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Bookseller Inventory Language: German. Brand new Book. Hoffmanns vereinigt, die sich alle aus dem gleichen Motivkreis entfalten, der den Autor - selbst Komponist und Dirigent - besonders anziehen musste: aus der Musik. Seller Inventory LIB Published by Reclam Verlag; From: Petra Gros Koblenz, Germany. About this Item: Reclam Verlag;, Condition: Gut. Sprache: Deutsch Gewicht in Gramm: Published by Goldmann, Muenchen. About this Item: Goldmann, Muenchen. Condition: Very Good, except a noted. Very Good, except a noted. Papier leicht gebraeunt. Since the medical details of Andre's condition are obscure, we have only Schneider's narrative, which tells more about the prima-donna archetype and the degree to which she had internalised it than about her son's diagnosis.
And the apparently inescapable link between talent and organic defect in the singing woman's offspring inspired one further fiction, the fantasy of a musical child with no mother at all. Assez, assez, ma fille! This fantasy was initially realised in Hoffmann's 'Der Sandmann', where the beautiful Olympia bows to her audience, smiles demurely and begins to sing 'an aria di bravura in a voice that was, if anything, almost too brilliant, but clear as glass bells'. Olympia has no mother; but she has two fathers, the inventor Spalanzani and his demonic colleague Coppelius, eUminating the transgressive mother entirely from the conception of her singing daughter.
Olympia, the all-male creation, sings and behaves flawlessly; no one detects that she is a machine, although she makes some people uneasy: We think - you won't take it ill, brother? Her figure is regular, and so are her features, that can't be gainsaid; and if her eyes were not so utterly devoid of life, I may say, of the power of vision, she might pass for a beauty.
She is strangely measured in her movements, they all seem as if they were dependent upon some wound-up clockwork. Her playing and singing have the disagreeably perfect but insensitive timing of a singing machine, and her dancing is the same. We felt quite afraid of this Olympia. She fools bourgeois society because her fixed smile and limited conversation she can only say 'Ah! She fools Nathanael, the poet who has fallen in love with her, because he always views her through Coppelius's magic spectacles.
But her apparent humanity always resides in the eyes of her beholders: although Hoffmann conceals the truth about her mechanical nature until the climactic moment when she is broken, the sly narrative never claims that she is anything but 'dependent on some wound-up clockwork'. At no point does he depict her coming to life, beginning to move or singing of her own volition. French theatrical versions of Hoffmann's fantasy, however, repeatedly 30 Brindejont-Offenbach, The prima donna from Hoffmann's Tales to Offenbach's Contes stage the erosion of its carefully maintained boundary between the robot and the humans observing her.
Hoffmann's Romantic psychodrama is here transformed into comedy: the demonic Dr Coppelius becomes a buffo villain, a cranky old man posing obstacles to true love; a sentimental young lover replaces the deluded poet Nathanael. Most importantly, however, both versions add a new event and a newly created character: a scene in which a plucky servant or peasant girl impersonates the doll and 'runs amok' before the astonished inventor who has been interfering with her romance. Both the 'Nuremberg doll' and the puppet Coppelia seem, at their comic and dramatic high points, to be transformed from mechanism to life, but the plot provides a rational explanation: the 'ghost in the machine' is a live girl.
The inventor, like the legendary sorcerer's apprentice, is initially delighted by the success of his experiment, and then made frantic by his creation's misbehaviour, while the audience remains comfortably aware that the doll is actually slumped in the cupboard, and that the thing dancing wildly is a real person, logically accounted for. The boundary between cyborg and woman remains secure. Once again there is a girl in the machine, but here neither the characters on stage nor the audience knows who she is.
If Olympia is 'only acting like a living creature', who programmed her to act so lively?
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Olympia thus possessed resembles the haunted Antonia, subject to a disorderly feminine imperative that resists containment and refuses to be exorcised, her voice singing in defiance of paternal authority. But whereas Offenbach explains Antonia's disobedience as the resurgence of her mother's influence, urging her to transgress boundaries, the plot of Olympia's story does not allow such logic: with no mother to influence her, how did the performing machine learn to behave like a diva? We must look outside the text to find the mother of Offenbach's Olympia: a prima-donna mother whose presence at the role's conception is reflected in the mechanical daughter's music.
She was the Opera-Comique star Adele Isaac: When [the impresario] Carvalho accepted the work for the Opera-Comique, changes had to be made to accommodate the singers available in the new company Isaac, Hoffmann does not show 'Olympia' becoming human, but his complex and subtle story concerns itself on several levels with the perhaps more terrifying vision of humans behaving mechanistically. The story of 'The Sandman', of which the Olympia episode is only a portion, is less concerned with machines coming to life than with the robotic quality of human actions.
Bruit d'un ressort Ex. Offenbach re-set the words to the melody that became famous, including passages that gave Mile. Isaac full scope for her skill. In her first appearance, Olympia performs the famous 'doll song', 'Les oiseaux dans la charmille', which has many traits in common with earlier representations of her mechanical voice. These features are designed to hide the human performer in the role, creating the illusion that a machine or musical instrument is making the sound. The prima donna from Hoffmann's Tales to Offenbach's Contes and her staccato coloratura purges the voice of its human effect, depriving it of grain and texture.
The singer playing Olympia sounds like a woodwind instrument, and the corollary is also true: when Olympia is an actress or ballerina, the woodwinds sing for her. Delibes indicates the silent puppet Coppelia with a stilted little theme for flute and English horn, while in Barbier's spoken play, Olympia 'sings' a wordless obbligato, actually played by an off-stage English horn see Ex. Cor anglais Ex. Although the song fits generically with coloratura waltz songs of the period, including Juliette's 'Ah je veux vivre', with which Mile Isaac had had such a success, it differs from them in the crucial respect that its brilliant language is drained of expressive meaning.
The singer must efface herself and the fact of her performance if she is to be effective. The song, which has two identical verses, leaves no room for a vocal inventiveness the diva might have regarded as her right, such as improvised cadenzas or new and more elaborate ornaments for the second verse.
A brief survey of recordings of the opera in this century reveals that most performers have nobly resisted the urge to vary the ornamentation in the second stanza. In recitals, where the signer is no longer confined by the plot's robotic logic, sopranos typically subject the 'doll song' to as many virtuosic variations as any other showpiece aria, freely rewriting Offenbach's passagework and making the second verse more elaborate than the first. The notion of genre pieces hiding the woman performer inside becomes explicit in Coppelia, where Swanhilda veils herself first with a tartan and then with a mantilla, and dances appropriate character pieces — a jig and a bolero — to conceal that her presence animates the supposed doll.
Similarly, the prima donna inside Olympia hides behind a mask of stiff gestures and deliberately hollow, inexpressive vocal quality. But the act's finale unmasks the singer's charade and the limits of her mechanical impersonation; for as the puppet's programmed melody breaks down in her extravagant concluding vocalise, a genuine prima donna replaces the doll-instrument. The moment of revelation undoes the paradox of a virtuoso performance that has vainly tried to efface its own production: the more successfully the singer produces that 'inhuman' coloratura, the more astonished the audience becomes at her technical mastery.
This finale acknowledges the way that the performer always 'breaks character' in a coloratura showpiece: her singing is so breathtaking and strenuous that we cannot avoid acknowledging the particular woman doing it. In such moments the prima donna plays only herself. Olympia's manic final performance begins with a solo flute theme, a dance to accompany waltzing guests. She and Hoffmann begin to dance, but the girl suddenly refuses to follow; she lurches around, throwing the bemused poet back and forth and finally flinging him to the ground, where his magic spectacles shatter.
Breaking the spectacles destroys the illusion — for Hoffmann, and for the audience, who now see the live soprano dropping her mask of wooden programmability. In response to the paternal command, 'Assez, assez, ma fille! Her 'Oui! But almost immediately she exceeds that theme's formal constraints, and the orderly expectations set up by her 'doll song', as she runs away with the tune: her roulades get out of control, she gets stuck in the cadential trills, she rewrites the piece to the surprise and alarm of everyone see Ex.
Like her crazy dance with Hoffmann, this disorderly music comes from outside the logic of the plot, contrary to paternal programming. Bereft of his magic spectacles, the disillusioned Hoffmann, like the audience on stage and off, can only gape at the new spectacle of a cooperative girl-machine transformed into a disorderly diva.
Not surprisingly, the prima donna's song, pouring out of the child from whom her influence was supposed to have been expunged, provokes violent retaliation: Olympia exits and is immediately dragged back in pieces. The plot rationalises Olympia's destruction as Coppelius's revenge against Spalanzani, but the music tells another story, the story of Angela being thrown out the window, and of Antonia dying for her joyful indulgence in her mother's voice.
Ultimately, the opera implies, the construction of Olympia is only another futile attempt at repressing the prima donna's spirit. The prima donna from Hoffmann's Tales to Offenbach's Contes Epilogue: La Stella It irritated my intense individualism to be pointed out as a musical spirit possessed by a voice from the ether, or a magnetized automaton controlled from other spheres. Similarly, the epilogue of Les Contes d'Hoffmann takes us back stage to show the diva in her 'intense individualism'. Stella's appearance in Luther's tavern writes large the moment when the human singer drops her robot-mask.
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The diva, her performance over, walks out from behind the three dead heroines, having survived them all. With Stella's back-stage appearance in the tavern the epilogue invokes the prima donna one last time. This episode, like the poet's three narratives, retells one of Hoffmann's tales, but transforms it even more drastically: Stella is further from 'Don Juan' than Olympia is from 'Der Sandmann' or Antonia from 'Rat Krespel'.
It is delicious to speculate how Miss Farrar's resentment might have borne on an interpretation of Offenbach's three heroines; regrettably, the role was not in her repertory. Barbier's and Offenbach's Stella also has been performing in Don Giovanni before her appearance off stage, but she is otherwise quite unlike her sublime forebear.
Textually, Stella's scene is a disaster left unfinished by Offenbach, it was completed by editors and performers in a variety of ways over the years , but its dramatic elements remain consistent. Barbier's play continues the theme from the three internal tales of having the demonic antagonist control the scene: Stella comes for Hoffmann, but Lindorf persuades Hoffmann to reject her and leads her away himself, making wordly conversation.
Is it an accident that Stella's last two lines, like Olympia's, consist solely of 'Ah! In Barbier's libretto, approved by the Parisian censors in but never set by Offenbach, Hoffmann is simply drunk, sending Stella and Lindorf away with a satirical verse about the dwarf Kleinzach and his futile love for an expensive courtesan. The tradition of Stella's silence seems to begin with the libretto, for in the play she spoke the same mixture of verse and prose as all the other characters. In the libretto, and in most subsequent realisations of the epilogue, she says nothing.
The most recent Schirmer vocal score gives her a brief, silent appearance: 'Stella, accompanied by Lindorf, appears at the side door. Seeing Hoffmann in this state, she turns and leaves, escorted by Lindorf. In Oeser's reconstruction of the scene, derived from the censor's libretto, Stella is also silent. Only in an 'alternate ending' of the Schirmer edition does she speak, and then only two words: 'Hoffmann?
- August Bromse - Rat Krespel.
- Suo Marito [annotato] (Italian Edition)?
- Rat Krespel / Die Fermate / Don Juan?
Rather it is her work, and she leaves it behind when she leaves the stage. Paradoxically, this prima donna is the only one who does not 'go around singing songs all the time', to borrow Edward T. Cone's phrase about people in the fantasy-world of opera. Thus the Stella episode overturns the analogous episode in Hoffmann's tale, for whereas Donna Anna represents a fantastical poetic spirit at large in the mundane world, Stella is a mundane intruder into the opera's fantasy. Betsy Wing Minneapolis, , The prima donna from Hoffmann's Tales to Offenbach's Contes sing, for it is precisely her not bursting into song that differentiates this final appearance from the preceding episodes, and the role she played in them.
In each tale, the poet imagines her broken or smashed for having overstepped the bounds, but in the end the compulsive repetition of the smashing and breaking gestures only emphasises their ineffectiveness. The opera's conclusion defies the dull final sonority of E. In the opera, the soprano's story is never over — the curtain rises and there she is again.
The prima donna can be silenced in the poetic imagination and its fictions, but the opera rewrites the endings of Hoffmann's musical fantasies by allowing the soprano to survive her 'most dread moment' again and again, and finally to escape it altogether. Elaborate narratives may attempt to cast out the prima donna, to confine her within a doll's wooden shell or a dutiful daughter's fragile body — yet she always makes herself heard, transcending the narrative's 'inevitable' punishment.
Stella is a suppressed truth of opera: the woman inside Olympia, Antonia's secret self. Selfish, splendid, disdainful, wilful and difficult, she survives when the sweet martyr collapses and the performing doll is smashed. The prima donna's song has not been extinguished, and the poet can neither command it nor confine it, for in the last analysis the singer does not exist to serve the Romantic artist.
She may 'have sung [him] and have been [his] melodies' - but only on stage, and only for a price. The Paris premiere, as recorded in the first published score Choudens, , did feature a duet for Stella and Hoffmann in the epilogue. Other Editions 1. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. All Languages. More filters. Sort order.
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