TURANDOT in Detroit




Opera in three acts
Music: Giacomo Puccini
Libretto: Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni
Premiere: Milan, 1926

Running time: About 2.5 hrs
Sung in Italian with English translations projected above the stage


Sat May 10, 2014 730p

Wed May 14, 2014 730p

Fri May 16, 2014 730p

Sat May 17, 2014 730p

Sun May 18, 2014 230p

Ancient Peking is the backdrop for the myth of the beautiful, bloodthirsty, Princess Turandot. Resolved to never let any man possess her, she decrees that any suitor must answer three riddles or die. Puccini’s final opera is also his most musically adventurous.


liseLindstrom200.jpg LISE LINDSTROM, Turandot
Lindstrom is cool and imperious as the callous queen-to-be, but her voice is warm, rich and lustrous (never shrill) with an evenness of tone. Turandot is known as one of the hardest roles in the dramatic soprano repertoire, but Lindstrom never falters, particularly in her all-over-the-scales second-act aria “In Questa Reggia.”-North County Times
othalieGraham200.jpg OTHALIE GRAHAM, Turandot
[As Turandot] timbre and power were thrilling – steely ring from top to bottom – and her path from imperiousness to passion was convincing.-Boston Globe
 donataDAnnunzioLombardi200.jpg DONATA D’ANNUZIO LOMBARDI, Liu
Lombardi’s sweet, expressive, technically flawless control of the material, and her expertly measured mastery of the stage.-l’Opera
Role: Turandot
Dates: May 10, 14, 17
Role: Turandot
Dates: May 16, 18
Role: Calaf
Dates: May 10, 14, 17
 eugeneVillanueva200.jpgEUGENE VILLANUEVA
Role: Ping

Role: Pang
josephHu200.jpgJOSEPH HU
Role: Pong
donataDAnnunzioLombardi200.jpg  DONATA D’ANNUNZIO LOMBARDI
Role: Liu
valerioGalli200b.jpg  VALERIO GALLI
garnettBruce200.jpg GARNETT BRUCE


Act I

Outside the Imperial Palace in Peking, a mandarin reads an edict to the crowd: any prince seeking to marry the 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 Calàf, who recognizes the old man as his long lost father, Timur, vanquished King of Tartary. When Timur reveals that only Liù has remained faithful to him, Calàf asks why. She replies that once, long ago, Calàf smiled at her. The mob cries for blood but greets the rising moon with a sudden fearful silence. When the Prince of Persia is led to his execution, the crowd calls upon the princess to spare him. Turandot appears, and with a contemptuous gesture orders that the execution proceed. As the victim’s death cry is heard from the distance, Calàf, transfixed by the beauty of the unattainable princess, strides to the gong that announces a new suitor. Suddenly Turandot’s three ministers, Ping, Pang, and Pong, appear to discourage him. Timur and the tearful Liù also beg him not to risk his life (“Signore, ascolta!”). Calàf tries to comfort her (“Non piangere, Liù”) but then strikes the gong and calls Turandot’s name.

Act II

Inside the palace, Ping, Pang, and Pong lament Turandot’s bloody reign, praying that love will conquer her heart and restore peace. The three let their thoughts wander to their peaceful country homes (Trio: “Ho una casa nell’Honan”), but the noise of the people gathering to hear Turandot question the new challenger calls them back to reality.

The old emperor asks Calàf to reconsider, but he will not be dissuaded. Turandot enters and describes how her beautiful ancestor, Princess Lou-Ling, was abducted and killed by a conquering prince. In revenge, she has turned against men and determined that none shall ever possess her (“In questa reggia”). Facing Calàf, she poses her first question: What is born each night and dies each dawn? “Hope,” Calàf answers, correctly. Turandot continues: What flickers red and warm like a flame, yet is not a flame? “Blood,” Calàf replies after a moment’s thought. Shaken, Turandot delivers the third riddle: What is like ice but burns? Tense silence prevails until Calàf 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, Calàf offers Turandot a challenge of his own: if she can learn his name by dawn, he will forfeit his life.


In the Imperial Gardens, Calàf hears a proclamation: on pain of death no one in Peking shall sleep until Turandot learns the stranger’s name. Calàf is certain of his victory (“Nessun dorma!”), 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. Calàf 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. She is tortured but remains silent. Impressed by such fortitude, Turandot asks Liù’s secret. It is love, she replies. When the soldiers intensify the torture, Liù tells Turandot that she, too, will know the joys of love (“Tu, che di gel sei cinta”). Then she snatches a dagger and kills herself. The crowd forms a funeral procession and the body is taken away. Turandot remains alone to confront Calàf, who impetuously kisses her (Duet: “Principessa di morte!”). Knowing emotion for the first time, Turandot weeps (“Del primo pianto”). Calàf, 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.”

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