The best opera orchestra imaginable, even if Maestro James Levine did not conduct personally. Simply divinely good and beautiful, this sound and precision. Perfect voices in all roles. The name of the conductor that replaced Levine I did not understand as I was so apprehensive that Netrebko would not sing when the announcer appeared in front of the curtain. His name was John Kennan, as I found out later. The stage set and the costumes were not exciting, but adequate.
The were deficits in the characterisation of the courtesan Giulietta.
Joseph Calleja presented a rather sensitive and self-conscious Hoffmann, not a glamorous hero or even a jovial grandseigneur as in earlier Met productions. I prefer Sher´s and Calleja´s interpretation of the protagonist role. Calleja convinced vocally and as an actor.
The production did not risk any experiments and duly followed the Hoffmann mainstream. The number of original stage ideas was limited.
I could not discover the closeness to Kafka and Fellini as mentioned in the program booklet. In a kafkaesque opera Hoffmann´s opponent would have had to be drawn more demonically and mysteriously. A closeness to Fellini would have required more fantastic and playful elements. e.g. a more erotic Giulietta.
A possible explanation for the conventional interpretation of this opera by Bartlett Sher is the economic architecture of this theatre. Half empty performances caused by ultra-modernist experiments might soon endanger the financial basis of this opera house which cannot rely on generous funds from taxpayers´ money.