(Opera Australia, Sydney Opera House, 18 July 2015)
By Guest Reviewer
The majesty of the Chinese culture is a background piece when put against the heart and soul of Puccini’s Turandot. Saturday night at the Sydney Opera House, amidst coats scarves and freezing conditions, we were engulfed by the warmth and escapism of this story.
Being directed and choreographed by Graeme Murphy, the production was full of flowing moves, giving us moments of not knowing where to look. So much, so many and so… well at one moment I thought ‘opening ceremony’ meets mardi gras..but that is harsh. It may have been distracting had not the performances been magnificent.
We loved the slave girl, Liù (Hyeseoung Kwon), the main man Calaf (Yonghoun Lee) delivering the Nessun dorma aria with heart and gusto, and the ice princess Turandot (Lise Lindstrom*) melting under the power of looove. It is an opera with the chorus on stage a lot, evocatively singing the mood of the populace.
Puccini never finished this, his 12th opera, with the last act written after his death by Alfano. It could have easily ended by putting the prince to death or Turandot herself suiciding from guilt over her cruel behaviour; however, the option chosen was to declare love! A very optimistic option.
Leaving the theatre hearing faces in the crowd humming Nessun Dorma, with myself having the self same inclination to belt out the aria (an optimistic vindication of the music’s potency), I thought this is the reason we go to opera, to be filled with emotion and to be touched by music.
Conclusion : an epic night at the opera.Handa san is now arranging what looks to be a Vegas-style Turandot for Sydney harbour in the near future. No sleep is likely as the water traffic chugs its way past old Peking…]