Turandot a Success in HD

The Metropolitan Opera (The Met) transmitted the January 30th performance of Puccini‘s Turandot as part of their Live in HD series today.  It was certainly was a treat to watch.

The performance starred Nina Stemme as the princess Turandot, Marco Berti as Calàf, Anita Hartig as Liù, Alexander Tsymbalyuk as Timur, Ronald Naldi as the Emperor Altoum.  Dwayne Croft, Tony Stevenson, Eduardo Valdes played Ping, Pang, and Pong respectfully.

The production was directed by Franco Zeffirelli, who also designed the sets, the lighting director was Gil Wechsler, and costumes were by Anna Anni and Dada Saligeri.  The performance was conducted by Paolo Carignani.

The production itself was first performed by the Met Opera in 1987, but the sets looked just as fresh today and were lavish and extravagant, the hallmark of a great ‘traditional’ or literal production.  But at the same time, at allows for the stars to take centre stage so to speak.  Mr. Zefferirelli’s interpretation transports us into the mysterious fairy tale of Turandot.  It presents the opera as Puccini wrote the work, and it met with my approval.

The singing was very good.  Miss Stemme, known for her Wagnerian performances, showed that she can indeed to something else.  And do it successfully.  Mr. Berti provided a lower tenor voice to the role of Calàf which I found refreshing.

The stand out singer had to be Anita Hartig, singing Liù.  Her performance was extremely moving, especially her first act aria Signore, ascolta! (My lord, listen!)  The aria was sung with a lot of emotion, and pulled at your heart strings.  It shows how much Liù actually loves Calàf.  Puccini never finished Turandot, not making it passed Liù’s death in Act III.  Hearing Miss Hartig today made me see one reason for this – Liù is such a wonderful, kind, and good person that I almost wanted the opera to end after her death – the opera seemed to lose something extremely vital.

The chorus and orchestra, under the direction of Maestro Carignani, were in top form as usual.  They superbly performed throughout.

All in all, this was a worthwhile performance, and a great production.

Here are a couple clips from the performance:

  1.  Anita Hartig singing Signore, ascolta!:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBp5o-76A1Q
  2. Nina Stemme’s In questa reggia aria:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbHL9ni_zyo&list=WL&index=57
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