The highlight of the inaugural week of Jean Nouvel's new opera house in Lyon was the premiere of Des Contes d'Hoffmann, conceived by the Opira de Lyon. Inspired by Offenbach's Les contes d'Hoffmann and freely based on the performing edition by leading American musicologist Michael Kaye, this production is far removed from the familiar settings of Luther's tavern and Olympia's salon. Hoffmann--poet, musician, and philosopher--finds himself trapped in some kind of infernal huis clos, surrounded by mutant incarnations of the men and women who have been instrumental in his moral and creative decline. Insanity, drunkenness, or nightmare? Hoffmann's delirium becomes tangible in the imposing set designed by Phillippe Starck. Lyon has brought together a formidable cast for this production, wtih Daniel Galvez-Vallejo, a young French tenor of Spanish descent, making a striking impression in the title role. The four villains are portrayed by the peerless Belgian bass-baritone Josi van Dam and the legendary Gabriel Bacquier plays Spalanzani, Crespel, and Schlemil with veteran aplomb.