Puccini's 'Turandot,' Featuring Nina Stemme

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Saturday, January 30, 2016

Nina Stemme stars in Puccini's 'Turandot.' Nina Stemme stars in Puccini's 'Turandot.' (Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera)

Tune in at 1 pm on Saturday for a broadcast of the Metropolitan Opera's final performance of Giacomo Puccini's Turandot this season.

Acclaimed soprano Nina Stemme takes on the title role of the Chinese princess who refuses to be possessed by any man. Tenor Marco Berti portrays Calàf, the suitor hoping to teach her to love, and sings "Nessun Dorma." Alexander Tsymbalyuk as Timur and Anita Hartig as Liù round out the cast. Paolo Carignani conducts.


Conductor: Paolo Carignani

Turandot: Nina Stemme
Calàf: Marco Berti
Liù: Anita Hartig
Timur: Alexander Tsymbalyuk

Comments [16]

Carolyn from NYC

Les, NY City Opera did the untruncated Alfano ending in their productions of Turandot....many unnecessary notes.....Toscanini knew what was best! The Met broadcast was very steller... Stemme is a good, secure and confident "Turandot". However Nilsson is the Turandot! and that Beaton production was spellbinding....Nilsson walking up the golden staircase with a huge fuchsia pink train following her and midway stopping and turning and singing "In Questa Reggia".....it blew me beyond tears! Something she did which I loved.....after each correct answer Calaf answered, she moved down a few steps....until the final question she asked, she was eye to eye with him.....what drama. I loved it. Saw every performance she did that was possible for me....including when the Met traveled (saw it in Cleveland). Her and Corelli together .... the musical private drama between them on stage.....(who could hold on the longest, who could sing the loudest) produced such excitement ... I have never experienced that since ... in any opera

Feb. 02 2016 11:46 AM

It's nice to hear the Met chorus lauded here. They were also fabulous in "The Pearl Fishers." Bravo, tutti!


Jan. 30 2016 11:34 PM
Steve from Morristown, NJ

Stemme, a prominent Wagnerian, was wonderful as Turandot. I also enjoyed Hartig as Liu. As usual, the chorus was magnificent. Bravo Donald Palumbo. As much as I love my Tebaldi and Bjorling studio recording, if I really want to be thrilled beyond belief, I listen to my Met CD of March 4, 1961 with Nilsson, Corelli and Moffo with Stokowski conducting. It is absolutely spine tingling and will make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. I constantly turn to my collection of Met broadcast CDs. Too bad there is no such thing as a time capsule.

Jan. 30 2016 05:05 PM
Les from Miami, Florida

A "little voice" convinced me to listen to the broadcast. I think Anita Hartig is a major talent: one of the joys of hearing live performances with some soloists previously unfamiliar. Growing up when I did and with a lifetime of listening to recordings the world considers classic ones, I do miss tight, intense vibratos not much found in today's singers (and solo flute players, too in many major orchestras, for that matter). I think that quality would have enhanced my appreciation of Nina Stemme's and Marco Berti's performances even more. The chorus was glorious throughout; and the boys' chorus with the Turandot melody was right on pitch in Acts I and II, underscored by the contralto saxophones in E flat. I had three equivocations: first, there was no laughter from Ping, Pang and Pong at the end of Act I; and there was a very short false start by Calaf in Act III: "(il) Il tuo sgomento". I liked Maestro Carignani's interpretation: the decision to have the contrabasses play their 32nd notes (F and A flat) loud then decrease to soft before the last riddle is answered really hightened suspense for me. Finally, as written, the chorus speaks, as was heard, "Il nome" while Liu`is being tortured; some choruses are asked to interpolate a high B flat and then an E flat a fifth lower, which, honestly, I miss. Was there an organ playing at the end of Act II? My ears couldn't tell, though I was listening at full-room volume throughout. I did enjoy the alternate version with the high C that Calaf sings during "il voglio tutto ardente (the high C on "ardente") d'amor." I think it's exciting that a world-wide audience is not only listening to the Saturday matine'es, but on occasions like this multitudes are watching as well as listening in movie theatres throughout the world. This was unthinkable when I was growing up and I thought it was amazing that the matine'e broadcasts were live throughout the U.S.A. and Canada. Now if only the masters of this website --- and that of the Met --- can be persuaded to list the entire casts of the operas without my having to go to the BBC's for same, I'd say near perfection were reached. I think it's insulting not to list all the cast members; and secondly, if I know the names of people I've never heard before, I'll be sure to remember their names. The "Nessun Dorma" reprise at the end of the opera is sure-fire. In the original Alfano ending, it's reprised in part, but it's not the last music heard. Two wishes I have that can't be granted given reality we live in are: to hear a recording of the world premiere and the second performance; and the second is to be sitting in the first row center during the performance just concluded.

Jan. 30 2016 04:52 PM
Ellen L from West Chester, PA

Marco Berti will not go down in operatic annals as a Calaf of any note; underpowered, uncommitted, off-pitch. Pity the Met could not have found a worthy tenor for Ms. Stemme who is truly memorable. I know I am spoiled since my very first Turandot was back in 1960-61 season, Birgit Nilsson, Franco Corelli, Anna Moffo conducted by Stokowski. The Cecil Beaton production was glorious as well. Thank goodness for my CD collection so I glory in Birgit, Renata and Jussi.

Jan. 30 2016 04:16 PM
Penny from Bethel, CT

I know he's not Pavarotti or Corelli or any other of the great Calàf portrayers, but was Marco Berti's Nessun Dorma - his whole performance in fact - underwhelming, pitchy, and just plain off? It could be me/my ears, but it does seem a shame because everyone else is aiming for the rafters, and he's not.

Jan. 30 2016 03:53 PM
Concetta Nardone from Nassau

Thank you Mr. Eisenberg.
Tenor's voice a little thin.

Jan. 30 2016 03:15 PM
Larry Eisenberg from new york city

Incomplete, yet masterwork still,
Each hearing a melodic thrill,
With Liu, I weep,
Her sorrow so deep,
Ms Hartig, is not run-of-mill.

Ping, Pang, Pong sweetly reminisce,
Turandot? I do long to hiss,
The Chorus, a joy,
Rare in P's employ,
Without a single note amiss.

Jan. 30 2016 01:53 PM
Penny from Bethel, CT

1. Thank you, WQXR, for making it possible for me to listen in. I'm listening on-line, my son is at the movie theater listening/watching it live.
2. The music is glorious, but Marco Berti? He's not finessed, he's not raw, he's just kind of meh, and I'm wondering if he's got the chops to get through the rest of the opera. Here's hoping.

Jan. 30 2016 01:51 PM
Concetta Nardone from Nassau

WHAT A wonderfully savage first act. great orchestration.

Jan. 30 2016 01:44 PM
Concetta Nardone from Nassau

Aretha Franklin also sang the HIT SINGLE.
And my son heard a guitar riff of the HIT SINGLE.

Jan. 30 2016 08:30 AM
Concetta Nardone from Nassau

@Beduzzo Cavanaugh: glad you are posting again and that you are well.

I guess all is forgiven when Turandot exclaims His Name is Love. Some great orchestration in this opera. there is more than the hit single. I very much like Non Piangere Liu as well Ping, Pang Pong singing of their wish to go home after the cruel princess is wedded and bedded.
I have the cd of Bjoerling, Tebaldi and usually judge other singers from this recording.

Jan. 30 2016 07:33 AM
Les from Miami, Florida

The most memorable Turandots have sung and excelled in Wagnerian roles, as is the case with Nina Stemme: three that come to mind immediately are Eva Turner, Inge Borkh and Birgit Nilsson. The rest of the cast seem problematical to me, so I'll opt for a recording. What is a certainly is that the final scene with the Alfano ending edited by Toscanini will be heard: the standard performing edition rather than Alfano's complete ending with more music for Turandot to transform into a loving woman, as well as a stupendous conclusion with Turandot's voice soaring high above the chorus, but not to a reprise of "Nessun Dorma", like Ponchielli's ending to Act III of "La Gioconda" in which the "Tu sei morta" melody is reprised by the orchestra alone, or the end of "Tosca" in which part of "E luchevan le stelle" is reprised by the orchestra alone. I'm one who feels the standard edition...mine is the Ricordi orchestra score plate number P.R. 117...seems too truncated, but this is the music everyone who's heard the score has heard. As much as I revere Toscanini, in this case I wish he hadn't edited Alfano's ending. Conductor Massimo Freccia's autobiography, "The Sounds of Memory", details suggestions Toscanini made to Puccini to change Rodolfo's opening music in "La Bohe`me" because he didn't like the rhythm or the prosody; and he didn't like that the beginning of "Un bel di" began after a diminuendo. But Toscanini's "clout" and influence prevailed in the case of Alfano's ending. His intentions were certainly good: no doubt the opera wouldn't have been performed at all without a concluding scene; and, cobbled together as it is, I think it's better than the ending Luciano Berio composed that ends quietly, like R. Strauss's "Daphne".

Jan. 30 2016 05:44 AM

Also, I'm sorry to say this Kalaf is a bit underpowered but I was spoiled by the best.

Jan. 30 2016 03:29 AM

I was lucky enough to see Nilsson/corelli about a dozen tines in Turan. Besides the magnificent singing, they would change how they would turn a phrase or hold a note. It was magical and ruined all subsequent singers of those roles - but what voices !!!

Jan. 30 2016 03:26 AM
Sanford Rothenberg from Brooklyn

The comments here will no doubt be a continuation of those on Fred Plotkin's blog concerning "Turandot",which included observations from a Turandot (Christine Goerke),and an Altoum (Kevin Langan).Some points made there included how Ping,Pang,and Pong reflect the Commedia dell'Arte roots of Gozzi's 1762 "Turandot",Nilsson and Corelli are generally regarded as the definitive Turandot and Calaf,with a surprisingly good recording by Sutherland and Pavarotti,and the original Turandot and Calaf,Rosa Raisa and Miguel Fleta have been greatly surpassed by their successors.

Jan. 29 2016 04:24 PM

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