Offenbach - Les Contes dHoffmann (1992) (3CD Box set) FLAC
EAC rip | 3CD | FLAC - Log - Cue | Covers | Release: 1992 | 717 MBGenre: Classical | Label: DECCA
Itwould be hard to find an opera in any area of the repertory thatpresents so many textual problems as Les conies dHolfmann, largelystemming from the fact that the composer died four months before thepremiere early in 1881, leaving the score incomplete. The traditionaltext, bringing in extra material, much of it unauthentic, and leavingout a lot, was only established this century. Arthur Hammond with theCarl Rosa Company was a pioneer in attempting to sort out a moreacceptable text, and his work formed the basis of the English NationalOpera production at the Coliseum and also the Richard Bonynge recordingfor Decca. Since then the discovery of no less than 1,250 autographpages allowed Fritz Oeser to produce his monumental edition, as usedextensively in the Cambreling recording for EMI (12/88 ”nla). Thatextended the piece to Wagnerian lengths, but since then still morematerial has been uncovered, involving some 350 more manuscript pages,which have been researched by Michael Kaye to form the basis for his newedition published by Schott in 1991. Though the edition was notcomplete at the time the Dresden recording sessions were held (June1987-June 1989), this new Philips set is based on his material, aimingin Jeffrey Tates words to come as close as we can to envisage thescore and the drama that Offenbach conceived before his untimely death.
One big difference here from the complete Oeser edition, as presentedby Cambreling, is that dialogue replaces all the recitatives written byErnest Guiraud. The Bonynge text similarly replaces recitative withspoken dialogue, but this new set uses far more. As with Oeser thePrologue is more extended, showing the transformation of the Muse intoNicklausse, with extra material in the Olympia and Antonia acts too,much as the striking trio for Hoffmann, Nicklausse and Coppelius. Also,Tate points out that the Giulietta act contains music that showsconclusively that Offenbach would have wanted a single voice to embodyall of Hoffmanns female infatuations. A fascinating illustration ofthat comes in the jaunty couplets, Lamour lui dit: la belle, leadinginto exchanges and a duet reprise with Hoffmann. It is a jolly littlepiece, close in style to earlier Offenbach, which in its lightness anduse of high coloratura radically alters ones conception of thecharacter of the Venetian femme fatale. Needless to say, Cheryl Studer,has no problems here over high coloratura, but in context it does tendto take you by surprise.