German-born French composer Jacques Offenbach is remembered for his nearly 100 operettas of the 1850s–1870s and his uncompleted opera, The Tales Of Hoffmann. Part of the standard opera repertoire, Offenbach’s masterpiece is now also published as a ‘G. Schirmer Opera Score Edition’, for Voices with Piano accompaniment.
A monument to E.T.A. Hoffmann, this opera fantastique in three acts, prologue and epilogue combines three of his grotesque tales moulded into a creative and provocative dramatic entity. The librettist Jules Barbier and Michel Carré chose Hoffmann as the hero of the famous musical fantasy, adding the erratic essence of the author himself to the stories. Hoffman becomes the narrator and the main protagonist at the same time, as he tells the three stories – The Sandman, The Lost Reflection in the Mirror and Councillor Krespel – of his three loves.
In setting the superb libretto to music, Offenbach raced against time, and finally lost – dying only four months before the opening, with the manuscript in his hand. The opera was an immediate success and saw 101 nights of performance in its opening year in Paris, with subsequent premieres all over the world – Geneva, Budapest, Berlin, London, New York, Mexico, Buenos Aires and many more.