Turandot - Schedule, Program & Tickets


Tormenting doubts and crippling depressions accompanied the genesis of Giacomo Puccini's last opera TURANDOT. From the initially diffused fear of being unable to finish his opera, Puccini urged himself and his librettist duo Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni to hurry. It was to be a new beginning, born of a compositional crisis, into which the musical developments, indeed upheavals of the present had thrown him, a liberation, a departure to new shores.

Even the material should signal the departure from the themes of the past. Puccini was in search of the "pure myth", the essence of what he had previously told in psychologically-realistic petty detail on the theater. He imagined a fairytale-fantastic drama and he had found it when Simoni in the spring of 1920 drew his attention to the Turandot fabric in the form of the fairy-tale comedy Carlo Gozzis (1762). Driven by nervous impatience, he accompanied - as usual - the conception and execution of the libretto.

At the heart of the opera is the cruel Princess Turandot, who is terrorizing her people. Their tyranny, like a curse, under which a whole country groans, can only be banished by the marriage of Turandot. Potential candidates must pass a difficult test. Whoever can not solve the three puzzles of the princess awaits beheading. Although countless princes have already died, new candidates still find themselves hypnotized by the beauty of Turandot and willingly ask their questions. Calaf, the son of a displaced ruler from foreign lands, breaks through this pattern against all expectation. He answers the questions and increases his triumph by reversing the balance of power, extending the cruel puzzle game, and asking the princess a counter question. Should she be able to answer them, he promises to release her from her marriage promise. By introducing a new character - the slave Liù - into the original Persian fairy tale fabric, a female figure reminiscent of the heroines of his earlier operas, Puccini illuminates Turandot's beastly brutality even more clearly. Liu breaks - as before her various Puccini heroines - at the cruel, disregarding her feeling reality. When she realizes that she can not win Calaf, whom she loves, she sacrifices her life for the beloved. According to Puccini's ideas, in the closing scene "love should explode" and "the humanity of love should outshine all cruelty". The ice-cold princess would undergo a complete change in her nature.

When Puccini was diagnosed with cancer of the throat in mid-1924, the opera - with the exception of the final scene - was practically completed. Whether it was the serious illness or Puccini's inability to liberate himself believably from the dramaturgical dead end, in which he had led the wonderful, fairy-tale, but psychologically difficult to understand transformation of Turandot, ultimately remains speculation. Puccini died as a result of surgery on November 29, 1924 in a Brussels hospital and left the unfinished work, which his colleague Franco Alfano - after the sketches of the master - completed. Toscanini premiered TURANDOT on April 25, 1925 at La Scala in Milan.

Although Puccini was unable to make an unconditional new beginning with his TURANDOT, the influence of his experience with works by contemporary composers is noticeable. Although this has not led to a radical change in his tone language, his means of expression have become more unusual, more subtle, but also tougher and more dramatic. With the Turandot he has created a completely new type of Italian highly dramatic soprano reminiscent of Wagner's heavy heroines.

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