Last night was the Live at the Met showing of Les Contes d’Hoffman. The absurd opera plot was made more confusing for a novice by a temporary loss of subtitles, and when the chorus was really going for it they found out the inadequacies of the Cineworld sound system, but as usual the colour and light and music and energy were most welcome at the cold tail end of January.
As we left: “Well, what do we think about that?” I asked my opera fan friend. “I don’t know really,” she said, “Didn’t quite do it somehow but I’m glad I’ve seen it for the first time.” Today I feel that behind the wall of sound and operatic gesture was hidden a streak of misogyny and indeed misanthropy. Hoffman claims to have been made great by love, even if frustrated, but where was the love, except in self deception? And wherein lies the greatness? About to emerge in his poems-to-be? Hmmm. I must say I have my doubts about that contingent oeuvre.