoffmann {1} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 01/11/1913.

(Debut: Attilio Comelli
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
January 11, 1913 Matinee
Metropolitan Opera Premiere


LES CONTES D'HOFFMANN {1}
Jacques Offenbach-Jules Barbier

Hoffmann................Umberto Macnez
Olympia.................Frieda Hempel
Giulietta...............Olive Fremstad
Antonia.................Lucrezia Bori
Lindorf.................Basil Ruysdael
Coppélius...............Adamo Didur
Dappertutto.............Dinh Gilly
Dr. Miracle.............Léon Rothier
Nicklausse..............Jeanne Maubourg
Cochenille..............Albert Reiss
Pitichinaccio...........Angelo Badà
Frantz..................Albert Reiss
Luther..................Bernard Bégué
Nathanael...............Pietro Audisio
Hermann.................Paolo Ananian
Spalanzani..............Andrés De Segurola
Schlemil................Andrés De Segurola
Crespel.................Giulio Rossi
Mother's Voice..........Maria Duchène

Conductor...............Giorgio Polacco

Director................Jules Speck
Set designer............Burghart & Co.
Costume designer........Attilio Comelli [Debut]

Les Contes d'Hoffmann received nine performances this season.

[Alternate title: The Tales of Hoffmann.]

Review (unsigned) in The New York Times

'TALES OF HOFFMANN' HEARD HERE AGAIN

Offenbach Fantastic Opera Produced for the first time at the Metropolitan.

FRIEDA HEMPEL THE DOLL

Mme. Fremstad and Miss Bori, Messers Macnez, Didur, Gilly, and Rothier in Important Parts.

The laudable attempt of the management of the Metropolitan Opera House to vary and enlarge its repertory with operas that may be hoped to take a more or less lasting hold upon the public's approval resulted in the production there yesterday afternoon of Jacques Offenbach's fantastic opera, "Les Contes d'Hoffmann." It was not new to the operatic public, for probably many were familiar with it from the numerous performances of it that Mr. Hammerstein gave at his Manhattan Opera House after its first season. It pleased there, and there was reason to believe, after the good performance heard at the Metropolitan, that it will have its measure of success there, too.

Offenbach is said to have argued once with Col. Mapleson that his works were not half so comic as people believed; that they had their serious side. He was then trying to get "La Belle Helene" into London as a "grand opera." He did not convince Col. Mapleson then, nor the rest of the world since; but in "Les Contes d'Hoffmann" he left a proof of has capacity for more serious things. Jules Barbier's strange and ingenious libretto, a succession of three of Hoffmann's tales, strung upon the adventures of one hero, stimulated Offenbach's imagination to music that frequently has character and imagination, melody, and a beauty that is something more than the tunefulness of his burlesques. There is a suggestion of the fantastic imaginings of Hoffmann reflected in it.

The opera as it stands has only the slenderest thread of connection between the three acts; the same hero and the same friend. Hoffmann and Nicklausse, experience their various adventures, but there is no other bond. When M. Maurice Renaud enacted in each of the three acts the three characters that work the catastrophe in them, there was a sort of symbolical unity in this representation of the spirit of evil, however unlike each was to the other. This is dispensed with in the performance at the Metropolitan for Messrs. Didur, Gilly, and Rothfer in turn took the parts of the three malignants, Coppelius, Dappertutto, and Dr. Miracle. Mr. Didur gave a characteristic study of the eccentric Jewish mechanic, and Mr. Rothier was not unsuccessfui in representing the hateful and unfunny figure of the magic-mongering doctor.

Miss Frieda Hempel added to her laurels with a humorous and doll-like impersonation of the automaton, Olympia. She sang the music-box music with great skill and brilliancy, and an appropriate lack of expression. Mme. Fremstad had very little to do in the second act, and Miss Bori as Antonia, in the third, sang with much power for a consumptive, sometimes a little stridently, but gave a satisfactory version of a part not easy.

Mr. Macnez as Hoffmann had an opportunity to show that he can do better than he did as Almaviva in the recent revival of "The Barber of Seville." He is by no means a great artist yet, but his graceful tenor voice is not quite so light as he made it seem then. He sang with somewhat more fullness of tone and freedom. And he should have full credit for all there was good in his performance, for it was said to be his first appearance in this opera, and his first attempt at singing in French, Mme. Maubourg's Nicklausse was skillful in action, but in voice it left a good deal to be desired.

Polacco carried through the performance with spirit and finish. He is assuredly one of the best second conductors the Metropolitan has had in a long time. Whether the performance had, on the whole, quite all the fantastic and imaginative spirit that belongs to Offenbach's work might be questioned. But it had many excellent qualities that comended it to the public. The public was a very large one.



Costume designs for Les Contes d'Hoffmann by Attilio Comelli.
Production photos of Les Contes d'Hoffmann by White Studio (Note: Olive Fremstad was not photographed as Giulietta by White Studio. Maria Duchène, who sang the role in later performances, is the Giulietta in the photographs.



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