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Ambushed from Behind: Les Contes d’Hoffmann

Late-night performances to accompany the ‘proper operas’

Informationen Zum Werk


Directed by

Alexandra Holtsch

Set design

Sabine Mader


Sebastian Hanusa

Special guests

Frank Bretschneider

Special guests

Florence To

About the performance

In his unfinished opera LES CONTES D’HOFFMANN, whose premiere he did not live to see, Jacques Offenbach transferred the world of E.T.A. Hoffmann – both literary and biographical – to the stage. Hoffmann’s Muse emerges from a wine barrel in his legendary Berlin watering hole, Lutter & Wagner, and as the alcohol takes hold he recounts three tales of love that ended unhappily – and all this while waiting for the arrival of his lover, Stella, who is at that moment singing onstage in the Schausspielhaus on nearby Gendarmenmarkt. His ramblings increasingly become a fusion of fact and fiction, aspiration and actuality, reality and the fantastic.

LES CONTES D’HOFFMANN was operetta maestro Offenbach’s tour-de-force in the business of serious opera and his personal tribute to Hoffmann, the great romancier. This second event in the AMBUSHED FROM BEHIND series is an artistic take on Offenbach’s work. Frank Bretschneider, a legend in the Berlin techno scene and a media artist of international repute, focuses entirely on the act devoted to Olympia, in which Hoffmann narrates his hapless love for the mysterious daughter of Spalanzani, the inventor. The ‘daughter’ is entertaining guests at a party with her beautiful singing and wows the poet, Hoffmann, but ends up revealed for what she really is: a sophisticated, astonishingly life-like, musical automaton.

Bretschneider has teamed up with the sound and light artist Florence To to set the story in the 21st century. The drama explores the poetry of technology as much as the loss of an ability to tell dream from reality, but the means of telling the story have changed. Where, in the 19th century, the innovations were in optics, precision engineering and the advent of electrification, today it is nanotechnology, computer science and virtual reality that fascinate us. Offenbach’s musical material serves as the basis for an artificial web of son et lumière that, albeit abstract and pared back, is rooted in isolated motifs used by Offenbach and incorporates his original music, sung by the soprano Flurina Stucki.

‘Ambushed From Behind’ is the late-night series of productions that, in the few years since its inception, has invited guests such as Black Cracker, Andrei Koroliov, Matthew Herbert, Lydia Lunch, Peaches and N.U. Unruh to present works in the Tischlerei. In this way five operas receiving their premieres on the main stage have been given the Off-commentary treatment in projects incorporating members of the Deutsche Oper Berlin ensemble. This successful series of one-off evening performances will continue in 2018/2019 with more special guests from the worlds of pop, rock, avant-garde and visual arts.

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