[Met Performance] CID:307210
Turandot {163} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/23/1992.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
January 23, 1992


TURANDOT {163}
Puccini/Alfano-Adami/Simoni

Turandot................Gwyneth Jones
Calāf...................Vladimir Popov
Lių.....................Teresa Stratas
Timur...................Nicola Ghiuselev
Ping....................Dwayne Croft
Pang....................Michael Forest
Pong....................Anthony Laciura
Emperor Altoum..........Andrea Velis
Mandarin................James Courtney
Maid....................Annette Spann-Lewis
Maid....................Beverly Withers
Prince of Persia........Robert Costello
Executioner.............Ming Chew
Three Masks: Gary Cordial, Joseph Fritz, Christopher Stocker
Temptresses: Pauline Andrey, Linda Gelinas, Suzanne Laurence, Ellen Rievman

Conductor...............Nello Santi

Production..............Franco Zeffirelli
Stage Director..........David Kneuss
Set designer............Franco Zeffirelli
Costume designer........Dada Saligeri
Costume designer........Anna Anni
Lighting designer.......Gil Wechsler
Choreographer...........Chiang Ching

Turandot received seven performances this season.

Review of Tim Page in Newsday

Zeffirelli's 'Turandot' All Trumped Up

Franco Zeffirelli's production of Puccini's "Turandot" is already a period piece. First presented in early 1987 - at the height of an unprecedented orgy of financial indulgence, it reflects the tawdry sensibilities of an era.

Hey! Remember those fabulous '80s? Well, if Donald Trump and Leona Helmsley had joined forces to design an opera, it might have looked like the Zeffirelli "Turandot" - aggressively ostentatious, crowded as Chinatown, thrills and chills by the score, all set within a visual framework that calls to mind a Palm Beach Trader Vic's after one too many Samoan Fog Cutters. In the same way that a walk through certain Berkeley or Cambridge neighborhoods can bring back all one hated about the '60s, the Zeffirelli "Turandot" may be likened to a last, caloric, satiated burp from the '80s. A time capsule, then, but not entirely inappropriate for "Turandot," which may be Puccini's most ambitious opera but is, in many ways, as vulgar as Trump Tower.

It has been said that there is only one great tune in "Turandot," namely the tenor aria "Nessun Dorma," and by now, with its appropriation for airline commercials, soccer matches and the big Carreras-Domingo-Pavarotti slugfest at Caracalla a couple of years back, you're probably sick to death of it. On Thursday night, "Nessun Dorma" - and the rest of the character Calaf s music - was sung by Vladimir Popov, a refugee from the Mario Del Monaco school of bel canto, where one learns that intensity is loudness; loudness, intensity, and that's all ye need to know.

Even louder was Gwyneth Jones, as the icy Princess Turandot, who has the fetching tendency to behead any suitor who can't answer three riddles she poses. (Calaf proves to be her undoing - her Charles Van Doren, as it were.) Jones has the requisite power and grandeur for the part - her voice soared effortlessly through the house - but she has developed a distressing tendency to sing just above the note, particularly in strenuous passages, and the results sometimes skirted polytonality.

For subtlety, it was necessary to turn to Teresa Stratas, who sang the small but pivotal role of Liu, the slave girl. Liu, the only truly empathic character in the opera, was here presented as a bright, bristling, bundle of emotion, volatile as nitroglycerine. If there is a finer singing actress than Stratas now working before the public, I am not aware of her. Nicola Ghiuselev brought a welcome gravity to the role of Timur, Liu's father, while Dwayne Croft, Michael Forest and Anthony Laciura made the characters of Ping, Pang and Pong seem as symbiotic as snap, crackle and pop.

Nello Santi led the Met orchestra and chorus with a sure idiomatic understanding and a mercurial sensitivity to the needs of the singers.



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