FRESH AND ENGAGING
RODERIC DUNNETT reports on
Chisinau National Opera's '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.
Copyright © 7 October 2001
Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK
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