Les Contes d'Hoffmann
Hoffmann, a poet and musician, is undergoing a severe crisis in his artistic career, as a result of his obsession with Stella, an opera prima donna. Councilor Lindorf intercepts a note from Stella to Hoffmann, setting a rendezvous at Luther’s tavern following her performance in Don Giovanni, in the neighboring opera house. Lindorf vows that he will keep the appointment instead, and remains in the tavern with the operagoers who come in for a drink after the first act. Hoffmann enters with Nicklausse, his Muse in disguise, and to cheer himself up, sings a song about the dwarf Kleinzach. Lindorf taunts him and Hoffmann recognizes in him the spirit of evil, which continually pursues him. Hoffmann agrees to tell the people in the tavern the tales of his three loves.
Hoffmann visits the inventor Spalanzani, who shows him his latest creation, the mechanical doll
ACT II: ANTONIA
Hoffmann has followed his beloved, the ailing singer Antonia to
ACT III: GIULIETTA
Hoffmann admires and fears the courtesan Giulietta. Giulietta’s lover Schlemil appears and is introduced to Hoffmann. The demonic Dapertutto shows Giulietta a diamond and, enchanted by the stone, he gives her his orders: just as she has conjured up the shadow of Schlemil, now she must capture Hoffmann’s reflection.
Although Nicklausse warns Hoffmann against the evil woman, pointing out the fate of unfortunate Schlemil, Hoffmann confesses to Giulietta his love for her, thus losing his reflection. Hoffmann kills Schlemil, before running off to Giulietta’s room, where he does not find anyone. He sees Giulietta in a gondola with another admirer, Pitichinaccio. Nicklausse succeeds in helping Hoffmann to escape.
Back at Luther’s tavern, Hoffmann concludes his tales, as voices in the theater next door hail Stella, his present love. Nicklausse recognizes the allegory of the three tales - Stella is all three women in one. Hoffmann proposes they drown their sorrows in another bowl of punch. Stella appears but the drunk Hoffmann, lost in thought, does not respond to her. Seeing him in this condition Stella leaves the tavern on the arm of the triumphant Lindorf. Nicklausse, reverting to his true identity as the Muse, persuades Hoffmann to devote himself to his art.