Sun, 07. Jan 2024, 16:00
Giacomo Puccini (1858 – 1924)
In his last, unfinished opera Puccini addressed the aesthetic of cinema, the new medium for mass consumption. In his version of the work Lorenzo Fioroni makes a connection between the repressed, yet sensationalist Chinese opera people and the consumers of modern media content … Conductor: John Fiore / Giulio Cilona; Director: Lorenzo Fioroni; With Catherine Foster / Ewa Plonka, Clemens Bieber, Martin Muehle / Jorge Puerta, Maria Motolygina / Sua Jo, Joel Allison / Samuel Dale Johnson, Gideon Poppe / Andrew Dickinson, Ya-Chung Huang a. o.
About the workA nation is cowed by its princess. Turandot, beautiful and fascinating representative of a royal dynasty, presides over a gruesome ritual: only her marriage to a suitor will bring an end to the violence, but no would-be bridegroom has yet managed to solve the riddles. The same old spectacle plays out, ending in yet another execution, until Calaf, the son of a deposed ruler from a foreign land, unexpectedly answers the riddles correctly. He then turns the tables on Turandot, forcing her to answer his own question if she wants to steal out of her obligation. Puccini’s times are changing rapidly, the art world is going through drastic transformation and new, abstract forms are being coined to reflect modern-day experience. And the composer, in his early 60s, is again trying to break new ground.
Puccini spent the last four years of his life working on TURANDOT, based on a fairy tale by Carlo Gozzi . The score was his richest and altogether most dissonant. Far from being the soundtrack to a cutesy picture of a doll-like China, the exotic music provided the backdrop to a world suffused in an atmosphere of unimaginable cruelty. Try as he might, Puccini never did settle on a resolution to his drama. The composer who was ever leery of happy endings never managed to escape from the dead-end that he’d created for himself through Liù’s sacrifice and the imminent pairing of Turandot and Calaf. The question of how the two might ever discover some common ground remained unanswered. Puccini was variously intrigued and repelled by the idea of presenting of an all-encompassing love as a means to redemption in the face of everything that speaks against it – and could not bring himself to paint such a utopia. He left only a fragment behind when he died and the Ricordi publishing house brought in the composer Franco Alfano to complete the opera, based on sketches left behind by Puccini.
About the productionLorenzo Fioroni’s production sets the action of the story in a fairy-tale realm of indeterminable period but one which nonetheless is reminiscent of modern-day dictatorships. The riddle and execution scenes are dwelt on and give the impression that violence plays a ritualistic, quasi-religious role. Pitted against this is the desire, expressed repeatedly by the elite and the plebs, to end the oppression and see all groups reconciled. It is on this taut spectrum between violent rule and a yearning for love that Calaf and Turandot circle each other. Yet instead of pouring oil on troubled waters, the new couple usher in a new era of terror.
Fioroni rummages in the psychologies of the main protagonists and discovers in both a marked tendency towards violence. Calaf, too, is the scion of a former despot and, by looking on as Liù sacrifices herself for him, shows that saving face and achieving his goals is more important to him than saving lives. And it is this area of unscrupulous overlap that makes his final pact with Turandot plausible. And so it goes: their unfolding passion is reflected not in an overturning of the brutal system but in a continuation of tyranny.
Dramma lyrico in three actsLibretto by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni, after the play by Carlo GozziFirst performed on 25th April 1929 in MilanPremiered at the Deutsche Oper Berlin on 13th September 2008
Recommended from 15 years on