17, 20, 23, 26, 28, 31 October 2018
Dramma lirico in three acts. Music by Giacomo Puccini, completed by Franco Alfano (author of the last duo and the final scene). Libretto by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni, after the eponymous play by Carlo Gozzi. Premiere: Milan, Teatro alla Scala, 25th April 1926.
With the collaboration of: Turisme Comunitat Valenciana
Estimated running time: 2 h 51 min
Chen Tong Xun
Palau de les Arts
Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana
Cor de la Generalitat Valenciana
Escolania de la Mare de Déu dels Desemparats
Jennifer Wilson (17)
Rebeka Lokar (20, 31)
Teresa Romano (23, 26, 28)
Amadi Lagha (26)
Damián del Castillo
Pablo García López
Altoum/Principe di Persia
*Centre Plácido Domingo
Outside the city walls of Pekin, Princess Turandot has sworn that she will only marry a man of royal blood who can solve the three riddles that she has prepared. Anyone who tries to answer the riddles and fails will be decapitated. As a massive crowd fills the square, a Mandarin announces that the Prince of Persia has failed to solve the riddles and will die when the moon appears. The jubilant crowd shouts for the execution to be carried out immediately, but then recedes as the guards beat them back. Hiding among the mass of people is the blind, dethroned King of the Tartars, Timur, along with his Chinese slave Liu. In the midst of all the confusion, Timur falls and when Liu begs those around her to help, a mysterious prince offers his assistance. He is Calaf, who at once recognizes that Timur is his father. He explains that he is traveling incognito because his enemies are searching for him. Timur explains to the Prince how he fled accompanied by Liu, who offered to serve as his guide. When the Prince asks why she has risked her life for the exiled King, she replies that Calaf once smiled at her.
Meanwhile, as the executioner sharpens his sword, the masses, who are impatiently awaiting the appearance of the moon, demand the beheading of the Persian prince. However, when he finally appears before the crowds, his youth and sorrowful expression evoke cries for compassion. Calaf joins in, calling Turandot evil and cruel. At that moment, the Princess appears and her radiant beauty enraptures Calaf. Even as she gives the signal to behead the Persian, the Prince of the Tartars falls under her spell. Despite the pleas of Timur and Liu, Calaf runs to the gong that is used to announce a possible suitor. The Emperor’s ministers, Ping, Pang and Pong, also try to dissuade the young Prince by describing the horrible death that awaits him should he fail to solve the riddles. They urge him to remember that, in the end, Turandot is a woman just like any other.
Turandot’s ladies in waiting enter and ask the crowd to be quiet, as their mistress is resting. When they leave, the Prince, encouraged by the ghosts of previous suitors, insists that he is willing and able to solve the riddles. Once more, Liu begs him not to go. He tries to comfort her, but, bewitched by a vision of Turandot, he utters the princess’ name and sounds the gong.
A pavilion in the palace. Ping, Pang, and Pong talk of China’s lamentable situation, remarking that until the birth of Turandot, all was as it should be according to the old laws. Reduced to mere ministers of the executioner, they recount numerous suitors who have met their deaths: eight in the Year of the Dog, six in the Year of the Rat, and thirty in the current Year of the Tiger, including, of course, the mysterious Prince for whom they hold no hope. The ministers long for the day in which Turandot finally succumbs to the power of love.
A plaza in front of the Imperial Palace. As the people gather, the great drum and the trumpets announce the ceremony of the riddles. Emperor Altoum is acclaimed by the crowd as the “Son of Heaven” and they desire him one thousand years of life. Eight wise men accompany him, carrying the manuscripts with the answers to the riddles. The Emperor, who regrets his promise to uphold the law mandating that Turandot’s unsuccessful suitors must be killed, attempts to dissuade the Prince from going on with the ceremony. He has seen too many fine young men go to their deaths. Seeing that Calaf refuses to listen to the Emperor’s warning, the Mandarin finishes reading the law.
Turandot enters and talks of her ancestor Lou-Ling, who was kidnapped and assassinated by the Tartars two thousand years before. Turandot takes her vengeance now on all who would possess her. She asks the three riddles. “What is born every evening and dies at dawn?” The Prince replies, “Hope.” “What can be set alight like a flame, yet is not fire?” Calaf answers, “Blood.” Finally she asks, “What is the ice that sets fire to your soul?” Triumphantly the Prince answers, “Turandot.” As the crowd cheers, a surprised Turandot begs her father not to make her marry the stranger, who has, of course, answered the riddles correctly. The Emperor, however, responds that his promise is sacred. The Prince then suggests that if she can find out his name, he will exonerate the Princess of her promise and allow himself to be executed. Turandot accepts his challenge.
The palace gardens, right before dawn, although the city is awake. Turandot has decreed that no one shall sleep until she has discovered the name of the Prince. If she fails to do so, all will die. The masses threaten Calaf and ask him to tell them his name to avoid being tortured. Ping, Pang and Pong try to persuade him to flee and save his life; they even tempt him with beautiful women and treasure. When the soldiers bring Timur and Liu in, Turandot asks them the Prince’s name and threatens to torture Timur. To save him, Liu says that she is the only one who knows the Prince’s real name, but she refuses to say it, even under torture.
When Turandot asks her what power obliges her to keep silent, Liu answers that it is the power of love. She goes on to predict that Turandot will also come to love him. Fearing that she will blurt out the name and determined not to do so, Liu takes one of the soldier’s daggers and commits suicide. As the masses ask her to say his name, Liu stumbles toward the Prince and dies. Confused, the blind Timur kneels by her side and begs her to rise, but he is told that she is dead. They bear away her body, followed by the crowd. The Prince remains alone with Turandot. He rushes to her, removes her veil, and, over her protests, kisses her passionately. The icy Princess melts in his arms. As dawn breaks, she confesses that she had nothing but disdain for the other suitors. For him, however, she had both hatred and fear: he conquered her. The Prince, knowing that he has won her heart, finally reveals his name: Calaf, son of Timur. The Emperor and his court are awaiting Turandot’s news. She tells her father that she now knows the stranger’s name; it is Love. The crowd rejoices as Turandot and Calaf fall into a passionate embrace.