Ernst Theodor Wilhelm Hoffmann (Königsberg , January 24, 1776 – Berlin, June 25, 1822), who changed his third name to Amadeus in honour to Mozart, is one of the best-known representatives of German Romanticism, and a pioneer of the fantasy genre, with a taste for the macabre. He was also a jurist, composer, music critic, draftsman and caricaturist.
As a musician, he composed about 80 works, including several operas, among them Aurora (1811-12), after Franz von Holbein, and Undine (1814), after Baron Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué's tale, one symphony, sacred and chamber music, as well as instrumental pieces.
The final revival of this well-loved production by John Schlesinger provided the perfect vehicle for Vittorio Grigòlo as Hoffmann to display his wonderful voice and masterful acting, surrounded by an exemplary supporting cast, including Sonya Yoncheva in the role of Antonia, and Thomas Hampson as Hoffmann’s arch rivals. The production at the Royal Opera House (November 2016) garnered very good reviews, especially for Vittorio Grigòlo.
Offenbach's Les contes d'Hoffmann is among those operas with most textual problems, since the composer did not live to its premiere, leaving an incomplete score. The traditional text, bringing in extra material, much of it unauthentic, and leaving out alot, was only established in the 20th century. This Dresden recording sessions were held (June 1987-June 1989) borrowed much from Michael Kaye's 1991 Schott Edition.
Sylvain Cambreling is one of the leading French operatic conductors. He is known for his often startling innovations in many opera productions: in a performance of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro at the 2001 Salzburg Festival he employed a synthesizer to deliver recitative accompaniments, and at a performance of Janácek's Katya Kabanova, he used some of the composer's songs as transitional material between acts.