Opera Abbreviated: Turandot
The Metropolitan Opera presents Puccini's Turandot live in HD in movie theaters worldwide on Saturday, January 30th at 1:00 PM. Don't miss Franco Zeffirelli's magnificent production!
Turandot was unfinished when composer Giacomo Puccini traveled to Brussels for cancer treatments in November of 1924. He never came home. The opera lacked a final scene. The text and some sketches were available, but the musical finale was cribbed together by composer Franco Alfano, at the behest of conductor Arturo Toscanini. Alfano was a good composer, not a great composer. For his pains, he's suffered a bad rap for over ninety years. But without him, we wouldn't have Puccini's magnificent tale of a vengeful Chinese princess and the many suitors who try for her hand.
Puccini and his librettists, Giuseppe Adami and Renata Simoni produced a magnificent combination of drama, fantasy and commedia. The misery of the bloodthirsty Turandot is offset by the comedy of Ping, Pang and Pong who have their roots in the Venetian commedia of Carlo Gozzi. The slave girl Liu brings us the pathos of Puccini's earlier heroines, Mimi and Madama Butterfly. In Prince Calaf we have the Italian tenore robusto always loved by audiences.
Turandot was first performed at La Scala, Milan on April 25, 1926. Soprano Rosa Raisa sang the title
role. On the first night, Toscanini ended the performance mid way through Act 3, at the death of Liu. "Here the opera ends" the maestro told the public, "because here Puccini died." Italian opera didn't die with him, but an era had passed.