Is this the most insane piece ever written for soprano?

This aria performed by the ‘doll’ Olympia in Offenbach’s opera Les Contes d’Hoffmann is arguably the most difficult piece ever written for soprano.

Les contes d'Hoffmann doll song Olympia

Offenbach’s opera Les Contes d’Hoffmann is set in a world of the fantastic, the uncanny and the magical.

The plot is… well, it’s complex and you can read about it in detail here.

But, all you need to know is the storyteller Hoffmann is challenged to tell three great love stories – and one of them involves a doll called Olympia. Olympia is a wind-up doll and she only has the one aria during the opera, but WOW what an aria.

Here’s the whole amazing aria

This formidable performance of ‘Les oiseaux dans la charmille’ is by soprano Kathleen Kim in The Metropolitan Opera’s production – at 1m50 she needs winding up again…