Soloists: Katia Ricciarelli, Eva Marton, José Carreras
Orchestra, Chorus: Orchester der Wiener Staatsoper, Wiener Sängerknaben
Conductor: Lorin Maazel
Director: Harold Prince
From the Vienna State Opera Arthaus presents a timeless document of great opera. Lorin Maazel and a dream cast of distinguished singers, among them the young Eva Marton and José Carreras in his mid-thirties, perform a celebrated staging of Puccini’s Turandot. Puccini’s last opera tells the story of the battle of the sexes against an exotic backdrop. The work tells the story of the beguilingly beautiful and cold yet seductive Chinese princess, Turandot. The opera is characterized by the tension it creates between the denial of love and secret affection, between self-sacrifice and obsession with sacrificial victims, and between cold cruelty and pure love. The performance was received with unanimous enthusiasm. Lorin Maazel scored a great personal success with audience and critics alike with passion, authority and brilliance in his conducting. The applause at the end of the performance lasted three-quarters of an hour and was directed not only at Maazel, but also at the team of wonderful singer-actors. The Hungarian soprano Eva Marton brought to the title role what one critic described as “a voice of gleaming metal in which one senses the beautiful woman lying in wait to defeat her opponent but is also aware of her fears of man in general.” Appearing alongside her as Calaf was José Carreras whose “unprecedented intensity” and “priceless tenor voice” were once again at the fore. Katia Ricciarelli was no less acclaimed in her role as “the best of all possible Liùs”.
Puccini’s final opera is an epic fairy tale set in a China of legend,
Featuring a most unusual score with an astounding and innovative use of chorus and orchestra, it is still recognizably Puccini.
The unenviable task of completing the opera’s final scene upon Puccini’s sudden death was left to the composer Franco Alfano. Conductor Arturo Toscanini oversaw Alfano’s contribution and led the world premiere. World premiere: Teatro alla Scala, Milan, April 1926. Met and U.S. premiere: November 16, 1926.
Giacomo Puccini (1858–1924)
In Gozzi’s play, the original commedia dell’arte characters wandered from Italy to China and were members of the Imperial court. The China of this opera, set in “legendary times,” is a mythical land where the clash of the sexes is drawn in high relief.
Although the Met presented the American premiere of Turandot in 1926, Puccini’s last work didn’t become an audience favorite until the opening of Cecil Beaton’s 1961 production, which featured Birgit Nilsson and Franco Corelli. Their dynamic (and highly competitive) appearances together helped secure the opera’s box office appeal. The current Franco Zeffirelli production was first seen in 1987 with Eva Marton, Plácido Domingo, and Leona Mitchell.
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