on 5 May 2007
This is a lavishly staged production filmed in Barcelona in 2004 - sumptuous costumes, enormous sets, dozens of extras - which left me somewhat unsatisfied. None of the singers are particularly outstanding in their roles, and the glossy production values rob the story of much of the human element which seems to get brushed aside. Inevitably the closest it gets to the spirituality of the piece is in Barbara Fritolli's Liu, and although she sings well, I felt curiously unengaged by her performance. Luana deVol in the title role is a little harsh vocally whilst lacking the dominating stage presence needed to carry this cariacture role off. Franco Farina as Calaf is not a tenor of the first rank, and his voice tends to spread when he tries to exert volume - although when he is not singing 'forte' there is some lovely tone to his voice.
The production by Nuria Espert is hampered by some frankly bizarre costume designs by Franca Squarciapino - a sort of cross between a pagan Far Eastern civilisation (with references of Orientalism) and science fiction Star Wars worlds. The huge sets are also used rather irrationally, which is at odds with the relative "realism" of the staging - for example the buddhist rock figure in the cliffface at the back of the stage periodically opens up to reveal scenes and characters inside. And Espert has "reinterpreted" Puccini's unfinished ending according to reservations he had about the final scene before he died - this production doesn't end happily in a loving embrace!
The recording quality is excellent as with all this TDK series, and worth seeing, despite all the negative points I seem to have been making, but I don't particularly want to see this one again.
on 17 November 2011
I saw the original 1999 performance of this Turandot production and despite the superb stage design and costumes my lasting impression was of the singing. The leads were the worst singers on stage and Calaf was so bad that even Paul Potts would have done a better job.
Fortunately this 2007 performance is an immense improvement yet still only manages to drag itself into the 'mediocre' category.
Of course, the only reason this production should attract any interest is the re-worked Alfano/Toscanini ending. Now, I'm not in principle opposed to re-imagining the final scenes or indeed to Turandot 'setting' herself with suicide but this juvenile attempt is so pathetic it insults both Puccini and Alfano. Nothing in the edits to the score provides us any justification for the final twist. It just happens.
The original Alfano ending before Toscanini's edit is quite beautiful if you are interested in alternative endings but unfortunately is difficult to find.
on 5 August 2010
the scenery of the opera is great. The music also.
We have seen this opera with pleasure, but were suprised in the end. The end they choose is possible, I think, but not likely according to the text.
that was a disappointment in a for the rest good performance.