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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is a top Turandot, where Turandot's vocalizing is concerns, 15 Oct. 2009
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This review is from: Turandot [DVD] [2011] (DVD)
At the moment there are two DVDs of Turandot to consider; (the Blu-ray version with Mehta is a huge disappointment, so do not fall into that Blu-ray trap), but the other two should be concerned as top notch.
The one we are dealing with here is a DVD with Ghena Dimitrova in the title roll of Turandot, and the second DVD has Eva Marton in the role of Turandot (Metropolitan production/ Levine conducting).

A direct comparison between these two star's voices as Turandot is rewarding:
Even with the 'personalized' microphone extensively used to capture the sound of the Verona Arena, one could perceive how big and intense Ghena Dimitrova's voice actually is (when she begun to sing - I though for a second that she might be a latent Mezzo-Soprano, that's where her lower register is concern... I later went to the internet to look her up and was, not much surprised, that at the on-start of her vocal studies she was categorized as a Mezzo-Soprano).
And here lies the clove between Ghena Dimitrova, and Eva Marton: Eva Marton has very little substance to her voice at the lower register, so much so that to a degree it almost disappears (sunken-down for a duration of a phrase or two).

One should also observe that Ghena Dimitrova's lower register is "cut from a slightly different kind of cloth" than her mid-register and surly from her top register. Both singer's mid-register and top register is full throat with a lot of substance and "bloom" (Eva Marton's top register is more 'silvery' - while Ghena Dimitrova's sound more like a 'golden trumpet' and is pushed forward with lots of muscle.
Both are an excellent choice for Turandot.

The staging with the Verona Arena can hardly compete with the colorful Franco Zeffirelli Metropolitan opera staging.
With all of the people on the Arena stage it still looks unpopulated. One can only imagine what that stage would look like with a grand Zeffirelli staging...

The supporting cast for the metropolitan (Levin conducting/Zeffirelli staging) is as good as that of the Verona Arena:
On the Metropolitan DVD we have Timur's portrayal by Paul Frishka which is inspiring and holds well against veteran Ivo Vinco that sings this role for the Verona Arena.
While Liu portrayal with Cecilia Gasodia (for the Arena production) has the best ever Liu singing: the voice is fresh, young-sounding, almost innocent, and her looks is so childish, girlish-like that it immediately convinces you it is the real thing (I am quite certain that the singer Cecilia Gasodia would make a marvelous Mimi in La-Bohem, Marguerite in Faust, Gilda in Rigoletto and more...)
Yet, Leona Mitchel for the Metropolitan/Levin/Zeffirelli in that same roll makes the text and her reasoning for staying with the old blind king a heart breaking conviction when she sings, "because ones, st the old palace, you have smiled at me..." that's what she says to Calaf Timur's son.
The way Leona Mitchell (Metropolitan/Levin works that phrase out makes the whole Liu character clear and justified. (Actually, because of that musical passage Liu's roll is much more clearer than Turandot's motivation as a whole).
And than you have Placido Domingo for the Metropolitan...(though a bit later in his carrier but still in excellent vocal shape, where he still can touch the Nessun Dorma;s high note - and unfortunately have to let it go in a very short span of time not holding to it like the younger Martinucci (for the Arena production). Martinucci's voice is fresh, right into the pitch, silvery and exact. He should be consider as one of the best Italian tenors for this and other high-voltage roles for his voice treads in the best sense of the true Italian singing tradition (one would wish he was a foot taller and build more robustly, however so as to posses a more stage vigor.
Amongst other singers in the support cast one should not forget the old emperor's roll: just a short remark here: the Metropolitan has the best ever emperor in sung/played/spoken/ veteran Hugues Cuenod (I believe he is on stage for more than 50 years now...)

To sum it all up: The choice is both these productions:
You CAN NOT fully grasp what the Turandot roll in singing is all about without both productions.
This is an extremely difficult roll with a lot of demands on the voice. It has to be sung almost all of the time in Forte and increase to Fore-Fortissimo; one high note leading to an even higher note with no pause for a breath in between (it is not for nothing that Ghena Dimitrova tells the interviewer on teh internet review that she do not like to sing this roll too many times. Callas said she abandoned this roll at the first chance she got. Lilly Lehman said she would prefer to sing three Isolda(s) and not one Turandot...)
This is a difficult roll carried superbly by both; Ghena Dimitrova - and Eva Marton.
My personal tendency is towards Ghena Dimitrova and the Verona Arena if only for the pure vocal talents there.
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Location: Belgium, Europe

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