Monday, January 28, 2013

Opera Outing: Turandot at the Met

TD and I recently took our nephew Aaron on his first trip to the Metropolitan Opera to see Turandot by Puccini. You know Turandot – the Pekingese princess who had her suitors executed if they did not answer three riddles correctly. What a fun date she must have been...

This was the last opera by Puccini, who had already completed some of the most popular in the repertoire including La Boheme, Tosca, and Madame Butterfly. In fact Turandot was unfinished in 1924 when Puccini died suddenly of a heart attack.

The last bit of Turandot was completed by Franco Alfano in 1926, and the opera premiered in Milan that same year. The production at the Met was designed by Franco Zeffirelli in 1987 and is renowned for its sparkle, extravagance and golden glitter. In fact, the intermission between the first and second acts was almost one hour long in order to complete the set change for Princess Turandot's fantastic Chinese palace (pictured at the top of this post) which featured bridges, ponds, columns and roofed turrets. The glorious music, lavish costumes and ornate set created a spectacular and satisfying feast for the senses.

It's always exciting to cross the plaza at Lincoln Center and approach the Metropolitan Opera House in anticipation.

The house seats 3,800 people each night, and it looked like every seat was taken.
3,800 going in the front door –

We settled into cozy seats at the front of the balcony for a wonderful view.

I realized at intermission that part of the great pleasure of going to the Met is that everything is covered in red velvet. The seats, the railings, the stairs, the walls. It's like you're inside a jewel box, or on one long red carpet.

No photos allowed, but I did capture the cast at the curtain call. Irene Theorin played Turandot and Walter Fraccaro was Calaf, the successful suitor. The entire cast was wonderful.

Then down the red velvet stairs –

3,800 people going out - 

It's always such a treat to go the Met, and I am enjoying learning more about opera, one production at a time. What's next? Maybe Aida, another strong princess from the ancient world, courtesy of Verdi.
Blog bonus: watch the finale of Turandot at the Met –


CashmereLibrarian said...

How exciting! I'm a huge Puccini fan, but I've never seen Turandot. Hope to remedy that soon.

Likewise, I've never been to the Met, except via the Live theater broadcasts. But I've been to the Lyric opera many times, and next month will attend my second Wagner: Die Meistersinger! Can't wait.

Magnaverde said...

Turandot was a good choice for your nephew's introduction to grand opera, since it's one of the few in which everyone is still alive when the curtain falls. Everyone but the failed suitors, that is.

At the time I was hired by the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago--the biggest opera house in the world when it opened in 1889 and home base in the 1920s for Rosa Raisa, the dramatic soprano on whom Puccini created Turandot--I had never even attended a full-scale opera performance, and my own first production a few weeks later at the Civic Opera House had a more typical opera ending: all the leads were dead. But a few months after that, I saw the Lyric's David Hockney-designed production of Turandot, full of brilliantly colored sets pulsing & glowing like a Wurlitzer jukebox.

Bart Boehlert said...

Hi Bart,
That David Hockney production sounds like fun - very different from this Zeffirelli. And it is nice to have a happy ending!

LINDA from Each Little World said...

I've also seen the Hockney version but I must say that Zeffirelli's sets etc looking pretty stunning based on that clip. I once locked my keys in the car with the car running because I had been listening to Nessun Dorma. I was so into the opera that I just got out of the car in the parking lot at work in musical stupor!

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