IN an hostelry in Nuremberg, the poet Hoffmann is awaiting the arrival of his love, the celebrated opera singer Stella.
Fuelled by drink and egged on by his friends, he tells them three far-fetched tales supposedly about his own romantic experiences.
These tales are brought to life by Opera Camerata at the Church Hill Theatre this week, as they present their 2015 production, The Tales of Hoffmann.
Jacques Offenbach’s opera, sung in English, is a fantastical story about a poet and his three tragic loves.
In the first tale, Hoffmann falls for inventor Spalanzani’s ‘daughter’ Olympia, who turns out to be a mechanical doll...
Hoffman’s second love story is perhaps the most tragic. Antonia is suffering from a mysterious illness, which means she mustn’t sing. Dr Miracle, the villain of the act, encourages her to sing herself to death, while Hoffmann and her father desperately try to stop her.
The third is set in a decadent, almost lurid, vision of Venice. Hoffmann is infatuated with the courtesan Giulietta, whose real desire is to steal his reflection for the devilish Dapertutto, in return for a precious diamond he has promised her.
When Jacques Offenbach began writing The Tales of Hoffmann in 1877, he hoped the opera would boost his reputation to a whole new level.
It did exactly that, unfortunately, the composer never lived to see it. He died four months before its premiere in Paris on 10 February, 1881. At the Church Hill Theatre this week a company and cast of 37 and an orchestra of 16 players pay tribute to his legacy.
The Tales of Hoffmann, Church Hill Theatre, Morningside Road, until tomorrow, 7.30pm, £12, 0131-228 1155, www.usherhall.co.uk