Most recent performance
There are currently no scheduled performances of Turandot. It was last on stage 9 September 2013—10 March 2014 as part of the Autumn 2013/14 season.
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, determined to win her heart or die in the attempt.
‘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 has gone on to have great worldwide success.
Puccini creates a rich soundworld for this dark and erotic 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’. Turandot also contains one of the most famous of all arias – ‘Nessun dorma’, sung as Calaf anticipates winning the Princess’s hand. Andrei Serban’s staging – one of the most spectacular in The Royal Opera’s repertory – transports an 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.
News and features
4 June 2015
The Italian composer created some of opera’s most enchanting romances.
17 February 2015
Composers have long used magical settings to tell moving, profound and very human stories.
26 February 2014
Production features soprano Lise Lindstrom in the fiendishly difficult title role.
16 February 2014
Puccini's operas are some of the world's most loved. We look at what makes his music so appealing.
19 September 2013
A selection of audience tweets from the first live cinema broadcast of the 2013/14 Season.
18 September 2013
Another chance to catch films screened as part of our live cinema relay.
Turandot (UK /ˈtjʊər.ən.dɒt/ or US /ˈtʊr.ən.dɑːt/; Italian pronunciation: [turanˈdɔt]) is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini, completed by Franco Alfano, set to a libretto in Italian by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni. Though Puccini's first interest in the subject was based on his reading of Friedrich Schiller's adaptation of the play, his work is most nearly based on the earlier text Turandot by Carlo Gozzi. The original story is based on the epic Turan-Dokht from the book Haft-Peykar, work of 12th-century Persian poet Nizami. The opera's story is set in China and involves Prince Calàf, who falls in love with the cold Princess Turandot. To obtain permission to marry her, a suitor has to solve three riddles; any wrong answer results in death. Calàf passes the test, but Turandot still refuses to marry him. He offers her a way out: if she is able to learn his name before dawn the next day, then at daybreak he will die.The opera was unfinished at the time of Puccini's death in 1924, and was completed by Franco Alfano in 1926. The first performance was held at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan on 25 April 1926 and conducted by Arturo Toscanini. This performance included only Puccini's music and not Alfano's additions. The first performance of the opera as completed by Alfano was the following night, 26 April, although it is disputed whether this was conducted by Toscanini again or by Ettore Panizza.