In opera, emotion is aesthetic, sometimes intellectual, but also – above all? – physical. The Strasbourg public was able to fully experience it, even in an astonishing way, thanks to the soprano Elisabeth Teige, heroine of the new production of Turandot by Puccini.
From the first bars of his opening scene, in Act II, the breadth of his marble-like density voice, the insolence of his high-pitched sound that fills the theater like an immense swell and the ductility of his phrasing leave you speechless. . Especially since, far from getting drunk on his exceptional vocal means, the artist multiplies the nuances, takes care of the intonation impeccably and plays with the silver color of his tone.
Sculptural and fragile icon
It is so rare to hear a singer master this terrible role, in almost permanent struggle with an opulent orchestra, darting her complaints and her imprecations like a goddess her arrows, that Elisabeth Teige’s performance alone justifies that we take the road to the Opéra du Rhin! The director Emmanuelle Bastet plays with the blooming silhouette and the blondness of the soprano to evoke an Anita Ekberg from La Dolce Vita by Fellini, the object of male fantasies, a sculptural and fragile icon. The contrast is very successful with the Liù embodied by Adriana Gonzalez, a brunette with a modest pose, even if, in a disturbing and endearing way, the two singers have a similar vocal color, the second seeming to be the sacrificed little sister of the first…
The male stage, less flamboyant, however allows the tenor Arturo Chacón-Cruz (a little suffering during the premiere) to favor the tender, ardent and restless character of Prince Calaf, fascinated by Turandot to the point of facing death to make it his. Mention also to the trio Ping, Pang and Pong (Alessio Arduini, Gregory Bonfatti and Éric Huchet), cynical and comical ministers whom Emmanuelle Bastet transforms into tasty stressed chiefs of staff, telephone in ear, computer at hand and dark suit master key.
A contemporary China subjected to the tyranny of the image
All these characters evolve in a contemporary China – and not the immemorial empire of the plot inspired by a tale by Carlo Gozzi (1720-1806) – where ubiquitous screens push a crowd under surveillance to consume both objects and images. As the acts progress, the decor is purified, black and white replace bright colors, the action tightens on the duo-duel between the princess fleeing male desire and the one who will never stop possessing her.
Omnipresent, sometimes cruel, sometimes empathetic, the people stir up these passions as much as they comment on them. The Choirs of the Opéras du Rhin and Dijon and the children of the Maîtrise de l’Opéra du Rhin, dramatically and musically overstretched, come out with honors, despite a few floating attacks which will certainly gain in clarity over the performances. .
Musicality more than strength
Elegant, subtle, taming the sound mass, the musical direction of Domingo Hindoyan adapts very intelligently to the dimensions and acoustics of the Strasbourg theater: the conductor insists on the infinite alloys of timbres which the instrumentalists of the Philharmonic Orchestra delight in Strasbourg, in superb form. He constantly brings to light the finely exotic harmonies and the irresistible lyricism that Puccini never renounces, even in this score rich in “experimental” boldness and enigmatic climates. Like the elusive personality of Turandot, a wounded and ruthless woman won over by love. Unless it’s the idea of love…