Turandot, Metropolitan Opera live relay, November 2009


This Franco Zeffirelli production is wonderful. The sets by Zeffirelli himself, along with costume designs by Anna Anni and Dada Saligeri, give a sense of power and magnificence, while the predominantly dark lighting by Gil Wechsler gives a sense of menace. All one then needs is a good conductor and fine singers, and here we were excellently served by Andris Nelsons in the orchestra pit, and Maria Guleghina and Marcello Giordani in the main parts of Turandot and Calaf. With her great stage presence and powerful voice, Ms. Guleghina portrayed Turandot to perfection, and interacted superbly with Giordani. His evident determination to crack the riddles, showing uncertainty before working out the answers, was admirably done, and despite a brief loss of pitch in Act II he sang heroically, rendering Nessun dorma with perfect timing and build-up.

The supporting role of Calaf’s father Timur was sensitively portrayed by Samuel Ramey, and the bravely faithful Liu was beautifully sung and acted by Marina Poplavskaya. I particularly liked the way Charles Anthony portrayed the emperor, singing with wonderful Chinese intonation, and one of the intermission features by Patricia Racette was an interview with Anthony, who told us he first sang at the Met in 1954, and that his real family name was Caruso. What a superbly appropriate fact, since the opera is concerned with finding out the prince’s real name. But that was just icing on the cake, because this opera was brilliantly performed. And it shows the Met to be setting a template for opera performance that puts into a shadow some of the more confusing and hyper-intellectual nonsense that one occasionally meets. Thank you Metropolitan Opera!

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