Puccini's Turandot

« previous episode | next episode »

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Iréne Theorin as Turandot at San Francisco Opera Iréne Theorin as Turandot at San Francisco Opera (Cory Weaver)

San Francisco Opera opened its 2011-12 season with Puccini's unfinished final masterpiece. Swedish soprano Iréne Theorin stars in this passionate tale of a princess whose cruelty masks her fear of love. Joining her is Adler Fellow Leah Crocetto, as Liù, and Marco Berti as Calaf.

This opera features some of the Puccini’s most glorious music, including the stirring anthem “Nessun dorma.”


Turandot   Iréne Theorin
Calaf    Marco Berti
Liù    Leah Crocetto
Timur    Raymond Aceto
Ping    Hyung Yun
Pang    Greg Fedderly
Pong    Daniel Montenegro
Emperor Altoum  Joseph Frank
A Mandarin   Ryan Kuster

CONDUCTOR:  Nicola Luisotti
STAGE DIRECTOR:  Garnett Bruce


APPROX. LENGTH: 3 hours 15 minutes

Comments [10]

Peter O'Malley from Oakland, New Jersey

We were out kayaking and only got to hear Act III of what is (most of the time) my favorite Puccini opera (at least when I am listening to it). I have always thought the ending improbabel, the conversion of Turandot unlikely, and Calaf a selfish and heartless cad (look how he treats Liu and lets his father -- whom he has not tried to save from the Princess's henchmen -- wander off alone after Liu dies), but the music (through the death of Liu and its aftermath) has always carried me along notwithstanding all this. Once the Alfano ending starts, the jig is up, until the Hollywood ending. As to this performance, my wife and I both thought Berti's "Nessun dorma" was underwhelming, with a pinched and basically unaerated sound. Too bad: it was OK, but not much more.

Dream casts? Nielsen, Bjoerling, Tebaldi (though not a warm Liu); Nielsen and Corelli?

Aug. 27 2012 11:50 AM
Philip Elliott from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Arguably one of THE BEST Turandot's in recent memory. Having grown up with Sutherland and Pavarotti as the dream cast AND REMEMBER hearing the 1972 Met broadcast. This broadcast from San Fransisco Opera ranks right up there. Ping, Pang and Pong were the best I've heard in years and Liu was TOTALLY touching. No qualms with Calaf as after Pavarotti, one is spoiled. Hopefully this is a taste of things to come when I see Turandot at the Met in October for my first ever production AT the Met

Aug. 26 2012 10:59 AM
concetta nardone from Nassau county

Dear Mr. Suisse:
Puccini also incorporated torture in the second half of Tosca and an attempted rape. I think he had a dark side like some of us have and try to tame.
Best wishes

Aug. 26 2012 07:43 AM

Thank you, Concetta Nardone, for your comment. I have read your commentaries from time to time and appreciated the perspective.
The question then remains: Did Puccini or his librettist find the storyline a bit strange if it was truly a fairy tale from afar? How could they accept the storyline as it was and write great music for it?
You also made a good point that Calaf was also cruel that he did not even try to save Liu. Only his extreme idiocy could absolve him.
I continue to search for a plausible logic in the storyline.

Aug. 25 2012 07:20 PM
concetta nardone from Nassau county

Unfortunately, the music is so glorious that we forget how bloody awful Turandot and Calaf are. He lets Liu be tortured just so he can get the prize. It is hard to believe that Turandot is redeemed by love. We have to accept that this is a fairy tale. Sometimes, I am ashamed that I love how savage some of the first act music is. But I understand how some of us are repelled by the story. The music seduces us.

Aug. 25 2012 03:12 PM
unifoisensuisse from Sunnyvale, California

Glorious music to rival Wagner's richness. Very smart judicious selection of folksy Chinese melodies. Phenomenal display of grandeur and intensity in the riddles scene, not to mention the perhaps most lyrical and show of hope and confidence in Nessun Dorma of all tenor arias. I often felt however that the wondrous music is all wasted on a very incomprehensible storyline of a psychopath turned loving heart, and an idiotic Calaf offering his life for just to show his love for a ruthless, merciless, and stone-cold princess. The abomination came as the faithful Liu was tortured to commit suicide. That is unequivocally beyond justice and redemption. Perhaps readers of this column could help me dispel my bias.

Aug. 25 2012 03:07 PM
concetta nardone from Nassau county

Viva Puccini. Turandot, savage and tender. What glorious orchestration, especially the first act. Barbarous vitality, cruel, wonderful. I have never gotten tired of this masterpiece and read my libretto and score whenever I can. It closes with His name is Love. Gives me chills everytime I hear that phrase. I must be getting soft. Bravo to everyone involved.
Thanks to everyone.
AND, thanks Mr. Eisenberg.

Aug. 25 2012 02:54 PM
Larry Eisenberg from nyc

How glorious is Turandot!
Puccini's best by a long shot,
Complex & melodic
With moments quixotic,
A magnum opus he begot!

Aug. 25 2012 02:36 PM
Suzanne from New York

What glorious orchestration! Viva Puccini!
I find "Turandot" always a bittersweet experience, as Puccini was ill during its composition and didn't live to complete it. But that second act--the lush writing and theatrical timing all there. I wish he could have seen/heard Nilsson and Corelli in it. Perhaps he would have just marveled at the thrill he was able to give the audience.

Aug. 25 2012 02:00 PM
Peter Feldman from New York City

Marco Berti is a very good tenor.

Aug. 25 2012 01:28 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

The WQXR e-newsletter. Show highlights, links to music news, on-demand concerts, events from The Greene Space and more.