The Jury was delighted to see a new production from Opera Australia, after giving rave reviews to several of their other productions last year (Lakmé, Don Giovanni and La Traviata). But it must be said that the consistently high quality we have now come to expect from Sydney (or in this case, Melbourne) really is unique. And "Turandot" could be the greatest achievement of them all, since it is an opera that needs a creative approach to make it come alive. We have all seen too many "Turandots" that are so tiresomely static that even the superb music seems to pall after a while... But not this one! For director Graeme Murphy brings a whole new dimension to this production by adding dancers and his own distinctive choreographic style - enhanced by some very creative camera work. The result is quite dazzling and the Jury was extremely impressed - and moved - as some of their comments show:
"Great staging in terms of the number of singers and dancers, the costumes, the interplay of flags and the choreography... I almost felt I was there, in China! The voices were beautiful, and I particularly enjoyed those of Turandot (Susan Foster) and Liu (Hyeseoung Kwon)... "
Authenticity was in fact something that several Jury members singled out for special comment:
"The choreography, chorus movements and set design were superb. As always, the music was stirring and delightful. Plus, everyone's movements were very authentically Chinese. The tenor sang beautifully, despite being a bit wooden -- unlike Timus his father, who moved me to tears with his farewell... All in all I found this performance quite thrilling."
Yes, there were one or two reservations about the casting of the two major characters, but the overall impression is best summed up in the quote below:
"Excellent production, and while the casting of the two main characters may not be ideal, their voices are more than a match for these challenging parts. Together with the spectacular staging and expert choreography, this has to be the best production of Turandot currently available on Blu-Ray."
(*The OperaDou Jury is made up of at least 12 professional classical musicians, dancers and seasoned opera & ballet afficionados who meet at the L'OperaDou "Home Opera Theatre" in the south of France to review classical HD productions and share their opinions with a global audience. More details can be found by Googling "OperaDou". The complete review and all Video Crits can be consulted on the "Turandot" page at "OperaDou Archives").