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Turandot was played by Deborah Stoddart. If you want to hear an ideal Turandot, you only have to listen to Dame Eva Turner. Stoddart's Turandot successfully aimed at emulating Dame Eva's virtues. Stoddart sang with gleaming tone, a fine firm line and a not overly present vibrato. She rode the orchestra at climaxes but did far more than simply scream the role; I look forward to hearing her again in a fully staged production.
Calaf was played by John Upperton. Upperton does not have the most Italianate of tone, but he sang Calaf with a firm passionate vocal line and even tone from top to bottom of the voice. He was also tireless, producing ringing top notes until the very end; in this version Calaf and Turandot sing top Cs over the final chorus, a thrilling effect well realised by Stoddart and Upperton.
Emma Dogliani made a slightly cool Liù, but with a nice shapely vocal line. Rupert Pentargon was a moving Timur. Trevor Alexander, Brian Parsons and Anthony Hawgood possibly had the hardest job, as the roles of Ping, Pang and Pong don't lend themselves well to concert performance -- they need theatrical antics as well. But the three singers made a pretty strong case.
Conductor David Roblou and his forces gave a strong, gripping performance of the first two and a half acts, making the concert presentation tell and producing real involving drama. But it was with Alfano's complete ending that they ventured into new territory. Alfano allows Turandot and Calaf a quite considerable duet before the final scene. It is during this that Turandot finally thaws, something that Stoddart captured nicely. It must be admitted that musically Alfano wanders a bit and the duet sounds rather more like Alfano than Puccini. But Midsummer Opera made a very strong case for this version of the opera and once again I hope that it might be taken up by one of the bigger companies.
This production was a huge achievement for a relatively small company and was made all the more so by the way the group successfully championed the rarely performed complete ending.
Copyright © 14 November 2007
Robert Hugill, London UK
THE BROADWAY THEATRE, CATFORD