Music: A Grand Phantasmagoria

Offenbach's Tales of Hoffmann returns the Met to top form

From a distance, seemingly beyond the stage, the workshop of an eccentric inventor swims into view, its cheery interior alive with whirring mechanical toys that no child has ever imagined. Gondolas glide serenely through the perfumed, decadent atmosphere of La Serenissima—Venice, dark and dangerous. A placid bourgeois home suddenly explodes with the nightmarish visitation of a sinister, cadaverous physician who walks through walls and bursts from fireplaces in a ball of flame.

The phantasmagorical spirit of E.T.A. Hoffmann lurks everywhere in the Metropolitan...

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