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Turandot

The Royal Opera

Andrei Serban’s staging of Puccini’s final opera is a glorious pageant of rich colour, dance and drama.

Most recent performance

There are currently no scheduled performances of Turandot. It was last on stage 5–16 July 2017 as part of the Summer 2016/17 season.

The Story

Princess Turandot has sworn that no man shall marry her unless he can correctly answer three riddles. Prince Calaf, captivated by Turandot’s beauty, takes up the challenge.

Read more… (Contains spoilers)

Background

‘I will win’ exclaims Prince Calaf as he boldly sets out to thaw the heart of the ice princess Turandot. In the final months of his life Puccini struggled to depict Calaf’s triumph: he died before finishing the final act. Turandot was completed by Franco Alfano two years later and given its premiere in 1926 at La Scala, Milan. During this initial performance the conductor Arturo Toscanini famously laid down his baton in Act III, declaring ‘at this point, the Maestro died’. Turandot went on to worldwide success.

Puccini creates a rich soundworld for this dark fairytale. The opera contains many memorable arias, from ‘Signore, ascolta’, as Liù appeals to Calaf not to attempt Turandot’s deadly riddles, to Turandot’s defiant ‘In questa reggia’. The opera also contains one of the most famous of all arias – ‘Nessun dorma’, sung as Calaf anticipates winning the Princess’s hand and immortalized in popular culture most of all by Luciano Pavarotti. Andrei Serban’s spectacular staging transports its audience to a beautiful but savage world. Sally Jacobs’s colourful sets and costumes are inspired by ancient Chinese culture, reflecting the traditional Chinese melodies woven into the score.

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