Turandot

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New York Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Marco Armiliato Conductor
Franco Zeffirelli Production and Set Designer
Anna Anni, Dada Saligeri Costume Designers
Gil Wechsler Lighting Designer
Chiang Ching Choreographer
Knighten Smit Revival Stage Director

Liudmyla Monastyrska Soprano
Ermonela Jaho Soprano
Yonghoon Lee Tenor
Ferruccio Furlanetto Bass

In order of vocal appearance:

Liudmyla Monastyrska Turandot
Yonghoon Lee Calaf
Ermonela Jaho Liù
Ferruccio Furlanetto Timur
Alexey Lavrov Ping
Tony Stevenson Pang
Eric Ferring Pong
Carlo Bosi Emperor Altoum
Jeongcheol Cha Mandarin
Anne Nonnemacher, Meredith Woodend Handmaidens
Elliott Reiland, Ilia Pankratov, Amir Levy Masks
Arthur Lazalde Executioner
Jonathan Burwell Prince of Persia
Natalia Alonso, Jennifer Cadden La France, Réka Echerer, Katherine Hozier Temptresses

 

Giacomo Puccini  (1858 – 1924)
Turandot
Opera in three acts

Libretto by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni, based on the dramatic fairy tale by Carlo Gozzi.

Act I
Peking, in the mythic past.
Outside the Imperial Palace, a mandarin reads an edict to the crowd: Any prince seeking to marry Princess Turandot must answer three riddles. If he fails, he will die. The most recent suitor, the Prince of Persia, is to be executed at the moon’s rising. Among the onlookers are the slave girl Liù, her aged master, and the young Calaf, who recognizes the old man as his long-lost father, Timur, vanquished King of Tartary. Only Liù has remained faithful to him, and when Calaf asks her why, she replies that once, long ago, Calaf smiled at her. The mob cries for blood but greets the rising moon with a sudden fearful silence. As the Prince of Persia goes to his death, the crowd calls upon the princess to spare him. Turandot appears in her palace and wordlessly orders the execution to proceed. Transfixed by the beauty of the unattainable princess, Calaf decides to win her, to the horror of Liù and Timur. The three ministers of state, Ping, Pang, and Pong, appear and also try to discourage him, but Calaf is unmoved. He reassures Liù, then strikes the gong that announces a new suitor. 

Act II
Within their private apartments, Ping, Pang, and Pong lament Turandot’s bloody reign, hoping that love will conquer her and restore peace. Their thoughts wander to their peaceful country homes, but the noise of the crowd gathering to witness the riddle challenge calls them back to reality.
In the royal throne room, the old emperor asks Calaf to reconsider, but the young man will not be dissuaded. Turandot arrives. She recounts the story of her beautiful ancestor, Princess Lou-Ling, who was abducted and killed by a conquering prince. In revenge, Turandot has turned against men and determined that none shall ever possess her. Trumpets then herald the beginning of the riddles. Turandot poses her first question to Calaf: What is born each night and dies each dawn? “Hope,” Calaf answers correctly. Turandot continues: What flickers red and warm like a flame, yet is not a flame? “Blood,” Calaf replies after a moment’s thought. Shaken, Turandot delivers the third riddle: What is like ice but burns, and if it accepts you as a slave, makes you a king? Tense silence prevails until Calaf triumphantly cries “Turandot!” The crowd erupts in joy, and the princess vainly begs her father not to give her to the stranger. Hoping to win her love, Calaf offers Turandot a challenge of his own: If she can learn his name by dawn, he will forfeit his life.

Act III
At night in the Imperial Gardens, Calaf hears a proclamation: On pain of death, no one in Peking shall sleep until Turandot learns the stranger’s name. Calaf is certain of his victory, but Ping, Pang, and Pong try to bribe him to leave the city. As the fearful mob threatens him to learn his name, soldiers drag in Liù and Timur. Calaf tries to convince the crowd that neither of them knows his secret. When Turandot appears, commanding Timur to speak, Liù replies that she alone knows the stranger’s identity and will never reveal it. Soldiers torture her, but she remains silent. Impressed by her fortitude, Turandot asks what gives Liù the strength to resist. It is love she replies. When the torture intensifies, Liù tells Turandot that she, too, will know the joys of love. Then she snatches a dagger and kills herself.
The crowd forms a funeral procession, and Timur follows as they take away her body. Turandot remains alone to confront Calaf, who impetuously kisses her. Knowing emotion for the first time, Turandot weeps. Calaf, now sure of winning her, reveals his identity. Once again before the emperor’s throne, Turandot declares she knows the stranger’s name: It is Love.

Synopsis reprinted courtesy of The Metropolitan Opera


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