Offenbach’s fantastic opera here receives an outstanding performance in a production by acclaimed Canadian Robert Carsen first produced at the Paris Opera in 2000. It returned in 2002 when this performance was taped in October before a highly enthusiastic audience. Sets and costumes are colorful and imaginative, singing throughout is of a high level. American tenor Neil Shicoff made his operatic debut in 1975 in Cincinnati in Ernani and the next year sang several leading roles at the Met. Stage fright was a problem and Shicoff was known for cancellations, but now all that apparently is over and he has returned to performing with major companies. In 1986 he recorded Hoffmann in Brussels for EMI, and has sung the role with great success in many opera houses. Shicoff’s voice is still in excellent condition, and dramatically he is perfect as the tormented Hoffmann. All of the singers are commendable, particularly Susanne Mentzer, and Bryn Terfel who sings the four roles sometimes assigned to separate performers. Désirée Rancatore deals professionally with the director’s concept of a mechanical doll (do we really want to see her humping Hoffmann during the Doll Song?). Overall, this is a great show marred only by video director Françoise Roussillon’s penchant for super close ups that seldom flatter. Audio is adequate, but not exceptional.