Turandot, Opera by G. Puccini
Giacomo Puccini’s life was tragically cut short by throat cancer before he could complete the score of Turandot, his final masterpiece and one of the most cherished operas in the catalogue. It fell upon his pupil Franco Alfano to complete Act III based on the Maestro’s notes. At the premiere in Milan’s Teatro alla Scalla on 25 April 1926 conductor Arturo Toscanini famously interrupted the performance at the exact moment Puccini’s original score ended. Rome’s Teatro Costanzi brings back a shining diamond in opera’s crown this season.
Puccini and his librettists Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni based the story of Turandot on the play of the same name by Carlo Gozzi. The Italian playwright himself was inspired by the Asian legend of Turandot, the princess with a heart of stone, who would put her suitors through impossible riddles and execute them when they failed to solve them. Prince Calaf sets about to teach the cruel girl a lesson. He answers her riddles correctly and poses a question of his own: if she can find out his true name by dawn, she is free of her obligation to marry him and can have him killed instead. Will his gamble on love pay off and will Turandot’s icy heart melt?
Despite his progressing illness, Puccini poured an astounding amount of creative energy and joy into the score of Turandot. With the Far-East knowledge he had gathered while composing Madama Butterfly, the Maestro effortlessly played with Eastern and Western musical idioms. The melodic profile of Turandot is, thus, wonderfully eclectic and impressionistic. Puccini uses dynamics and harmonies to paint complex narratives that drive the action forward. The opera also contains one of his crowning achievements, Prince Calaf’s aria ‘Nessun dorma’, widely regarded as the pinnacle of tenor solos. Turandot at the Rome Opera House is an unforgettable musical journey.