An excellent Turandot that Corelli fans will cherish!
Turandot is an opera that has always been very special to me, since singing in the chorus in 2007 for it. It's not my favourite Puccini opera though, I have more a fondness for La Boheme and especially Tosca, but it has some great arias and the story and characters are certainly memorable. This, like the Marton/Domingo/Mitchell and Marton/Carreras/Ricciarelli performances, is an excellent Turandot, perhaps not the very best overall, but for those who love Franco Corelli, Puccini or the opera will love it I think.
If there is anything that could've been better, it was the videography. Some of it is very dark and part of Liu's aria Signor Ascolta is lost. However, it does have imperial-looking sets and the costumes have a oriental enough look to them. There are some interesting visual touches, especially the idea to have the Executioner completely hooded, which made him even more threatening, Corelli's eyes lit by light as he looks intently at Turandot and having the Emperor as a white silhouette.
The music is predictably phenomenal, and has a powerful orchestra and conductor to give it justice. The final duet is cut, such as with Turandot confessing that she loved Calaf from the first moment she set eyes on him, here it does sort of work but I find these lines in the opera give Turandot some humanity. This Turandot also has the most innovative-looking chorus I've seen for this opera, dancing exotically with the music with emphasis on orchestration and harmony.
Franco Corelli is just magnificent as Calaf. In fact I'd go as far to say he is my favourite Calaf of all time. Finally a Calaf, after many productions where it's Liu, that steals the show! He is on top form vocally, the singing is ringing and beautiful with Nessun Dorma thrillingly sung and much more than the tenor showcase that I hear today a lot, Non Piangere Liu tender and the whole enigma scene heroic and defiant. He acts wonderfully, never stolid but heroic and firm, and his tall and handsome looks help as well.
When it comes to the supporting cast they are generally good, Ping, Pong and Pang are very nasty and funny, managing to steal every scene they appear in(Ping especially has a very beautiful voice), and Plinio Clabassi is a noble and sympathetic Timur with a rich voice, and he is very moving after Liu's death in Act 3, phrasing his music with intelligence and sensitivity. Lucille Udovich is very good on the whole as Turandot, she is chilling during In Questa Reggia and during the Enigma scene, and sings powerfully during Act 2. Act 3 vocally wasn't as good, there is some harshness, but overall I very much liked her.
Renata Mattioli is a good if sometimes disappointing Liu. Signor Ascolta is very poignant I give you that and she looks the part of the innocent slave girl, but Liu's really heart-wrenching moments come in Act 3 and while the musicality was great and she is very affecting before she dies, some of her high notes in the passage where she says she'd rather be tortured rather than reveal Calaf's real name sound rather shrill for my liking. Overall, it is an excellent Turandot and worth seeing for Corelli alone. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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