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Offenbach: The Tales of Hoffmann [Box set]

Jacques Offenbach , Richard Bonynge , L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande , Pro Arte de Lausanne , Joan Sutherland , Plácido Domingo , André Neury , Gabriel Bacquier Audio CD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

Price: $35.74 & FREE Shipping. Details
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MP3 Music, 35 Songs, 1986 $18.99  
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Offenbach: The Tales of Hoffmann + Offenbach: The Tales of Hoffmann: Complete Opera (with full libretto and translation)
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Product Details

  • Performer: Joan Sutherland, Plácido Domingo, André Neury, Gabriel Bacquier
  • Orchestra: L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Pro Arte de Lausanne
  • Conductor: Richard Bonynge
  • Composer: Jacques Offenbach
  • Audio CD (October 25, 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Decca/London
  • ASIN: B0000041RR
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #105,196 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Les contes d'Hoffmann, opera in 4 acts: Prologue. Glou! glou! glou! je suis le vin!
2. Les contes d'Hoffmann, opera in 4 acts: Prologue. Dans les rôles d'amoureux langoureux
3. Les contes d'Hoffmann, opera in 4 acts: Prologue. Allons, allons mes enfants! Préparez cette salle
4. Les contes d'Hoffmann, opera in 4 acts: Prologue. Eh! Luther! Ma grosse tonne
5. Les contes d'Hoffmann, opera in 4 acts: Prologue. Il était une fois à la cour d'Eisenach
6. Les contes d'Hoffmann, opera in 4 acts: Prologue. Peuh! cette biÃ est détestable!
7. Les contes d'Hoffmann, opera in 4 acts: Prologue. Et par où votre diablerie
8. Les contes d'Hoffmann, opera in 4 acts: Prologue. Entr'acte
9. Les contes d'Hoffmann, opera in 4 acts: Act 1. Allons! Courage et confiance
10. Les contes d'Hoffmann, opera in 4 acts: Act 1. Pardieu! J'étais bien sûr de te trouver ici!
See all 19 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Les contes d'Hoffmann, opera in 4 acts: Act 2. Scintille, diamant
2. Les contes d'Hoffmann, opera in 4 acts: Act 2. A nous trois, mes maîtres!
3. Les contes d'Hoffmann, opera in 4 acts: Act 2. Malheureux, tu ne comprends donc pas
4. Les contes d'Hoffmann, opera in 4 acts: Act 2. Que vais-je faire? Quel est ce breuvage?
5. Les contes d'Hoffmann, opera in 4 acts: Act 3. Elle a fui, la touterelle
6. Les contes d'Hoffmann, opera in 4 acts: Act 3. Jour et nuit je me mets en quatre
7. Les contes d'Hoffmann, opera in 4 acts: Act 3. C'est une chanson d'amour qui s'envole
8. Les contes d'Hoffmann, opera in 4 acts: Act 3. Que veux-tu faire?
9. Les contes d'Hoffmann, opera in 4 acts: Act 3. Tu ne chanteras plus... sais-tu quel sacrifice
10. Les contes d'Hoffmann, opera in 4 acts: Act 3. Intermède-Entr'acte
See all 15 tracks on this disc

Editorial Reviews

This is the first of many recordings that attempts to return this opera--which the composer left unfinished at his death--to something more in line with what he envisioned. While it may work in the theater, it seems fitful on record, particularly with spoken dialogue. The cast, with Plácido Domingo in the title role and Joan Sutherland playing all three heroines in the flashbacks, has long made this recording a first-choice Hoffmann among some critics. But Domingo lacks the ideal vocal elegance, and having three different personalities as the heroines can be much more interesting. This recording does have some famous French character singers in its favor--Hugues Cuénod and Gabriel Bacquier--but this may be mostly for Sutherland fans. --David Patrick Stearns

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive recording of Offenbach's masterpiece January 12, 2000
Format:Audio CD
Domingo, Sutherland, Bacquier and Tourangeau star in this lively and very French recording of "Hoffmann". Richard Bonynge, the conductor, follows what he considered at the time to be the most "Offenbach-ish" version of the opera, one in which a little new music is added, other music is cleaned up, other music left alone and the recitatives cut out all together. The cast is entirely French except for Domingo and Sutherland, so it is a delightful experience to hear Frenchies speak French in true Opera-Comique style.
Domingo as Hoffmann leaves nothing to be desired. He was quite young when this recording was made, and has no trouble at all with the high tessitura of the part. He sings here as I have rarely heard him sing before and with such careful attention to the music and his role that he makes Hoffmann come alive -- something I have not witnessed any other Hoffmann to do.
Sutherland, singing the four heroines, tackles an extremely difficult part with her trademark agility. Nothing seems too difficult for her: her coloratura passages as Olympia shimmer and sparkle in the midst of their preciseness, and she sings Giulietta, the courtesan, with powerful conviction.
However, I believe it is in the "Antonia" act that she sings the best. The quality of the music in this act is far above the others, for some reason, and Sutherland takes advantage of this at every moment. Every note is a polished jewel; intengrity, musicality and convicted singing blend beautifully and effortlessly. She *becomes* Antonia, and sings the highly complex passages as if it were no more difficult than rolling out of bed.
Gabriel Bacquier as the four villians, and Hugette Tourangeau as Nicklausse/The Muse are perfectly casted in their roles. Tourangeau was especially good.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bonynge reconstructs Offenbach's swan song. May 12, 1999
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
This recording is Bonynge's attempt at a reconstruction of Offenbach's uncompleted swan song. While recent discoveries have rendered this edition obsolete, it remains a truly beautiful recording. I personally prefer 1 soprano as the 4 heroines to mirror the baritone as the 4 villains (why have one without the structural & psychological strength of the other?) Sutherland is at the top of her form here. I have always loved the breathless abandon she brings to the 'Antonia' act trio. Most amazing is her dialogue delivery, for those who insist she cannot act. Domingo is likewise exellent, there is true passion in his readings and his voice had that youthful luster. Bacquier is stunning in his 4 characterizations, all different and beautifully rendered. The dialogue was excellently coached and rips along at a breakneck pace. I much prefer this to the endlessly dull recitatives of the Choudens edition. I have heard many Hoffman's over the years, including the recent and more accurate reconstructions, but this recording remains my favorite. (However, I also recommend the recent recording with Alagana.)
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic that doesn't disappoint... November 28, 2000
By Andre
Format:Audio CD
Especially with Maestro Bonynge's willingness to delve into the history books and records, and sort through the years of abuse Offenbach's only opera went through(all the others...Orphée aux Enfers, La Périchole and the like were operettas). The reason for all the mixup, and the need to find the REAL Contes d'Hoffmann was due to the fact that the composer wasn't there to see his precious opera performed(he died a few months before opening night). In fact, he was only able to create an orchestrated version of the prologue and first act, and a piano score to the rest of the opera, that was later carefully developed according to Offenbach's dream. However, due to many cuts and edits of stage directors and people's tastes-of-the-day, but mainly the director of the Opéra-Comique, Carvalho, the entire score was worked over to form other people's wants. Not the views of poor Offenbach who couldn't defend his opera.
Enough of my babbling though, the half-inch libretto/booklet will tell you all about Offenbach's life, this work, and Bonynge's work with it. And not to mention it's in German, French, and English. So is the libretto.
As for the recording itself, it's considered a classic. And rightfully so, because Bonynge has made wise decisions with the score, whether big or small, to create the most pleasing and entertaining version of the opera, while correcting some of the long-adhered amendments people had made along the way. The main reason I was attracted to this recording was my love of Dame Joan Sutherland though. I knew that this was an opera that absolutely showcased a soprano and all her abilities... drama, coloratura, and ultimately a beautiful voice. And who better at the time to choose than La Stupenda?
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FANTASTIC! March 19, 2003
By Visa
Format:Audio CD
I can`t think of any other records of this enthralling opera by Offenbach, that is, in its ENTIRETY, better than this version. It has it all: beauty, humor,drama etc. And this is comming out in such a brilliant way here, so you`ll get totaly thrilled.
Especially Domingo is enormous, maybe unsurpassed in this role and Sutherland unbelievable in all her different characters.
Go for it!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars essential recording June 30, 2003
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
This Hoffman is my favorite French opera. It features two of the greatest singers in their divine prime, Sutherland and Domingo. Wow, what a glorious sound they make. And what a tour de force they manage to accomplish.
The Sill's version is also very good. But it is tame next to this one. The singing is just not nearly as glorious. Compare Sill's Olympia especially is evidence that she is not nearly the quintessential coloratura as Sutherland. Sutherland's "Doll Song" is amazing. Its display of coloratura is unprecedented and incomparable. Domingo's vocal splendor is equally phenomenal.
This is an essential recording. No opera collection is complete without it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars For Me The Finest Tales of Hoffmann
Years ago while living in Minneapolis I heard portions of this recording played because the Met was bring the Tales of Hoffmann to Northrop Auditorium on the U of M campus. Read more
Published 11 months ago by T. E. Layman
3.0 out of 5 stars should be better
This is a strange and engaging piece, and this is, so far, the only version I know. I'm not totally happy with some aspects of it. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Stanley Crowe
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Performance
I usually do not like French operas with the same enthusiasm as Italian operas, because of the nasal sound. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Lorenzo
5.0 out of 5 stars Good production of Offenbach's Tales of Hoffman
If you're looking for just background music, then you may find this album a little jarring at times because of the occasional laughter. Read more
Published 23 months ago by RH Hope
5.0 out of 5 stars A magnificent recording
Although there are several recordings of Les Contes d'Hoffmann in the catalogue, and I don't claim to have heard even a representative sample, I doubt few of them surpass this... Read more
Published on June 8, 2012 by G.D.
5.0 out of 5 stars Offenbach: Les Contes d'Hoffmann/The Tales of Hoffmann
Excellent clearly sound.
"manual: contain three language version (English, German, French) subtitle for listening and understanding story If you cannot understand French (or... Read more
Published on September 30, 2011 by Darkmoor
4.0 out of 5 stars A good first choice, but ....
This recording has its merits but there is no ideal Hoffmann. Here I must venture into treacherous waters because this will involve criticism of La Stupenda and she has an army of... Read more
Published on November 26, 2010 by Garry Feeney
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fine Hoffman...
First, I'd like to correct something said by a previous reviewer. This recording was made in August 1971, not 1976. Read more
Published on January 24, 2007 by Indiana Opera Buff
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice try, but . . .
Source: Studio recording made at Victoria Hall, Geneva, in 1971 and first published in 1972. The digital mastering dates from 1986. Read more
Published on April 4, 2006 by L. E. Cantrell
4.0 out of 5 stars A good recording, but not the best
This is a good recording of The Tales of Hoffman. Domingo gives a very good performance in this recording, his French much finer than in his Bizet Carmen recording. Read more
Published on February 3, 2005 by The Cultural Observer
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