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Offenbach: Les contes d'Hoffmann (1981)

Plácido Domingo , Luciana Serra , Brian Large  |  NR |  DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)

Price: $29.99 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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Product Details

  • Actors: Plácido Domingo, Luciana Serra, Agnes Baltsa, Ileana Cotrubas, Claire Powell
  • Directors: Brian Large
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Japanese
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Kultur Video
  • DVD Release Date: October 14, 2003
  • Run Time: 159 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00008DDRN
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #72,322 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Offenbach: Les contes d'Hoffmann" on IMDb

Special Features

  • In French with optional English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, or Japanese subtitles

Editorial Reviews

Seeking to exorcise the failure of his current love affair, the poet Hoffmann tells the story of his three past loves. Featuring Placido Domingo.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
107 of 109 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
There are many "editions" of this opera (Offenbach died before completing the score)and this tape offers the standard one. That is it does not use the spoken dialogue or any of the "lost" material now being included in many recordings. More damagingly to the shape of the plot, it does not show the Muse at all at the start of the Prologue, no less her transformation into Nicklausse. For better or worse, it does use four bass baritones as the four villains and four women as the four loves (even Sills could not manage all four when she tried). As one critic points out, the only Frenchman is in the pit conducting; and the French pronunciation of the cast is variable. Although the supernatural elements are not ignored in this staging, they are far less emphasized than in other productions, especially the film version with the English-language soundtrack. Domingo is in good voice and manages to create a believable title character. Claire Powell is an attractive Nicklausse with a gorgeous mezzo. Either by choice or direction, she is a concerned and often angry companion to her poetical friend. Baltsa does one sharp reaction turn too many as the Venetian siren; while Cortrubas looks properly at death's door. The men, given the more flamboyant roles make more of a dramatic impression. And the coloratura of Serra's doll is right on the mark. So all in all, this is a terrific bargain and certainly far superior to the older edition that was on two tapes and had no subtitles! By the way, the subtitles here are not too well managed. Many lines are not translated at all and many are shown well after the words have been sung. Still this is a quibble, given the value of the production as a whole. Well worth the 5 stars. And be careful about a video title "Des Contes d'Hoffmann." It is a desconstruction of the opera and might not please one who thinks he is buying the genuine article!
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54 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE BEST; A Great Production March 8, 2003
Format:DVD
I've owned the LaserDisc of this 1981 performance for many years. I've tranferred it to DVD so I could view it conveniently in a DVD changer because I'd lost hope it would ever appear commercially on DVD. The production is brilliant with great "Victorian" touches (in terms of the time period they seem to come from) in Act II; the mechanical "contraptions" are wonderful. The production is fantastic, as it should be, yet seems rooted in the late 1800's. It is also a rich, sensual Royal Opera production. Young Domingo and Baltsa are at their best. Regarding the other DVDs of the opera: Much as one can vaguely admire the Opera de Lyon "Some Tales from Hoffman", striving to be different (and very stark) destroys the opera for me. The 1978 Paris Opera production is OK if rather provincial looking (very simple sets). The 1970 Komische Oper Berlin production is actually quite good and lively, but it's sung in German. Even if the musical performances in the Royal Opera production were only OK it would be the winner, but the performances are excellent. Anyone who thinks they have even a little interest in French opera should buy this.
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58 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An exelent production July 19, 2004
Format:DVD
This is probably the best Hoffman on Video. Domingo is at his peak here, the best Hoffman I've ever heard singing the best I've heard him sing the role. Particularily good are the Ballad of Klinzach and "Amis! L'amour tendre", which is acted excellently by Domingo and features some really great buisness from Anges Balsta, Domingo and the chorus.

The conducting of Pretre is speedy, and most of the time it works, but, in some places (like the Baracolle, sung beautifully) it seems the singes can hardly keep up.

The production values are nothing short of increadable. the late John Schliesinger shows himself to be a capable operatic director, with several nice touches to the production, such as Lindorf appearing at the end of each act, mocking Hoffman and laughing. I would have prefered to see the roles acted by one man, but the seperate apperances of Lindorf do just as well. The begining of the Venice act is very impressive, with the gondolas floating ominously and the writhing orgy taking place on the banks of the cannal. The designs of Maria Bjornson and Willum Dudley utilize the three-story stage excellently, and give each setting a different feel: The tavern a place of grity reality, Paris a zany Victorian invetors lab, Venice a C.B. DeMille nightmare, and Munic the feeling of a derilict, clostrophobic mansion from hell.

The singing, other than Domingo is almost uniformally good. Luciana Serra, as Olympia is fine acting-wise and her voice is pleasent enough, but I don't like her phrasing. Balsta's Guiletta is increadeble, a real stand out. She looks terrific, too. Ileana Cortubas' Antonia sings well enough, but could act the part better. Still, you warm up to her eventually, and she is very good in the final trio.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wine, Women, and Song December 11, 2009
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
When I read a review I like to see what the writer thought was good or bad about it. So, here are my negatives and positives:

Negatives:

The quality of the picture could be better. You probably won't notice it unless you watch the DVD on a large screen TV. Hey, I'm not complaining--this was recorded in 1981, and the technology was not as good as what we've come to expect today.

They seem to have omitted at least some lines where Nicklaus tells the audience that he (she) is Hoffmann's muse. For people not familiar with this opera, this omission could lead to confusion.

Positives:

Placido Domingo is a young vibrant singer with his voice at its very best. That alone would make this a worthwhile purchase. His singing will thrill you.

For the act with the automaton doll, Olympia, the stage is filled with complicated machinery that helps pull off the idea that a mad genius-type could build such a doll. It really helps make the idea of a singing, dancing, talking doll a more believable reality.

Agnes Baltsa is a beautiful Giulietta and the scenery and costumes for her boudoir are done very well.

Costuming is rich, lavish, and varied for scenes from the tavern's raggedy Kleinzach students to the opulent lodgings of Guilietta.

Claire Powell is absolutely beautiful, in singing as well as appearance. She would be an inspiring muse for anyone. Ileana Cotrubas does likewise in her role as Antonia.

Well, there you have it: a few minor negatives and some very good positives. If you're thinking of Tales of Hoffmann, I don't know of a better performance. It has all the makings of a good time: Wine, Women, and Song.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A good gift.
I bought this for a friend and he is very pleased with it.
Published 9 days ago by Jan Hall
5.0 out of 5 stars See this one!
This is such a delightful comic opera in all ways that I am sure that I will see it again and again over time. Read more
Published 22 days ago by Robert M. Nied
5.0 out of 5 stars Great performance
All the singers met my expectations. The performance was well-paced, the sets and costumes were excellent, and in general, if this were a live performance, I'd think it was... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Roberta Scott
5.0 out of 5 stars No Problems
Item arrived on time and performed as expected. No problems. I was glad that I was able to locate and order this opera.
Published 6 months ago by Paul J.
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
We bought this to replace another Met. opera performance we'd had on tape, with Neil Shicoff, and it was nowhere as good. Though the voices are splendid, the acting is wooden. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Emerita
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful to watch
This is a beautiful production of the Tales of Hoffmann. I'm an opera novice but found it entertaining and enchanting.
Published 11 months ago by Mary F. McLoone
5.0 out of 5 stars Placido
I enjoyed this DVD very much! For me, Placido Domingo can do no wrong, he is simply wonderful, his acting supurb as is his voice. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Kate Daw
4.0 out of 5 stars Cuentos de Hoffman
Prefiero la versión de 1951 por la bailarina , no obstante es una opera esplendida y no me puedo quejar de los artistas.
Published 19 months ago by David Chaves
1.0 out of 5 stars Defective disc, inadequate cast list
The disc stops during Act II (1:12:47). After fast-forwarding, the picture and sound are out of sinc. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Elisabeth Cerda
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, but lacking in recording qualities
The performances are wonderful. The music is top notch. Unfortunately, this is an older recording that does not translate very well with more modern technology. Read more
Published on November 28, 2011 by Winmojo
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