"Cluytens has plenty of drive and knows how to relax without letting the sentiment become sloppy. Gedda is an admirable Hoffmann: the tone has both sweetness and power, while his feeling for the character extends beyond Romantic convention to include a sense of the comic-grotesque." Synopsis Beyond its complex structure, Les Contes d'Hoffmann has a complex history and exists in multiple versions. Inspired by the stories of the German writer E.T.A. Hoffmann, it uses a prologue and an epilogue to frame three episodes in the life of a fictionalised Hoffmann. The first tells of his infatuation with Olympia; though she makes a spectacular impression with her virtuoso aria `Les oiseaux dans la charmille', she is in fact a mechanical doll, who by the end of the tale is smashed to pieces. Next comes the Venetian courtesan, Giulietta. The justly celebrated Barcarolle suggests romance, but Giulietta's real interest is in stealing Hoffmann's reflection and being rewarded with a magnificent diamond, the subject of the villainous Dapertutto's `Scintille, diamant' - an aria in fact added after Offenbach's death. The final and least cynical tale is of Antonia. Her aria `Elle a fui' proves that she has a marvellous voice, but singing could be fatal to her weak constitution. Though she returns Hoffmann's love, his potential happiness is thwarted by the evil Dr Miracle who, in a magnificent trio with the spirit of her dead mother, uses magic to force Antonia to sing. Soon, she too is dead.