[Met Performance] CID:188140
Turandot {40} McCormick Center, Chicago, Illinois: 05/13/1961.

(Review)


Chicago, Illinois
McCormick Center
May 13, 1961


TURANDOT {40}

Turandot................Birgit Nilsson
Calf...................Franco Corelli
Li.....................Lucine Amara
Timur...................Bonaldo Giaiotti
Ping....................Frank Guarrera
Pang....................Robert Nagy
Pong....................Charles Anthony
Emperor Altoum..........Alessio De Paolis
Mandarin................Calvin Marsh
Prince of Persia........Edilio Ferraro
Servant.................Thomas Russell
Servant.................Craig Crosson
Servant.................Robert Bishop
Executioner.............Howard Sayette
Executioner.............Wally Adams
Executioner.............William Burdick

Conductor...............Kurt Adler

Review of Claudia Cassidy in The Chicago Tribune

On the Aisle

Franco Corelli Joins Birgit Nilsson in a Stunning 'Turandot'

The third time's the charm and style, the open sesame. After two disasters in the maligned name of opera, the Metropolitan brought Franco Corelli to town with Birgit Nilsson in a stunning new " Turandot." Superbly staged by Yoshio Aoyama in Cecil Beaton's dreams of faraway legends that pass as scenery and costumes, it could almost make you forget that the plaster is not quite ready at McCormick Place to have air conditioning turned on full blast. Miss Nilsson patted her Turandot legend of a face once or twice, but it stayed beautifully put. Still, some of us remembered the summer night at Ravinia when Leon Rothier's Mephisto goatee skidded and stuck rakishly to his oblivious throat.

Between acts, that is. While the curtain was up, and it sometimes took a long time to rise on those complicated double scenes, "Turandot" held undivided attention. The fortunate have heard it sung to the hilt on other occasions, but seldom, if ever, as marvelously staged. Mr. Beaton had conjured ancient walls in mauve gray and fabulous towers at fascinating angles against which he set such costumes as Turandot's in vermilion and magenta and turquoise against tall Calaf's Tartar look with the black fur cap and the long black cape slashed with scarlet lining, plus hordes of servitors, counselors, executioners, wraiths and mimes, and high on his imperial throne, the tottering, gleeful old emperor in imperial yellow, gleaming like some withered, but indomitable, sun. And for every costume, the perfect make-up, the savage striking against the imperturbable like a gong.

If you remember the infinite subtlety of Mr. Aoyama's "Butterfly," you can expand it into massive brilliance of "Turandot." The man is a kind of magician in that he can lift an authoritative hand and the Metropolitan stage so drab with "Aida," so coarse with "Martha," turns mesmeric with "Turandot." On that stage and into that challenge came two stars of extraordinary brilliance. Miss Nilsson, who has a broadsword of a soprano, really unsheathed it for the big house. It is steel, but tempered steel, and the higher it mounts the more dangerous its sound, for at the highest altitude it releases a new and lambent beauty. No change there - just more so.

Mr. Corelli, the tall young Italian - 6 feet, 2 - from Ancona on the Adriatic, is a strikingly handsome man with a beautiful voice. It is a soaring voice with the edge of courage on it, yet an Italian voice with the caressing timbre and the turn of a phrase that displays the truest Puccini beauty. He has stage sense in every move, and he knows precisely how to give an audience the full delight of the duel of the man and the woman of ice, how to conjure in the dusk the poignancy of Puccini's last throbbing nocturne, "Nessun dorma."

Along with those two came Alessio De Paolis' ancient emperor, a precise, wily and elegant performance. Bonaldo Giaiotti was a retiring, but interesting, Timur, Calvin Marsh, an effective mandarin. Lucine Amara was not a happy choice for Liu - too matronly, and too insecure in what was once a lovely voice. Nor were the Ping, Pang and Pong more than routine. But the stage was filled with vivid performances just the same, Edilio Ferraro's doomed Prince of Persia, pitifully yoked for execution. The mimes of executioners choreographed by Mattlyn Gavers. Such touches as the orange veil that covered Turandot's face from the sight of death.

In all this the orchestra was massive under Kurt Adler's direction. This is effective enough with so glittering a performance, but it is only a part of the wealth that can pour from what now seems increasingly to be Puccini's finest score.



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