Sunday, 22 January 2012

Turandot, January 21th 2012

I had come to Zurich to see Jose Cura as Calaf. But he got a serious head cold so he couldn't sing. Johan Botha was to sing instead. It was like Lohengrin singing Calaf, I thought. But his large girth did not prevent him much to be an effective Calaf. He has a big and beautiful, clear voice. He stood and delivered the goods, but his acting consisted mainly of smiling. Those smiles seemed to me to come sometimes at inapprobiate times, but maybe it was another way of telling that Calaf is more of a cad than a romantic hero.

Martina Serafin was Turandot. She was very different from Paoletta Marrocu as Turandot in this production. Unfortunately she had some difficulties in the aria "In questa reggia" where the demands of the role seemed to somewhat beyond her so Botha's voice could easily overwhelm her in the "enigmi sono tre, la morte una". Martina Serafin was an otherwise great Turandot who I am sure will be able to takle all the demands of Turandot in a few years.

I also came to Zurich to see Isabel Rey as Liu. She was great. From a somewhat weak Signore, ascolta in the first act to the most wonderful and greatest rendition of Tu che in gel sei cinta. Wow, that was amazing!!!

Pavel Daniluk was simply an amazing Timur. His voice was grand and demanding.

What can one say abou the production? Partly it is super traditional, and partly modern. The action does happen in China, in legendary times. BUT the unknown prince (Calaf), Timur and Liu is dressed modernly. AND Calaf uses a computer to answer the riddles. The audience laughed when Johan Botha took the computer. In April 2006 (last time I saw this production) they did not laugh when Cura took the computer. But naturally it was silly then and now. But I guess then it was not so strange to see the chorus dressed in modern cloths when Turandot tells that she know the name of the stranger: His name is Love. Then we are in modern Shanghai and Turandot disrobes her traditional dress to the modern one, and Calaf and Turandot can enjoy a champagne, romantic meal served by modern times Ping, Pang and Pong.

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