Zurich Opera House tickets 1 July 2025 - Les Contes d’Hoffmann | GoComGo.com

Les Contes d’Hoffmann

Zurich Opera House, Zurich, Switzerland
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7:30 PM
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US$ 147

E-tickets: Print at home or at the box office of the event if so specified. You will find more information in your booking confirmation email.

You can only select the category, and not the exact seats.
If you order 2 or 3 tickets: your seats will be next to each other.
If you order 4 or more tickets: your seats will be next to each other, or, if this is not possible, we will provide a combination of groups of seats (at least in pairs, for example 2+2 or 2+3).

Important Info
Type: Opera
City: Zurich, Switzerland
Starts at: 19:30
Acts: 5
Intervals: 2
Duration: 3h 30min
Sung in: French
Titles in: German,English

E-tickets: Print at home or at the box office of the event if so specified. You will find more information in your booking confirmation email.

You can only select the category, and not the exact seats.
If you order 2 or 3 tickets: your seats will be next to each other.
If you order 4 or more tickets: your seats will be next to each other, or, if this is not possible, we will provide a combination of groups of seats (at least in pairs, for example 2+2 or 2+3).

Overview

The premiere of this staging by Andreas Homoki took place online in the spring of 2021, due to coronavirus pandemic; this season the production finally bows on stage before an audience. Saimir Pirgu made a convincing debut in the title role, and he returns as Hoffmann in this revival. As at the premiere, Italian conductor Antonino Fogliani is at the podium of the Philharmonia Zürich.

In his final opera, Jacques Offenbach made E.T.A. Hoffmann, the most famous poet of the Romantic period, into his main character. The poet explores the threshold between reality and fantasy in a fascinating way in his magical-surreal tales. The opera masterfully combines operetta, sentimental opéra comique and romantic-fantastic opera. Original melodic inventions merge with gripping drama and, of course, Offenbach’s subtle irony interrupts his main character’s rapturous states.

Hoffmann, the poet, is torn between art and life, love and fantasy, dream and reality. His love for Stella, the singer, remains unrequited, and he takes refuge in alcohol and the world of his imagination. Over the course of a wine-soaked evening, he tells his friends of three fantastical love affairs. Olympia, the immaculate beauty he fell head over heels in love with – only to discover that the woman he so desperately wanted was a doll. Antonia, who was consumed by feverish song and died in Hoffmann’s arms. And Giulietta, the Venetian courtesan, who swore him undying love and seduced him, all with the singular goal of stealing his reflection. Each time, Hoffmann failed – himself, in love, and against his diabolical adversary.

History
Premiere of this production: 10 February 1881, Opéra-Comique, Paris

Les Contes d'Hoffmann (The Tales of Hoffmann) is an opéra fantastique by Jacques Offenbach. The French libretto was written by Jules Barbier, based on three short stories by E. T. A. Hoffmann, who is the protagonist of the story. It was Offenbach's final work; he died in October 1880, four months before the premiere.

Synopsis

Prologue

A tavern in Nuremberg: The Muse appears and reveals to the audience her purpose is to draw Hoffmann's attention, and make him abjure all other loves, so he can be devoted to her: poetry. She takes the appearance of Hoffmann's closest friend, Nicklausse. The prima donna Stella, performing Mozart's Don Giovanni, sends a letter to Hoffmann, requesting a meeting in her dressing room after the performance. The letter and the key to the room are intercepted by Councillor Lindorf ("Dans les rôles d'amoureux langoureux" – In the languid lovers' roles), the first of the opera's incarnations of evil, Hoffmann's nemesis. Lindorf intends to replace Hoffmann at the rendezvous. In the tavern, students wait for Hoffmann. He finally arrives, and entertains them with the legend of Kleinzach the dwarf ("Il était une fois à la cour d'Eisenach" – Once upon a time at the court of Eisenach). Lindorf coaxes Hoffmann into telling the audience about his three great loves.

Act 1 (Olympia)

This act is based on a portion of "Der Sandmann" (The Sandman).

Hoffmann's first love is Olympia, an automaton created by the scientist Spalanzani. Hoffmann falls in love with her, not knowing Olympia is a mechanical doll ("Allons! Courage et confiance...Ah! vivre deux!" – Come on! Courage and confidence ... Ah! to live!). To warn Hoffmann, Nicklausse, possessing the truth about Olympia, sings a story of a mechanical doll with the appearance of a human, but Hoffmann ignores him ("Une poupée aux yeux d'émail" – A doll with enamel eyes). Coppélius, Olympia's co-creator and this act's incarnation of Nemesis, sells Hoffmann magic glasses to make Olympia appear as a real woman ("J'ai des yeux" – I have eyes).

Olympia sings one of the opera's most-famous arias, "Les oiseaux dans la charmille" (The birds in the arbor, nicknamed "The Doll Song"), during which she runs-down and needs to be wound-up before she can continue. Hoffmann is tricked into believing his affections are returned, to the bemusement of Nicklausse, subtly attempting to warn his friend ("Voyez-la sous son éventail" – See her under her fan). While dancing with Olympia, Hoffmann falls on the ground and his glasses break. At the same time, Coppélius appears, tearing Olympia apart to retaliate against Spalanzani after cheating him of his fees. With the crowd ridiculing him, Hoffmann realizes he loved an automaton.

Act 2 (Antonia)

This act is based on "Rath Krespel".

After a long search, Hoffmann finds the house where Crespel and his daughter Antonia are hiding. Hoffmann and Antonia loved each other, but were separated after Crespel decided to hide his daughter from Hoffmann. Antonia inherited her mother's talent for singing, but her father forbids her to sing because of her mysterious illness. Antonia wishes her lover would return to her ("Elle a fui, la tourterelle" – "She fled, the dove"). Her father also forbids her to see Hoffmann, encourages Antonia in her musical career, and therefore, endangers her without knowing it. Crespel tells Frantz, his servant, to stay with his daughter, and after Crespel leaves, Frantz sings a comical song about his talents "Jour et nuit je me mets en quatre" – "Day and night, I quarter my mind."

After Crespel leaves his house, Hoffmann takes advantage of the occasion to sneak in, and the lovers are re-united (love duet: "C'est une chanson d'amour" – "It's a love song"). After Crespel returns, he receives a visit from Dr Miracle, the act's Nemesis, forcing Crespel to let him heal her. Eavesdropping, Hoffmann learns Antonia may die if she sings too much. He returns to her boudoir, and makes her promise to give up her artistic-dreams. Antonia reluctantly accepts her lover's will. After she is alone, Dr Miracle enters Antonia's boudoir to persuade her to sing and follow her mother's path to glory, stating Hoffmann is sacrificing her to his brutishness, and loves her only for her beauty. With mystic powers, he raises a vision of Antonia's dead mother and induces Antonia to sing, causing her death. Crespel arrives just in time to witness his daughter's last breath. Hoffmann enters, and Crespel wants to kill him, thinking he is responsible for his daughter's death. Nicklausse saves his friend from the old man's vengeance.

Act 3 (Giulietta)

This act is loosely-based on Die Abenteuer der Silvester-Nacht (A New Year's Eve Adventure).

Venice. The act opens with the barcarolle "Belle nuit, ô nuit d'amour" – "Beautiful night, oh night of love". Hoffmann falls in love with the courtesan Giulietta, and thinks she returns his affections ("Amis, l'amour tendre et rêveur" – "Friends, tender and dreamy love"). Giulietta is not in love with Hoffmann, but seducing him under the orders of Captain Dapertutto, promising to give her a diamond if she steals Hoffmann's reflection from a mirror ("Scintille, diamant" – "Sparkle, diamond"). The jealous Schlemil (cf. Peter Schlemihl for a literary antecedent), a previous victim of Giulietta and Dapertutto (he gave Giulietta his shadow), challenges the poet to a duel, but is killed. Nicklausse wants to take Hoffmann away from Venice, and goes looking for horses. Meanwhile, Hoffmann meets Giulietta, and cannot resist her ("O Dieu! de quelle ivresse" – "O God! of what intoxication"): he gives her his reflection, only to be abandoned by the courtesan, to Dapertutto's great pleasure. Hoffmann tells Dapertutto his friend Nicklausse will come and save him. Dapertutto prepares a poison to get rid of Nicklausse, but Giulietta drinks it by mistake, dropping dead in the poet's arms.

Epilogue

The tavern in Nuremberg: Hoffmann, drunk, swears he will never love again, and explains Olympia, Antonia, and Giulietta are three facets of the same person, Stella. They represent, respectively, the young girl's, the musician's, and the courtesan's side of the prima donna. After Hoffmann says he doesn't want to love any more, Nicklausse reveals she is the Muse and reclaims Hoffmann: "Be reborn a poet! I love you, Hoffmann! Be mine!" – "Renaîtra un poète! Je t'aime, Hoffmann! Sois à moi!" The magic of poetry reaches Hoffmann as he sings "O Dieu! de quelle ivresse – "O God! of what intoxication" once more, ending with "Muse, whom I love, I am yours!" – "Muse que j'aime, je suis à toi!" At this moment, Stella, tired of waiting for Hoffmann to come to her rendezvous, enters the tavern and finds him drunk. The poet tells her to leave ("Farewell, I will not follow you, phantom, spectre of the past" – "Adieu, je ne vais pas vous suivre, fantôme, spectre du passé"), and Lindorf, waiting in the shadows, comes forth. Nicklausse explains to Stella that Hoffmann does not love her anymore, but Councillor Lindorf is waiting for her. Some students enter the room for more drinking, while Stella and Lindorf leave together.

Venue Info

Zurich Opera House - Zurich
Location   Sechseläutenplatz 1

Zürich Opera House is a main opera house in Zürich and Switzerland. Located at the Sechseläutenplatz, it has been the home of the Zürich Opera since 1891, and also houses the Bernhard-Theater Zürich. It is also home to the Zürich Ballet. The Opera House also holds concerts by its Philharmonia orchestra, matinees, Lieder evenings and events for children. The Zürich Opera Ball is organised every year in March, and is usually attended by prominent names.

The first permanent theatre, the Aktientheater, was built in 1834 and it became the focus of Richard Wagner’s activities during his period of exile from Germany.

The Aktientheater burnt down in 1890. The new Stadttheater Zürich (municipal theatre) was built by the Viennese architects Fellner & Helmer, who changed their previous design for the theatre in Wiesbaden only slightly. It was opened in 1891. It was the city's main performance space for drama, opera, and musical events until 1925, when it was renamed Opernhaus Zürich and a separate theatre for plays was built: The Bernhard Theater opened in 1941, in May 1981 the Esplanada building was demolished, and the present adjoint building opened on 27/28 December 1984 after three years of transition in the Kaufhaus building nearby Schanzengraben.

By the 1970s, the opera house was badly in need of major renovations; when some considered it not worth restoring, a new theatre was proposed for the site. However, between 1982 and 1984, rebuilding took place but not without huge local opposition which was expressed in street riots. The rebuilt theatre was inaugurated with Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and the world première of Rudolf Kelterborn’s Chekhov opera Der Kirschgarten.

As restored, the theatre is an ornate building with a neo-classical façade of white and grey stone adorned with busts of Weber, Wagner, and Mozart. Additionally, busts of Schiller, Shakespeare, and Goethe are to be found. The auditorium is built in the neo-rococo style and seats approximately 1200 people. During the refurbishment, the issue of sightlines was not adequately addressed. As a result, the theatre has a high number of seats with a limited view, or no view, of the stage. This is unusual in international comparison, where sightlines in historic opera houses have been typically enhanced over time.

Corporate archives and historical library collections are held at the music department of the Predigerkirche Zürich.

The Zürich Opera House is also home of the International Opera Studio (in German: Internationales Opernstudio IOS) which is a educational program for young singers and pianists. The studio was created in 1961 and has renowned artists currently teaching such as Brigitte Fassbaender, Hedwig Fassbender, Andreas Homocki, Rosemary Joshua, Adrian Kelly, Fabio Luisi, Jetske Mijnssen, Ann Murray, Eytan Pessen or Edith Wiens.

Important Info
Type: Opera
City: Zurich, Switzerland
Starts at: 19:30
Acts: 5
Intervals: 2
Duration: 3h 30min
Sung in: French
Titles in: German,English
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