Opera Australia presents a return season of Graeme Murphy’s grand vision of Puccini’s masterpiece, Turandot, set in imperial Peking, Taking the title role is American soprano Lise Lindstrom who has taken the role by storm in the major houses around the world and on film. Singing the role of Prince Calaf is Korean born new York based Yonghoon Lee who won Sydney audiences as Cavaradossi in Tosca in 2013.
Opening at Sydney Opera House on 24 June 2015, Puccini’s Turandot is an exotic opera of riddle and intrigue where failure in love means certain death. Its themes display the fascination of the western world as it began to discover the east. Turandot is full of the aesthetics of Orientalism.
The role of the heartless Princess Turandot who sends failed suitors to their deaths is one of the most challenging for a dramatic soprano. Lotte Lehmann, Eva Turner, Birgit Nilsson, Gwyneth Jones, Jennifer Wilson and Leona Mitchell are some of the high-octane sopranos who have graced this role over the past decades. (Deborah Humble recently interviewed Lise Lindstrom for SoundsLikeSydney. Click here to read the full interview).
Turandot is full of innovation, melody, exotic harmony and dramatic moments in music. But perhaps its most famous aria, rightly or wrongly, was made famous by Luciano Pavarotti when he sang Calaf’s aria Nessun Dorma (None Shall Sleep) at the 1990 World Cup and seemed to linger for an eternity with grace yet power on the ending high B flat. “Vincerò” he sang – “I will win! I will win!” determined to evade death and conquer his princess. The plaintive Signore, ascolta sung by the slave girl Liù and Turandot’s In questa reggia provide more unforgettable moments in what is considered to be Puccini’s most perfect musical and dramatic creation.
The large orchestra includes alto saxophones, celesta, bass xylophone, harps, and an organ. Puccini integrated several Chinese melodies into the score, including the mighty imperial anthem in Act II.
Puccini struggled with the ending of the opera for 2 years. When he died on 29 November 1924, he left 36 pages of rudimentary sketches for the final scene. At Toscanini’s suggestion these were handed over to Franco Alfano the Italian pianist and composer for completion. But at the opera’s première 17 months later which Toscanini himself conducted, Toscanini laid down his baton after the death of Liù, the last music composed by Puccini stating“Here the maestro died”.
Graeme Murphy’s highly theatrical production of Turandot was last seen in Sydney in 2012 and Christian Badea returns to Australia to conduct following his success with Otello in 2014. Murphy’s production includes his own distinctive choreography, sculptural stagecraft and larger than life costumes. This production is now considered a classic in the Opera Australia repertoire.
American soprano Lise Lindstrom has left an indelible impression on audiences and critics worldwide with her interpretation of the role of Turandot,. Her 2013/14 season concluded with two career milestones: her 10th season singing the title role in Turandot and her 100th performance in the role with Royal Opera, Covent Garden, which was broadcast live to theatres throughout the U.K. and
Europe. This appearance with Opera Australia marks her Australian debut.
Since his debut as Don Carlo in Santiago, Chile in 2007, Yonghoon Lee has established himself internationally as a leading lirico-spinto tenor. In the 2010/2011 season he made four international debuts, at the Metropolitan Opera in the title role of the new production of Don Carlos, at the Teatro alla Scala as Turridu in Cavalleria Rusticana, and at both the Vienna State Opera and the Semper Oper in Dresden as Cavaradossi in Tosca.
Joining director and choreographer Graeme Murphy in Turandot’s creative team are conductors Christian Badea (until 31 July) and Benjamin Northey (until 28 August), set and costume designer Kristian Fredrikson and lighting designer John Drummond Montgomery.
Joining Lise Lindstrom (until 31 July), Zara Barrett (until 28 August), Yonghoon Lee (until 31 July) and Rosario La Spina (until 28 August) are
Hyeseoung Kwon (until 31 July) and Daria Masiero (until 28 August) as Liù, Jud Arthur (until 31 July) and Pelham Andrews (until 28 August) as Timur, John Longmuir, Graeme Macfarlane and Luke Gabbedy as Pong, Pang and Ping, Benjamin Rasheed as the Emperor, Gennadi Dubinsky a the Mandarin, Leah Thomas and Katherine Wiles as the Handmaidens and Jin Tea Kim as the Prince of Persia.
With the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra and the Opera Australia Chorus
Running time: Two hours and forty-five minutes including one thirty-minute interval and one twenty-minute interval
Adult tickets from $69 (fees may apply)/Group and concession prices available for most performances.
Student Rush available for most performances: $50 (fees may apply)
Book at www.opera.org.au or call (02) 9318 8200