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The ancient Chinese fable. A metaphor of existence in the sumptuous staging of Giuliano Montaldo, conducted by Pinchas Steinberg
Teatro Regio, Wednesday, 12th February 2014 at 20:00
After Madama Butterfly, Turandot takes the centre stage at the Teatro Regio from 12th to 27thFebruary, being followed by Tosca and Gianni Schicchi. It is a Puccini Festival within the 2013-2014 season dedicating to this composer the honours already bestowed upon Verdi.
The sumptuous staging comes to us from the Teatro Carlo Felice of Genoa and it is directed by Giuliano Montaldo. This Genovese director, author of the masterpieces of cinema such as Sacco e Vanzetti, L’Agnese va a morire and I demoni di San Pietroburgo, has created his Turandot thanks to “team effort, like in the movies.” In fact, the impressive scenes of Luciano Ricceri, the elaborate costumes by Elisabetta Montaldo, lights by Andrea Anfossi and the choreography by Giovanni di Cicco contribute to the creation of a direction similar to that of a blockbuster film, to bring to life the full on the story of the icy Turandot, set in Beijing at a time of fairy tales.
The maestro Pinchas Steinberg, critically acclaimed for his sensitivity and depth of interpretation in particular of the twentieth century repertoire, conducts the Orchestra of the Teatro Regio. The performances of 25, 26 and 27 February will instead be directed by the young Giampaolo Bisanti. As it is well known this opera requires a significant presence of the choir and so, prepared by Claudio Fenoglio, the Chorus of the Teatro Regio will join the Children's Choir of the Teatro Regio and the Conservatory "G. Verdi.”
This production has been created only thanks to the Fondazione CRT.
In March 1920, Puccini met his two new collaborators in Milan: Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni. Puccini was, at that time, in the throes of great restlessness, because for months he had tried, in vain, to identify a subject for his next opera. Just when various proposals had been rejected, Simoni suggested adapting an old fable by Carlo Gozzi called: Turandot. The story of a cold Chinese princess, who thanks to the love of a man regains her humanity, interested Puccini immediately, so the two librettists began to draw up a draft. The collaboration between the musician and the two writers started auspiciously, but the relationship soon began to show its flaws. As usual Puccini needed a libretto depicting the characters in-depths before starting to compose, but Adami and Simoni could not meet his expectations.According to Puccini, the main attraction of the opera was in its finale, when as he described it himself the princess “thaws”. To no surprise the final scene was the most problematic. Puccini continually postponed the verses of the final duet, and despaired at his own inability to “find a typical, albeit vague and unusual melody”. It was the first time that the musician had to face the theme of love through redemption and wanted to approach it in a whole new way. However he was met with death before the end of the composition. To see the opera on stage, Ricordi publishing house, entrusted the completion of the score to the musician Franco Alfano (then the Director of the Conservatory of Turin). With this finale, Turandot was premiered on 25th April, 1926 conducted by Arturo Toscanini, and this is the finale chosen to be presented at the Teatro Regio.
The setting is in a far off Beijing. In the first act, the crowd anxiously awaits a new beheading: that of the Prince of Persia. Like many others he was being killed because he could not solve the three riddles that Turandot, the daughter of the Emperor of China, had propounded to any man who wanted to marry her. This deadly game was actually a macabre plan of revenge set in motion by Turandot to avenge her ancient ancestor; a woman who had been raped and then killed centuries before by an unknown king. Calaf, a dethroned prince, had just arrived in Beijing. He was lost among the crowd, when he recognised his father, the old Timur, accompanied by his faithful slave girl Liu. The prince was soon enchanted by Turandot and decides to take the test. At the solemn moment, the young man unexpectedly solved, one by one, the three riddles posed by Turandot. Despite his victory, the princess refused to marry him. However, Calaf in order to win her love proposes a conundrum in turn: if she finds out his name before dawn he will accept death, otherwise Turandot must accept defeat and marry him. Turandot orders all the inhabitants of the city to be awake the whole night to find out the name of the foreign prince, threatening to torture those who do not want to cooperate. Liu is taken prisoner, the old servant who secretly loved Calaf, and precisely because of that love, even under torture, Liu chose to commit suicide rather than revealing the name of her beloved. Turandot was deeply impressed by the power of love that was even, as shown by Liu, stronger than death. Shortly before dawn, Calaf revealed his name, thus handing his fate in the hands of the princess. Turandot shows that she had regained her humanity by announcing to the people that the name of the prince was: Love.
The three main roles require exceptional vocal effort. Turandot is the Finnish soprano Johanna Rusanen, already internationally acclaimed for her voice’s dramatic power and stage presence. This Turandot is her operatic debut in Italy. The tenor Roberto Aronica, with his unmistakable and appreciated timbre, plays Calaf for the first time. In the role of the slave girl Liu is Carmen Giannattasio, already acclaimed in the most important theatres in the world for her performances of Puccini’s heroines. Rounding out the cast: the bass Giacomo Prestia (Timur), the tenor Antonello Ceron (Altoum), the three ironic imperial councillors Ping, Pang and Pong played by Donato Di Gioia (baritone), Luca Casalin (tenor), Saverio Fiore (tenor) and the baritone Ryan Milstead (un mandarino). In the course of the eleven performances, the lead roles will take turns with: Raffaella Angeletti (Turandot ), Walter Fraccaro (Calaf) and Erika Grimaldi (Liu).
Turandot will be presented to the public by the composer Lorenzo Ferrero in the context of Incontri con l’Opera at the Piccolo Regio Puccini on Wednesday 5th February at 17:30. The “opera premiere” will be broadcast live by Rai-Radio3 on Wednesday, 12th February at 20:00. As usual, you can follow the backstage and find out entertaining curiosity about interpreters and fittings, looking at the Pills of Passion by Paola Giunti on our website: www.teatroregio.torino.it and on our channel YouTube.com/TeatroRegioTorino.
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Turin, 7 february 2014
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