Meet Ms. Mentzer

Operatic egos being what they are, the star-studded cast of the Metropolitan Opera’s Tales of Hoffmann this year was not as amused as it might have been by the little joke that this time the piece should have been billed as Tales of Nicklausse. In this mercilessly protracted revival of Offenbach’s never-finished, much-edited score, the poet-hero’s sidekick (actually the Muse, his guardian spirit, disguised as a youth) had one extra lick after another. Had it not been for Susanne Mentzer’s nimble, unaffected grace, her presence would have become tiresome indeed. As it was, she was the exquisite icing on a soggy cake. Mentzer repeats the part at the Met this month (broadcast live on the Texaco Metropolitan Opera Radio network at 1:30 p.m. EST February 13). For those who have fallen under her spell, the even better news is the announcement of her New York recital debut at Carnegie Hall (February 19).