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Noon Edition

Offenbach: Tales of Hoffmann, The Birds in the Tower

One of the preeminent minds of German Romanticism, E.T.A. Hoffmann was a prolific writer, critic, composer, theater manager, and lawyer. He was an early champion of Beethoven, writing an influential analysis of yesterday's piece, the Fifth symphony, which was to help set the values and expectations for a generation of symphonic composers. Hoffmann's fictional writings, however, could be quite bizarre. Hoffmann's story "The Sandman" was one of several freely spun into the libretto of Offenbach's opera. Offenbach, a natural humorist, even managed to draw some laughs out of this sinister tale of a student who falls in love with an automaton. In one of the great parodies of soprano coloratura, the robotic Olympia sings a waltz in which she imitates bird calls with great virtuosity, only occasionally requiring a good winding-up to keep her singing…

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