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Prized 'Tales of Hoffmann' Opera on DVD

The 1951 film version of the Offenbach opera The Tales of Hoffmann, now on DVD, is recognized as a masterpiece of dark storytelling from the British team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.

In it, the vivid imaginings of a heartbroken student are brought to life in vibrant Technicolor. The directors took the story of E.T.A. Hoffmann from the theater to their own soundstage, where they created a dreamlike landscape for the story to unfold.

For The Tales of Hoffmann, Powell and Pressburger reunited with Moira Shearer, the lead in their 1948 ballet classic The Red Shoes. The pair, who collaborated in writing, producing and directing, also made the dramatic film Black Narcissus in 1947.

The newly remastered DVD release, the result of intense efforts to clean and optimize the original film's images, also includes comments from director Martin Scorsese and cultural historian Bruce Eder.

Copyright 2022 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

Lloyd Schwartz is the classical music critic for NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross.