A classic Hoffmann with a lavish stage set. Perfectly staged and acted, sung by a world star, with an excellent Muse and a very good Giulietta. One does not see a really classic Hoffmann too often nowadays. The last one was in Zwickau / Saxony whose Olympia (Inga-Britt Andersson) will remain unforgettable.
When one sees a contemporary version with traditional costumes and stage set, you peep into a world of Romanticism or a Georgian world, but the identification with the characters is less easy.
One is placed into the past and experiences the opera as a museal event.The Hoffmann at Covent Garden was perfectly played and wonderful to look at, but risked nothing.
The chosen Guiraud-Choudens version is considered outdated and was so when John Schlesinger produced the London production in 1980. Three years before Fritz Oeser had presented his revised Hoffmann. But the Oeser version costs licence fees, and the even more modern Keck-Kaye version is even more expensive.
But I prefer a perfecly played Hoffmann, set with much love to detail in a generally well sung traditional version to an anrtificially modern Keck-Kaye Hoffmann which failed miserably as performed in another capital.
The main elements were presented in the Covent Garden production: Klein-Zach, Olympia´s aria, the Barcarole, the Diamond Aria, the beautiful music of the Antonia act with the Violin Aria. Only the final apotheosis is short in the Choudens version. But nevertheless, I have been in the operatic heaven and enjoyed every minute of it.
A personal recommendation to the ROH: should this Hoffmann be revived in a couple of years, please do not modernise this unique stage set elaborated with so much love for detail. Only the Royal Opera in Stockholm has a comparable Hoffmann to offer.