Opera Review: Turandot
© The Flash List | April 6, 2013
The Dallas Opera at the Winspear Opera House
By Giacomo Puccini, Libretto by Guiseppe Adami and Renato Simoni
Conductor Marco Zambelli, Stage Director Garnett Bruce
Sung in Italian with English supertitles
The answer is yes. If you're wondering whether you should go see Turandot this month at The Dallas Opera, the answer is emphatically yes.
Extended favorable reaction from the audience during the opening night curtain call (interpret as sustained applause and a lot of hootin' and hollerin' by well-dressed Dallasites) bodes well for the success of the production which includes a free live simulcast at Cowboys Stadium next week for which 20,000 people have already RSVP'd.
In one of the most popular of all operatic works, and the last of its kind from the era of Italian grand opera, celebrated composer Giacomo Puccini offers us a musical story that rings just as familiar today as when it first premiered at La Scala in Milan in 1926. Boy loves girl. Emotionally-afflicted girl shuns love to avoid vulnerability. Determined boy disregards admonition and tenaciously pursues girl anyway.
Love is put to the test (literally) when the foreign prince Calàf (Tenor Antonello Palombi) becomes hopelessly smitten with the beautifully alluring but cold and calculating Princess Turandot (Soprano Lise Lindstrom making her Dallas Opera debut). To win her hand, Calàf must answer three riddles correctly or face death. Winning her heart, however, will require an even greater sacrifice.
Based on a Carlo Gozzi fable and set in ancient China during the terrible year of the tiger, Turandot is a thrilling tale of risk and desire incorporating an exciting and suspenseful plotline, exotic Chinese melodies, elaborate set designs for each of its three acts, and a large chorus providing the city's populace as well as its pageantry. Stunning costumes range from elegant royal garments and various types of headdress to the long studded coats of the guards and the loin cloths of the masked executioners.
The role of Calàf's aging father Timur is portrayed by Bass Christian Van Horn, and Timur's faithful and steadfast servant girl Liù (secretly in love with Calàf) is sung by Soprano Hei-Kyung Hong. Ministers Ping, Pang, and Pong (Baritone Jonathan Beyer, Tenor Joseph Hu, and Tenor Daniel Montenegro, respectively) provide whimsical comic relief as well as a wearied 'insiders' view as they reflect upon their professional boredom and futilely attempt to dissuade Calàf from his endeavors by enticing him with a succession of women, jewels, and glory … all to no avail.
This stirring tale of overcoming obstacles and beating the odds is great for first-time opera goers and aficionados alike. The exciting action is easy to follow (although you should definitely make sure your seats allow for good viewing of the supertitle translations above the stage), the three acts are divided by two intermissions for a three hour total run time, and we suspect that the performance will play well on the huge video screens at Cowboys Stadium.
Turandot runs through April 21, 2013 with an informative pre-opera talk be given by Hank Hammett one hour before each performance in Hamon Hall at the Winspear Opera House. Tickets are also available now for Dominick Argento’s The Aspern Papers (April 12, 14, 17, 20, 28, 2013), an opera in two acts sung in English about the games people play to achieve their twisted desires!