Turandot, Opera by G. Puccini
Turandot is an opera that holds special significance in many ways. It was the last, unfinished creative effort of the great Giacomo Puccini. It also marks the end of the golden age of Italian melodramatic opera. Last but not least, it was the Maestro’s second escapade to the Far East and thus offers a wonderful example of the integration of world music motifs into a classical operatic score. Full of memorable and moving melodies and powered by an engaging story, Turandot lives again on the stage of Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Florence.
The story of Turandot finds its origins in Persian legend from Medieval times. Puccini got his inspiration for the opera thanks to the play of Friedrich Schiller of the same name. Librettists Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni used Carlo Gozzi’s adaptation to develop the plot for the opera stage. They set the action in China where the cold-hearted Princess Turandot torments her suitors with challenging riddles and takes their lives as punishment for wrong answers. Prince Calaf is initially repugned by her cruelty but cannot help succumbing to her beauty. After he answers her riddles, he sets out to melt her cold heart and offers her a deal: if she finds out his true name by dawn, their wedding is off, and his life will be at her mercy. Will true love overcome?
Puccini worked on Turandot’s score even as his health was rapidly deteriorating due to throat cancer. Despite his dire circumstances, the opera’s music is full of life and beautiful, inspiring melodies that seem to defy darkness and death itself. Prince Calaf’s triumphant ‘Nessun dorma’ is one of the most famous tenor parts in the repertoire, and its glorious crescendo and melodic ascent will leave an indelible mark in your musical memory. Puccini’s knack for musical characterization and narration appears in full force in his final work as well. The premiere took place on 25 April 1926 at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala. Conductor Arturo Toscanini famously interrupted the performance at the point in the score where Puccini had stopped. Maggio Musicale presents the full version of Turandot, completed by Franco Alfano.