Last night I attended my first live opera. Not only did I attend the Tales of Hoffman, I was invited to join Mike Paschkes, who had performed this opera on stage at the New York Met. This made my evening a special experience.
In my research about Hoffman, I learned that he never wrote a straightforward story. Instead, he wrote tales, novellas, and fragments that always leave the reader wondering. Hoffmann mixed letters, diary entries, fictional newspaper articles, overheard snatches of dialogue, and vague accounts of dreams with stories told by lunatics and fools. This opera achieved that effect.
The Tales of Hoffman tale is an epic romance, a comedy, a drama and adventure rolled into a few musical hours. Along the melodious journey you learn about Hoffman’s character as you root for him. He’s a poet, traveler and ultimate underdog hopelessly unlucky in love.
The opera, originally written in 1881, is loosely based on the real life of Hoffman. It’s divided into three of those compelling stories of Hoffman’s quest for the perfect girl, but it naturally never works out. The sumptuous music played by a live orchestra coupled with that fantastic story was enough to stir the soul. (and even keep me up past 9pm)
I’m happy I accepted the generous invitation to attend Tales of Hoffman and take his journey of flawing in love. Anyone who thinks they have no interest in opera should try this one.