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Ensemble

FRESH AND ENGAGING

RODERIC DUNNETT reports on
Chisinau National Opera's 'Turandot'

 

The Chisinau National Opera production of Puccini's last opera, 'Turandot'

'Unhappy man, your fate is sealed' mutters the massed chorus, as the arabian Prince Calaf fearlessly strikes the gong. The moment is magical -- shivering, unnerving, pianissimo, the dramatic irony potent : we sense -- even know -- that Calaf is going to win through -- that he, alone of the trail of doomed suitors, will see off the Sphinxian queries of this shrill and deadly heiress, this 'principesa di morte'; that here, surely, is an Emperor in the making.

So too, curiously, does Turandot, who in Puccini's score feels her power waning line by line, bar by bar, Yet just how this oriental (though in her eyes, occidental) exile's son will manage, after winning the awesome contest, to woo his emotionally frozen target ('this ice that gives you fire, and from your fire takes ice') -- the curious fusion of intelligence, intuition and atavistic wisdom that seems uniquely Calaf's -- remains at this point in the opera a mystery still to be revealed. The ensuing Act 3 wooing scene (Puccini was dead before it was completed), together with the death of Liu, surely constitutes one of the most subtle, touching sequences in all opera.

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Copyright © 7 October 2001 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK

 

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