A few impressions off the top of Opera Chic's tired head because she just got back from Turin where earlier tonight she witnessed the Turin premiere of the Nicolas Joel production of Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann (a Turin/Toulouse/Madrid/Tel Aviv co-production).
First things first: Opera Chic would like to thank, as everybody else in the audience tonight should, Simone Alberghini: despite having sung last night at the second cast's general rehearsals and being scheduled to sing tomorrow, Alberghini tonight replaced an indisposed member of the first cast -- thus committing himself to sing for three nights in a row his different parts (Lindorf, Coppélius, Docteur Miracle and Dapertutto).
So, big hugs and cheers and teddy bears to Alberghini: without him, we would have been Offenbach-less for the night.
Tomorrow in the full review we'll discuss the production -- with a steampunk touch that OC found endearing, despite her doubts about many choices by the director), the conductor Emmanuel Villaume, a tall order of French coolness waving some impressive windmill-like arms who shaped very boldly and beautifully Act I, coaxing lightness and beautiful clarity from the Regio's orchestra to shift later to darker hues.
The talented cast -- among them Monica Bacelli and Nino Surguladze -- was one of the reasons we traveled up to Turin on a freezing, scarily foggy bleak Northern Italian midwinter night. But we need to make clear that the longest ovation, by far, and the warmest applause at curtain call, was won by the young woman -- who just turned 32, auguri! -- who became Olympia, opera's favorite automaton, under our watchful eyes. Desirée Rancatore, coloratura soprano of wonders, has already emerged as one of the (very few, there's Dessay and frankly very few others) leading Olympias worldwide. And tonight she brought the haus down with her humor, her sweetness, the unabashed power of that voice, and the fearlessness she showed in attacking the trickiest passages -- a highwire act delivered with coquettish smiles, sweet rubbery moves, and her special way of blinking robotically with a very human twinkle in her eyes.
It's probably not physically possible to perform the scene twice in a row; but when it's over, you wish you could Tivo Rancatore back on stage -- the rest of the opera can wait -- and see and hear her all over again. There are not many artists you really really want to rewind, as you're cheering happily at the end of an aria. It's a small sorority of singers -- and a fraternity, too -- with elite members, who can usually achieve that magic only in their (few) trademark roles. But Rancatore as Olympia is like that -- she projects that light. She's like a rainbow.