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on 23 June 2017
Hoffman lends itself to many interpretations, this is my seventh if you include one from the met on sky arts. What tempted me was Kathleen Kim and Natalie Dessay. I am not disappointed. The staging is most innovative with stage proportions altering before ones eyes, props and scenery change in most interesting ways, rooms switch, staircases come and go, and projected backdrops add atmosphere from time to time. The general background is black or dark colours, as are many of the costumes.
The costumes are period, top hats and tails are in evidence and the ladies in long dresses in subdued colours.
what of the artists, well my favourite is Kathleen Kim as Olympia, great voice, acts the part well and what she does on stage with a little help from effects has to be seen to be believed.
Natalie Dessay sings sings passionately, tenderly as required and the whole presentation of Antonia is the best of all my recordings.It is very well done.
Michael Spires is an adequate Hoffman, sings well but is rather constrained compared with some interpretations.
Lindorf and his alter egos are sung and played by Laurent Naouri, a rich voiced baritone with hints of menace and occasionally restrained glee, He uses the same costume throughout. Does a first class job.
Francisco Vas is worthy of mention, a man of many parts, but does an excellent jo of "Franz" aria in Antonia
Michelle Losier is a pretty good muse and plays a good chap as Nicklause
Without going into further detail other scenes as the bar in the prologue and Giuletta are up to standard, but are bettered in other versions.
Overall this is a welcome addition to my library and is well worth the money. It will get many an airing.
The colourful insert is rather disappointing with just cast lists and credits, a minor point really.
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on 31 January 2014
I've seen this production "live" as it is a share with the San Francisco Opera and Lyon. It comes across much better in the theatre than on video. The performers here are wonderful but the quality of the video is terrible. The color is all washed out. It looks like what you might see from a low budget movie from the 1960's or a film with very faded color. You can tell immediately with the view of the audience before the performance starts that there is something very wrong. There is no excuse for the poor quality of transfer. I have a copy of this performance when it was televised in Europe and the video quality is excellent. The only reason I am keeping this is for the English titles. My televised copy has French titles.

However, the end result is that this is definitely worth having - not only for the wonderful performance but for the "new" edition which I found to be very effective.
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on 20 February 2014
I have always had mixed views about Laurent Pelley productions. Some work well and some kind of work. The man always seems to be obsessed with back stage machinery both real and imaginary. To my mind to strip any theatre bare and show back wall and emergency exits completely kills all the magic of the stage.
Here again we were subject to some of this mingled with some weird Psychology. Scene one of the story should give the heady atmosphere of a beer and wine sodden students drinking cellar. In this production it looked more like a waiting room at your local Psychiatric clinic. Again as is often the normal these days we had a near static chorus with no acting ability or credit. Why do so many Operas these days kill the action ? Surely a concert performance would serve just as well but I digress!
So many shades of grey, pealing wall paper and the twilight shading. I did so much enjoy, without any doubt, the mechanical doll scenes which really lifted the performance from its gloom. The nutty press scientist critics also enlivened those scenes. The Antonia scenes ( pealing wallpaper) Were ,as they should be, very claustrophobic and opposing. Moving staircases? - Harry Potter springs to mind! again use of stage machinery. In the final Venice scenes Floating sofas not gondolas???
Fortunately all the character parts were so perfect and saved the whole show for me. Particularly the menacing villain in all his anti - hero guises. A real nightmare character perhaps more sinister than was called for at times. The Tenor lead was suitably pathetic and all the three leading ladies were excellent portrayals. The trouser role was also satisfying in his/her protective and suffering devotion to Hoffman.
I am open minded in my appraisal of the production to my own personal tastes and this is a very complicated Opera to understand and there is no doubt it has many psychological issues to consider so maybe others wont share my view. Offenbach gave us so much comedy all through his life so maybe we are meant to look deeper into the inner world of this adorable clown in his final work for the stage. Maybe we are all missing something or are we looking to deeply?
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on 6 June 2013
Not great singing or production in this spanish version of offenbachs operatic epic
the tenor is pudgy and strained vocally by this taxing role . he is also made to play it as a hunchback (why!!!!)
because he mentions one in a song in the prologue ???? Directorally dim. not lavish and the oldest doll ive seeen for many
a year even though her ornamentation is interesting and at least sees trying. Gave up after Act 2 spose ill get around to
act 3 and the epilogue sometime disappointing.
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on 11 January 2014
This is a revue of Les Contes d'Hoffman by the Gran Teatre del Liceu from 2014 starring Natalie Dessay, Laurent Naouri and Michele Losier among others.

Because Offenbach died before fully completing Les Contes d'Hoffman there are a lot of different versions around and this was one that I hadn't seen before which made it particularly interesting. There were several numbers I had not heard before. This was clearly the version Powel and Pressburger had based there film version on (although they cut a good hour of material and changed things around quite a lot).

My only real complaint of the performance was that the staging was a little plain - presumably because of the many fairly rapid scene changes that were needed. Everything else was excellent.
There was a big cast all of whom were at least good. Of the bigger roles Natalie Dessay (Antonia), Laurent Naouri (Lindorf, Dapertutto etc.) and Michele Losier (Nicklausse) stood out as particularly good and Kathleen Kim (Olympia) was excellent in a small but very difficult role. Both Stephane Deneve and the Liceu orchestra were first rate.

Video and Sound were very good and the video editing (which must have been quite difficult in some of the scenes) was excellent.
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on 15 August 2015
i bought this because it featured Natalie Dessay as Antonia, and I was not disappointed. Giulietta and Nicjklause were also excellent, thoug I was a little disappointed by Kathleen Kim as Olympia. THough, having seen Natalie as three different incarnationsof the role, and also Nadine Koutcher's ole-dance version, it was ahard act to follow.
Nevertheless, an excellent version of Hoffmann.
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on 4 October 2014
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