Puccini’s final opera is an epic fairy tale set in a China of legend, loosely based on a play by 18th-century Italian dramatist Carlo Gozzi.
Featuring a most unusual score with an astounding and innovative use of chorus and orchestra, it is still recognizably Puccini, bursting with instantly appealing melody.
Sunday 7 July at 6.00pm on RNZ Concert
The unenviable task of completing the opera’s final scene upon Puccini’s sudden death was left to the composer Franco Alfano. Conductor Arturo Toscanini oversaw Alfano’s contribution and led the world premiere.
The large Turandot orchestra calls for a wide variety of instruments, including alto saxophones, celesta, bass xylophone, harps, and an organ. There are several genuine Chinese themes that are integrated into the score in a suave and brilliantly original manner, including the big imperial anthem in Act II.
The opera also contains moments of sheer melodic beauty in Puccini’s most lyrical vein, most notably in the tenor’s unforgettable song of triumph, “Nessun dorma!,” which opens Act III.
Tiziana Caruso (soprano, Turandot),
Thiago Arancam (tenor, Calàf),
Nadja Stefanoff (soprano, Liù),
Rúni Brattaberg (bass, Timur),
Andrew Moran (baritone, Ping),
Robert McFarlane (tenor, Pang),
Richard Greager (tenor, Pong),
Christopher Lincoln Bogg (tenor, Emperor Altoum),
Warwick Fyfe (baritone, Mandarin),
The Freemasons New Zealand Opera Chorus, Viva Voce, Children’s Chorus, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra/Eckehard Stier
Recorded in Town Hall, Auckland by RNZ