Princess Turandot has sworn that no man shall marry her unless he can correctly answer three riddles. Prince Calaf, captivated by Turandot’s beauty, takes up the challenge, determined to win her heart or die in the attempt.
‘I will win’ exclaims Prince Calaf as he boldly sets out to thaw the heart of the ice princess Turandot. In the final months of his life Puccini struggled to depict Calaf’s triumph: he died before finishing the final act. Turandot was completed by Franco Alfano two years later and given its premiere in 1926 at La Scala, Milan. During this initial performance the conductor Arturo Toscanini famously laid down his baton in Act III, declaring ‘at this point, the Maestro died’. Turandot has gone on to have great worldwide success.
Puccini creates a rich soundworld for this dark and erotic fairytale. The opera contains many memorable arias, from ‘Signore, ascolta’, as Liù appeals to Calaf not to attempt Turandot’s deadly riddles, to Turandot’s defiant ‘In questa reggia’. Turandot also contains one of the most famous of all arias – ‘Nessun dorma’, sung as Calaf anticipates winning the Princess’s hand. Andrei ?erban’s staging – one of the most spectacular in The Royal Opera’s repertory – transports an audience to a beautiful but savage world. Sally Jacobs’s colourful sets and costumes are inspired by ancient Chinese culture, reflecting the traditional Chinese melodies woven into the score.
Sung in Italian with English surtitles.
Learn more about London operas within the West End.