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Two of opera’s most thrilling dramatic sopranos, Christine Goerke and Nina Stemme, reprise their fierce portrayals of the title princess. Yannick Nézet-Séguin takes the podium to conduct Franco Zeffirelli’s dazzling production of Puccini’s final masterpiece, which also features tenors Roberto Aronica and Marco Berti as Calàf, sopranos Eleonora Buratto and Hibla Gerzmava as Liù, and bass-baritones James Morris and Nicolas Testé as Timur.
Production a gift of Mrs. Donald D. Harrington
Languages sung in Turandot
Title languages displayed for Turandot
Met Titles In
Timeline for the show, Turandot
Estimated Run Time
3 hrs 2 mins
World premiere: Teatro alla Scala, Milan, 1926. Puccini’s final opera is an epic fairy tale set in a China of legend, loosely based on a play by 18th-century Italian dramatist Carlo Gozzi. Featuring a most unusual score with an astounding and innovative use of chorus and orchestra, it is still recognizably Puccini, bursting with instantly appealing melody. The unenviable task of completing the opera’s final scene upon Puccini’s sudden death was left to the composer Franco Alfano. Conductor Arturo Toscanini oversaw Alfano’s contribution and led the world premiere.
Giacomo Puccini (1858–1924) was immensely popular in his own lifetime, and his mature works remain staples in the repertory of most of the world’s opera companies. Franco Alfano (1875–1954) wrote nine operas, of which Cyrano de Bergerac (1936) is still occasionally performed today. The librettists for Turandot were the playwright Giuseppe Adami (1878–1946), who had previously worked with Puccini on Il Tabarro and La Rondine, and the journalist Renato Simoni (1875–1952).
Anna Anni and Dada Saligeri
In Gozzi’s play, the original commedia dell’arte characters wandered from Italy to China and were members of the Imperial court. Their comments satirized Venetian politics and mores of the times. Puccini and his librettists dispensed with any such relevance. The China of this opera, set in “legendary times,” is a mythic realm viewed from the exoticizing perspective of 20th-century Europeans.
The large Turandot orchestra calls for a wide variety of instruments, including alto saxophones, celesta, bass xylophone, harps, and an organ. There are several genuine Chinese themes that are integrated into the score in a suave and brilliantly original manner, including the big imperial anthem in Act II. The opera also contains moments of sheer melodic beauty in Puccini’s most lyrical vein, most notably in the tenor’s unforgettable song of triumph, “Nessun dorma,” which opens Act III.