Turandot: Live in HD Transmission Transcript

READ: Sierra Show Intro

NADINE SIERRA:  Hello, I'm Nadine Sierra, and I'm so excited to be your host for today's performance of Puccini's Turandot, operatic escapism at its most lavish.  That's particularly the case with this legendary Franco Zeffirelli production, most definitely a theatrical match for Hollywood epics of yesteryear.  A fictionalized take on the splendors and rituals of ancient China, this production tests the full resources of the Met's stage machinery and its hardworking crew.  As you will see and hear, the combination of breathtaking spectacle and Puccini's sweeping score is impossible to resist. Today, we have a superb international cast, emblematic of the unity of democratic nations that are in solidarity against the war in Ukraine.  Symbolically and triumphantly, it is the virtuoso Ukrainian soprano, Liudmyla Monastyrska who will be singing the fiendishly difficult title role of the mythical princess who dares all suitors to solve three riddles, or else lose their heads.  South Korean Yonghoon Lee is the brave Prince Calaf, who is willing to risk death to win Turandot's love.  Albanian soprano Ermonela Jaho is the heroic slave girl, Liù, and legendary Italian bass Furruccio Furlanetto is Calaf's father, Timur, for one, can't wait to hear these artists deliver Puccini's soaring melodies.  Italian maestro Marco Armiliato is ready to go in the pit.  Here is Turandot.

INTERVIEW:  Sierra with Ermonela Jaho


NADINE SIERRA:  Hi.  Hi, Ermonela.  Brava.

ERMONELA JAHO:  Thank you.

NADINE SIERRA:  You sing with so much heart, you make us cry.  Do you ever have to struggle not to cry on the stage when you're singing?

ERMONELA JAHO:  Actually, it's not easy —  


ERMONELA JAHO:  — to be honest with you.  But everything needs to come from your heart.  

NADINE SIERRA:  Of course.  

ERMONELA JAHO:  Everything has to be so truthful —


ERMONELA JAHO:  — you know, what you are singing.  And, um, you know, it's very important for every artist to push ourselves at the edge.


ERMONELA JAHO:  At the edge.  Because in that way, you know, you can, um, bring together audience and emotion, you know?

NADINE SIERRA:  Oh, so beautiful.

ERMONELA JAHO:  So, and I think if we don't cry ourselves, how we can pretend the public —

NADINE SIERRA:  Exactly.  Of course.

ERMONELA JAHO:  — the public will cry?  So we have to be really, really believable and truthful —


ERMONELA JAHO:  — what we are singing, so... 

NADINE SIERRA:  Yeah, of course.  Makes a lot of sense. So, how do you float such controlled, gorgeous, pianissimi notes, while also giving us so much emotion?

ERMONELA JAHO:  Uh, well, it's hard work, as you know.  You know, it's about almost 30 years so far —


ERMONELA JAHO:  — working every day, every day, technically, because I think more secure we are, technically speaking, all the, um, all the — the — all the sides of the technique, I think we will be more free —

NADINE SIERRA:  Yes, absolutely.

ERMONELA JAHO:  — to convey, you know, the emotions to the public.


ERMONELA JAHO:  And I think we have to use the power of the truth as well —


ERMONELA JAHO:  — and to put everything — to use the technique, to use everything, you know, to bring the emotion.  Because, what does it mean?  A beautiful technique, a beautiful voice, if you don't have something to say?  So, yeah.

NADINE SIERRA:  That's very, very true.  Yeah, the depth of a character and a story.  Tell us how you see this character, Liù.  Who is she for you?

ERMONELA JAHO:  Ah, see, I am so emotional now.


ERMONELA JAHO:  Liù.  Ah, loves — the love of Liù is the heart of this piece.  I think, who doesn't want to be loved like Liù loves Calaf —


ERMONELA JAHO:  — you know?  A love without limits, unconditional. 


ERMONELA JAHO:  And, um, I think we all realize, we run all of our life, you know, after certain things.  But sometimes, when we have a moment of reflection, you know, and we — we realize that love is the only thing, you know, [truly worth it for (?)].

NADINE SIERRA:  Definitely, the most important.

ERMONELA JAHO:  And, uh, yes, and I think more we give love away, more away we love, the more we'll get back.  So, I believe in unconditional love, and I think Liù, it is the love of this opera, if I can say.  

NADINE SIERRA:  Oh, that's —

ERMONELA JAHO:  It's this kind of philosophy who shows to Calaf, to — to everyone — to Turandot.  Love is the only thing that makes life worth it to live for.

NADINE SIERRA:  Oh, that's so beautiful.  I know you also sing Puccini's Madama Butterfly, La Boheme, Suor Angelica.  What appeals to you so much about Puccini's music?

ERMONELA JAHO:  Personally, what I think, Puccini goes straightforward, you know —


ERMONELA JAHO:  — to the heart.


ERMONELA JAHO:  He's so — he using the — the — the — the truth of love —


ERMONELA JAHO:  — of life, if I can say. 


ERMONELA JAHO:  And he's so direct.  If we listen, Puccini, you know, the anger, it's pure anger in his music.


ERMONELA JAHO:  The passion, it's pure —


ERMONELA JAHO: — pure, pure —


ERMONELA JAHO:  — pure passion.


ERMONELA JAHO:  Love, poor — pure, um, love, and, um, sacrifice and everything.  That's why it's irresistible.  I love it, because every time I sing — 


ERMONELA JAHO: — Puccini, it feels like, I don't know, it feels like, in my — I feel it in my blood.

NADINE SIERRA:  Thank heaven.

ERMONELA JAHO:  It speak to everyone.  It talks to everyone, so that's why —

NADINE SIERRA:  Well, thank you.  Thank you so much, Ermonela. 

ERMONELA JAHO:  Thank you.

NADINE SIERRA:  It was such a pleasure to talk to you.

ERMONELA JAHO:  Thank you.  Thank you.

NADINE SIERRA:  And, um, thank you again.

ERMONELA JAHO:  Thank you.  Enjoy.

NADINE SIERRA:  Have a great time.

ERMONELA JAHO:  Thank you.  Enjoy it, everyone.


READ:  Sierra Intro Tape

NADINE SIERRA:  Ermonela is one of two extraordinary sopranos in today's performance.  The other is the powerful Ukrainian artist, Liudmyla Monastyrska, who we'll see as Turandot in the next act.  Liudmyla, who has close family in Ukraine suffering from the Russian invasion, is bravely committed to using her artistry in defense of her homeland.  We sat down with her a few weeks ago to talk about what it means to be a Ukrainian artist in this time of war.

LIUDMYLA MONASTYRSKA:  My name is Liudmyla Monastyrska.  When I was 15 years old, I studied to sing professionally in a musical college in Kiev.

When I was 15 years old, I started to sing professionally in a musical college in Kyiv.

I sang Turandot 12 years ago, 12 years ago in Kyiv.  But I finished to sing this role seven years ago.  2015 I finished this role, but now it's, I sing again.

But this is the Met and this is a special place and this is a special production by Zeffirelli.  It's fabulous.  It's amazing.  It's like film, like movie.  Water, dancers, and chorus, many people on the stage. Yes, of course.  I'm very excited.

When I sing my aria “In questa reggia,” this is very big jumping from low to high notes, you know.

This is very hard emotions, and of course now we have almost two months of this, uh, war, you know.  When I practice with this role every days before come here, coming here, um, was thinking about my family.  Just my daughter in Romania, thank God, but all my family in Ukraine — how is my son, how is my mom, how is my father, you know, my brother, it's terrible feeling, you know, a terrible situation.

Almost every minute, every second, I, I’m thinking.  Yes.  I'm thinking about my family.  

I did three benefit concerts.  First one was in Liepāja, this small town in, um, Latvia.  In the very end, I sang Ukrainian song.  It was very big concert.  I was very, not nervous, but, uh, a lot of energy, you know, a lot of passion inside, you know, every, every, every, every small, small, small like that.  Oh my gosh.

In my opinion, uh, that we, uh, support of our country, Ukraine, my country, this is, uh, can be on the stage.  It's my, like, mission, you know, it's my mission to sing.

INTERVIEW:  Sierra with Peter Gelb

NADINE SIERRA:  Liudmyla Monastyrska is not only representing Ukraine on stage at the Met, but is — it was also recently announced that she will be performing with the newly created Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra on a 12-concert tour, set up by the Metropolitan Opera.  And here to discuss all of that is Peter Gelb, the Met's general manager.  Hi, Peter.

PETER GELB:  Hi, Nadine.


PETER GELB:  First, first I should say that we want to thank you for defending the integrity of art and opera on our stage in your —

NADINE SIERRA:  Absolutely.

PETER GELB:  — in your brilliant performances of Lucia

NADINE SIERRA:  Thank you.

PETER GELB:  So, brava for that.

NADINE SIERRA:  Thank you so much.  I appreciate that.  So, Peter, the Met has shown such strong support for Ukraine.  Why did the Met act so quickly to come to Ukraine's defense?

PETER GELB:  Well, you know, once, uh, Putin made the decision to invade Ukraine, we felt we had to act very quickly —


PETER GELB:  — to defend Ukraine.  And we, uh, entered into a series of — of actions.  First, we performed the Ukrainian National Anthem at the very first performance that the Met put on the stage, uh, after our winter break, uh, just a few days after the invasion —


PETER GELB:  — which was very moving for our audience and for people all around the world who heard it, including in Ukraine.  And then, a few weeks later, we put on a special concert for Ukraine, which also, uh, was extraordinary.  We — we, uh, lit the exterior of the Met with the Ukrainian flag, hung the Ukrainian flag on the — and — and had a performance featuring many of our greatest artists.  That also was very moving, I think, for, for, for the people of —


PETER GELB:  — of Ukraine and for people around the world, because we want to show that, through art, we can support, uh, Ukraine's, uh, freedom.

NADINE SIERRA:  Yeah, and stand together.

PETER GELB:  And, and we — and we, uh — and now, of course, with this new, uh, Freedom Orchestra —


PETER GELB:  — we are very, um, uh, it's actually very — it's a — this was all put together in just about four or five weeks.  Uh, we — we, um — it was act — it actually was an idea of my wife's, uh, Keri-Lynn Wilson.

NADINE SIERRA:  Oh, that's beautiful.

PETER GELB:  Who you've worked with, who's —

NADINE SIERRA:  Yes, of course.

PETER GELB:  — who is the Canadian conductor, and who actually grew up in Winnipeg, which has the largest concentration of Ukrainian citizenry —

NADINE SIERRA:  That's right.

PETER GELB:  — uh, in North America.  And she — she's part Ukrainian —

NADINE SIERRA:  Oh, I didn't know that about her.

PETER GELB:  — so, so, so she was, uh, very moved, as we all were, by seeing the flow of refugees, uh, uh, out of Ukraine into — into Poland. And initially, we thought that — or she thought, uh, that it would make sense to create a orchestra of Ukrainian refugees.  Uh, as it turns out, what we ultimately decided to do, uh, together with the Polish National Opera, was to create an orchestra of the greatest Ukrainian musicians, both from inside Ukraine and outside Ukraine.  So, they're — about 60 or 70 percent of them are coming from cities in Ukraine, with — with the agreement and participation of the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture and the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, who are allowing military-age men who are performing and — instead of, uh, serving in the army right now, they will be allowed to, uh, defend Ukraine culturally. And they're joining, uh, other musicians who are already established outside of Ukraine.

NADINE SIERRA:  Oh, that is so touching.  Thank you for all of that.  So, what role can artistic institutions play in defending the freedom of Ukraine?

PETER GELB:  Well, I think the role that we're — you know, first of all, the Met, as the leading opera house of this country and one of the leading cultural forces —


PETER GELB:  — in the world feels — we feel we have to set an example, uh, for other companies and other artist — artists.  Uh, today, uh, in the — in the opera house, uh, we have the Ukrainian Ambassador to the United Nations —


PETER GELB:  Sergiy Kyslytsya.  And he is with — with him are his colleagues, uh, the ambassadors of France and Germany, uh, Poland, Japan, Lithuania, the Netherlands. They're all here, uh, showing their support for Ukraine by being with the ambassador.  And, uh, you know, we want the Ukrainian people to know, and we want the world to know, that we are solidly with them.  And, uh, that's what this tour is about, and — and what the Met's activities are all about.

NADINE SIERRA:  Oh, I love that.  Peter, as an artist, I really thank you and the Met for defending democracy.  Thank you very much.  It's very, very touching, very moving.

PETER GELB:  Thank you, Nadine.  Thank you so much.

NADINE SIERRA:  Thank you.  Wow.


READ:  Sierra Neubauer / Toll / Throw to break

NADINE SIERRA:  The Met's Live in HD series is made possible thanks to its founding sponsor, the Neubauer Family Foundation.  Digital support is provided by Bloomberg Philanthropies.  The Met Live in HD series is supported by Rolex. 

Todays' performance of Turandot is also being heard over the Toll Brothers Metropolitan Opera International Radio Network.  We'll be back after a break.


INTERVIEW:  Sierra with John Sellars

NADINE SIERRA:  We're back, and I'm with the Met's Head of Production, John Sellars, who oversees all the monumental scenery in this production and the complicated set change we've been observing.  Hi, John.

JOHN SELLARS:  Hello, Nadine.  How are you?

NADINE SIERRA:  I'm very well, thank you.


NADINE SIERRA:  So, the Met has many huge productions in its repertory, but this production by Zeffirelli looks like it's in a league all on its own.   


NADINE SIERRA:  So, is it?

JOHN SELLARS:  Yes, this is one of our biggest productions and one of our oldest productions, as a matter of fact, too.  On the — on the scale of Met Opera productions, it's probably number two or number three —


JOHN SELLARS:  — in terms of how large it is. 


JOHN SELLARS:  With respect to the quantity of scenery and number of people on stage and it's — yeah, it's a big production.

NADINE SIERRA:  That's in — that's incredible.  So, I hear it takes 45 minutes to build this next act of ancient China.  How is that accomplished, exactly?

JOHN SELLARS:  Well, the — this production in particular —  


JOHN SELLARS:  — was designed to use all of the stage machinery that's built into the theater.


JOHN SELLARS:  That's one of the things that Franco really recognized about the theater, really took advantage of —


JOHN SELLARS:  — with the theater.  And that's our wagons and our lifts, particularly.


JOHN SELLARS:  Um, so, Act I is set on the main stage.


JOHN SELLARS:  But we use our lifts to gain some of the —

NADINE SIERRA:  I think I saw that, yeah, coming up and down.

JOHN SELLARS:  — right.  The first time you see Turandot in the back, she's coming up on, uh, Lift 67.


JOHN SELLARS:  Uh, but also, the village takes advantage of one of the lifts to get that, uh, perspective —   


JOHN SELLARS:  — uh, and some height there at the back in the village.


JOHN SELLARS:  That's done with our stage lifts.  But during the act change, we just bring those down flush to the stage floor.


JOHN SELLARS:  Actually, a little above the stage floor —


JOHN SELLARS:  — so we can roll the scenery off onto the real wagon, because the real wagon is a foot higher than the main stage.  So, we settle the lifts so that they're the same height as the wagon and roll all the scenery off.


JOHN SELLARS:  Then we have to sink those lifts flush to the stage floor so we can bring the stage right wagon that has Act II mostly assembled on top of it out onto the main stage.

NADINE SIERRA:  Oh my gosh.

JOHN SELLARS:  And so, that's the — sort of a typical routine when it comes to not only a large production like this, but that's how we accomplish grand opera in repertory. 

NADINE SIERRA:  Absolutely.   

JOHN SELLARS:  We do that every day, from rehearsal to performance at night.

NADINE SIERRA:  Wow, that's so impressive.  I can't imagine it's easy to transport and store set pieces that are this large, so how does the Met make that work, exactly?

JOHN SELLARS:  Well, the — we store all of our scenery in 40-foot-long shipping containers, the kinds that you would see —   

NADINE SIERRA:  Oh my gosh.

JOHN SELLARS:  — stacked up on an ocean-going cargo ship.


JOHN SELLARS:  We have something like 1,500 shipping containers full of scenery, stacked up in a yard out near the airport near New Jersey.


JOHN SELLARS:  That's our entire repertory, 120-plus operas.


JOHN SELLARS:  Uh, Turandot takes about 25 containers.  Our largest show takes 27, so it's — it's right up there in terms of the amount of scenery.  

NADINE SIERRA:  Yeah, absolutely.

JOHN SELLARS:  When we're looking at how the scenery is going to be constructed, there are sort of two steps to that.  One is, it has to come apart into small enough pieces that fit into a container.


JOHN SELLARS:  But once it's on the stage in the house and in repertory, we want it in larger chunks, put together in larger chunks —


JOHN SELLARS:  — so we can roll it around in the house.  That helps make the changeovers faster.

NADINE SIERRA:  Oh my gosh.

JOHN SELLARS:  So that's — that's, you know.

NADINE SIERRA:  Unbelievable.

JOHN SELLARS:  — the short story about how we deal with the scenery.

NADINE SIERRA:  Yeah, it's a lot.  So, what are some of the other big shows you've been dealing with this season?


NADINE SIERRA:  Okay.  Of course, ours, yes.

JOHN SELLARS:  Yeah.  And the thing about Lucia, it's not just big in terms of the amount of scenery.


JOHN SELLARS:  It's very, very complex.


JOHN SELLARS:  As you know.


JOHN SELLARS:  With the — with the video and everything, it's just really —


JOHN SELLARS:  — it, it's asking a lot, not just of the stage crew, who's pushing the scenery around —


JOHN SELLARS:  — but of the sound people and the video people —

NADINE SIERRA:  That's right.

JOHN SELLARS:  — and everybody.  It's kind of all-in, so it's —

NADINE SIERRA:  It's a whole production.

JOHN SELLARS:  That's right.

NADINE SIERRA:  This is for sure.  So, John, this is a tremendous undertaking.  Thank you very much for explaining it all to us.

JOHN SELLARS:  Oh, you're welcome.  It's my pleasure.

NADINE SIERRA:  Thank you.  Thanks.

READ:  Sierra Intro Tape

NADINE SIERRA:  So, as we just learned, Franco Zeffirelli's production of Turandot is monumental, but also intricately designed, and it goes without saying that so is Puccini's score.  We recently spoke with our conductor, Marco Armiliato about the extraordinary work the composer did to musically evoke an ancient fairy tale China.

ROLL-IN C:  Marco Armiliato Feature

MARCO ARMILIATO:  Turandot, to me, is very special, because, uh, it's one of the operas that I learned when I was a child.  I started to fell in love with these beautiful, uh, tunes.  I mean, the opera is — is a beautiful tale, and the magic of this opera is just the agony of Puccini.

He wanted to create something spectacular, big.  Big chorus that is very difficult to sing.  He put the big orchestration — very difficult to conducting and to play.  Puccini never wrote something easy.

I think Puccini was in love with some — some Asian tune, because, uh, every opera, he find a way to put Orientalic, uh, atmosphere or, uh, uh melodies.  This is one of the — the tunes in Turandot that makes it from the children first, and then the chorus and the orchestra play that, uh, and they repeat it in a different realization.

We have a lot of, uh, character in this opera.  Of course, Liù has a special thing, and he treat Liù like a — like his lover, I think.  And he, of course, he creates a magic moment.  He make some instruments play, like celesta, like saxophone sometimes, like a xylophone.  Uh, they — all these kind of harmonies and the sound create for the atmosphere.

“Signore ascolta.” That's — it's a typical Italian melody in China.  It's so specific details that it touch you and, uh, and you really feel that you are the — the person that, uh, he — he composed it — he composed it for you.  It's like he — he composed an opera for you, for you, for you.  It's like in Puccini’s music, we’re all involved in that. Of course, we have one of the most — probably one of the most famous tunes in the — in the opera world when they play [plays piano].  Everybody knows exactly what I’m playing.  The harmony that he created [plays piano] just play this chord, it's typical from the East side.  Probably it's something from, uh, Beijing.  Obviously, it's Italian.  It's – that’s Italy.  But we are in China, and it altogether make this magic, uh, magic match. Of course, conducting Turandot here at the Met is something special because we have the Zeffirelli production.  He create visually what the composer composing musically, and the match is so perfect.

I think the Metropolitan Opera, in this way, it's number one, because the orchestra, it's probably the — the — the — the number-one orchestra for opera on this planet.  And, uh, the chorus, it's sounds fantastic.  It's like a — it's like a dream choir.  When you — when you're conducting that and you, uh, feel the way back from the chorus, it’s something special, something very special.  It’s, uh, really touching.

INTERVIEW:  Sierra with Ferruccio Furlanetto

NADINE SIERRA:  I couldn't agree more.  The Met orchestra and chorus are really the best in the world.  Now I get to speak with the man who has sung more than 225 Met performances since his debut in 1980 as the Grand Inquisitor in Don Carlos, our Timur, bass Ferruccio Furlanetto.

FERRUCCIO FURLANETTO:  Good evening to everybody.

NADINE SIERRA:  So, hello, Ferruccio.  Ciao.  So, more than 40 years into your Met career —


NADINE SIERRA:  — here you are singing your first Met Timur.  How are you enjoying that?

FERRUCCIO FURLANETTO:  Well, you know, I did very few times.  Timur I did twice in a beautiful production in Verona.




FERRUCCIO FURLANETTO:  Then a Zeffirelli production —


FERRUCCIO FURLANETTO:  — at least 20 years ago in Milano, La Scala, and now this one.  And with — which looks rather similar to the —


FERRUCCIO FURLANETTO:  — to the Milano one, which is an advantage, because the costume is very heavy.


FERRUCCIO FURLANETTO:  And, uh, it's a beautiful role.  It's, it's — I mean, it doesn't have — it doesn't have big arias, but the so beautiful, touching phrases.

NADINE SIERRA:  Absolutely.

FERRUCCIO FURLANETTO:  And it's — it's lovely.  It's really lovely to do it.

NADINE SIERRA:  Well, the Met's very lucky to have you, and I really want to know something.  So, what is the secret to your vocal longevity?  Is it just technique?

FERRUCCIO FURLANETTO:  No.  I think that basically — and it's an advice that I give to all my young colleagues —


FERRUCCIO FURLANETTO:  — is the right choice of repertoire from the very beginning.  And in my specific case, it's a good 24, 25 years of mostly Mozart in the central part, let's say, of my career.  I think that the last Figaro, it was here in 2004.


FERRUCCIO FURLANETTO:  And, uh, and I didn't stop singing Mozart for vocal reason at all. 


FERRUCCIO FURLANETTO:  On — on the contrary, it's maybe — it's even easier now.  But of course, all the characters in — in Mozart are young men. 


FERRUCCIO FURLANETTO:  And, uh, at a certain point, to jump, run, and roll was becoming a bit tiring. 


FERRUCCIO FURLANETTO:  And then I — yeah, I already understood that it was time to go back into serious stuff.


FERRUCCIO FURLANETTO:  So, back to the big Verdis, to Boris, to Don Quixote, which I adore, and well….

NADINE SIERRA:  Well, you're doing beautifully.  Si bravissimo.  Do you feel like the world of opera has changed a lot over the decades?

FERRUCCIO FURLANETTO:  Oh, well, yes.  I mean, when I — I was extremely lucky, because when I started, I had a chance to be on time for the great old conductors before, Karajan. Solti, Bernstein, Giulini, and the young rampants like Jimmy, Abbado..

NADINE SIERRA:  Yes.  Right.

FERRUCCIO FURLANETTO:  — Muti, and many others.  And it was a blessing, of course.  And, of course, we had great, great stage directors —


FERRUCCIO FURLANETTO:  — belonging to the planet, opera.


FERRUCCIO FURLANETTO:  Like Jean-Pierre Ponnelle, Mr. Zeffirelli, Piero Faggioni, Giorgio Strehler, and afterwards, um, also Patrice Chéreau with him, uh, three years of Don Giovanni in Salzburg, and it was amazing, beautiful.  And amazingly, not traditional, because we don't need tradition, let's say, clearly.  We just need respect —




FERRUCCIO FURLANETTO:  — text, and characters.


FERRUCCIO FURLANETTO:  If you find somebody with this specific characteristic, it's a blessing.

NADINE SIERRA:  Yes.  They can make something truly wonderful.

FERRUCCIO FURLANETTO:  And, uh, I would love to find more and more of these guys —


FERRUCCIO FURLANETTO:  — in the — in the stage direction field.

NADINE SIERRA:  Well, thank you, Ferruccio. 


NADINE SIERRA:  Thank you so much.


NADINE SIERRA:  It's such a pleasure to speak with you.

FERRUCCIO FURLANETTO:  Thank you very much, my dear.

NADINE SIERRA:  Un honore.  Ciao.


READ:  Throw to Act II

NADINE SIERRA:  At the end of the previous act, Calaf has decided to risk his head in an attempt to answer Turandot's riddles.  When the next act begins, Ping, Pang, and Pong lament Turandot's bloody reign, as the crowd gathers to witness her latest victim's demise.  Here is Act II.

INTERVIEW:  Sierra with Sylvia Nolan

NADINE SIERRA:  Wow, what a spectacle that was.  I'm joined now by the Met's resident costume designer, Sylvia Nolan.  Hi, Sylvia.


NADINE SIERRA: Hi.  So, the character of Turandot, she really has some incredible costumes throughout the opera, and we're looking at two of them here.  Can you tell me about these stunning pieces?

SYLVIA NOLAN:  Yes.  Well, these are her Act I, uh, costumes.  And these are her court robes —


SYLVIA NOLAN:  — which are multilayered.  And when I look at these robes, actually, I see the many different skills that went into producing them, from the cutting of the silk damask to the applique, hand stitching.  And then, when we get to these collars —


SYLVIA NOLAN:  — there are actually incredible craftspeople, as well, who work on these, which involves even sewing with the finest beading needle to working with nippers that are practically like the jaws of life.

NADINE SIERRA:  Oh my gosh.  And that's all hand-stitched, right?

SYLVIA NOLAN:  This is all hand-stitched.

NADINE SIERRA:  Wow, beautiful.

SYLVIA NOLAN:  The other thing that's import — interesting, actually, and important about this is, Turandot goes through some very strong changes —


SYLVIA NOLAN:  — as often happens in opera characters —


SYLVIA NOLAN:  — in the short time of one afternoon.  And we already see, when she changes into this for the reveal, the beginning of a new Turandot, a new perspective on life, where she has — changes into a softer gown.  This —

NADINE SIERRA:  So beautiful.

SYLVIA NOLAN:  It is.  And this particular gown actually shows another aspect of our costume making.  It's not just cutting and sewing.


SYLVIA NOLAN:  We also have a scenic department, who are experts in textile work.

NADINE SIERRA:  Oh, lovely.

SYLVIA NOLAN:  So this — all of this ombre painting was actually done by the scenic department.

NADINE SIERRA:  Wow.  So then, okay, this black costume here is also just a total work of art.  Who wears this one, and what makes it a special piece in the opera?

SYLVIA NOLAN:  So, this is representative of the court robes.  This is worn by the Mandarin.


SYLVIA NOLAN:  And this badge here tells us that he has a place in the court, that he has a say.  It is a theatricalized version of court costuming, which we, the designers and we study from looking at actual portraits of people who belonged to the court at the time, pre-photographs.


SYLVIA NOLAN:  Uh, so this badge tells us about his rank, and different people would have different badges.  A general would have had a leopard here.

NADINE SIERRA:  Oh, I see, how interesting. 

SYLVIA NOLAN:  And they — yes, and he has a landscape here, as does Turandot, actually.  We have a landscape here.

NADINE SIERRA:  Yeah, I see the mountains there.

SYLVIA NOLAN:  Yes, we have the mountains.

NADINE SIERRA:  Beautiful.

SYLVIA NOLAN:  And she is actually up in the clouds with her dragon.


SYLVIA NOLAN:  He's down here on the land, mountains and the sea.

NADINE SIERRA:  That is so gorgeous.  I love this.  This is wonderful. So, Sylvia, this is truly amazing.  Thank you so much for joining me.  What a pleasure.  Thank you.

SYLVIA NOLAN:  It's my pleasure.  Thank you.

READ:  PSA/Fundraising/Throw to Break

SYLVIA NOLAN:  So, as we've seen, this production of Turandot delivers both supreme spectacle and deluxe vocalism, and I hope all of you watching in the movie theaters are enjoying it thoroughly.  But I must tell you, as dazzling as Franco Zeffirelli's sets and costumes are, and as powerful as our singers are on screen, you have to be here in the opera house to get the full effect.  Nothing compares to the power of grand opera live and in person, so please come to the Met or visit your local opera company.

Today's Turandot is one of 10 exceptional productions the Met is sharing with cinema audiences this season, and there are 10 more coming up next season, too.  I'm sure I don't need to tell you that assembling the great singers in the world, casting them in unforbed — unforgettable productions, and presenting those performances around the world, well, it's ex — it's very expensive.

The Met relies on the incredible generosity of our audience to keep the work at the absolute highest level.  If you're able to make a donation to the Met, please call us at 1-800-MET-OPERA, or visit us at metopera.org/membership to make a contribution.  We thank you for your support of the Met, and we'll be back after a break.

READ:  Sierra Neubauer / 2022-23 Season / Throw to Tape

NADINE SIERRA:  The Met's Live in HD series is made possible, thanks to its founding sponsor, the Neubauer Family Foundation.  Digital support is provided by Bloomberg Philanthropies.  The Met Live in HD series is supported by Rolex.

The Met recently announced plans for next season's Live in HD series, and the lineup is, well, fabulous.  We open the fall cinema season with the Met premier of Cherubini's Medea, with the always amazing Sondra Radvanovsky in the title role, initially made famous by Maria Callas. Medea is the first of three Met premiers on the next season's Live in HD lineup.  We also have Kevin Puts's new opera, The Hours, based on the acclaimed novel and film, with the unbeatable trio of Joyce DiDonato, Renee Fleming, and Kelli O'Hara in the principal roles.  Met Music Director Yannick Nezet-Seguin will be on the podium.

Yannick will also conduct the premier of Terrence Blanchard's Champion, with the blazing bass baritone, Ryan Speedo Green as the tormented boxer, Emile Griffith. Four other new productions are on the Live in HD schedule next year.  Giordano's Fedora makes a rare return in a staging by David McVicar, with luminous soprano Sonya Yoncheva in the title role.  Start tenor Piotr Beczala sings the title role of Wagner's Lohengrin in Francios Girard's new production, the first new Lohengrin since 1998.

And two Mozart operas have back-to-back new production premiers.  Director Ivo van Hove's new vision for Don Giovanni with the charismatic baritone, Peter Mattei in the title role; and Simon McBurney's fantastical Die Zaberflote, with beloved soprano Erin Morley as Pamina and leading tenor Lawrence Brownlee as Tamino. This cinema season also features revivals of Verdi's Falstaff, with the great Michael Volle in the title role, and Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier, with the incomparable Lise Davidsen as the Marschallin.  And I am incredibly excited to be singing one of my favorite roles, Violetta, in La Traviata, which I cannot wait to perform on the big screen. 

But before all of that, I'll be singing the title role of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor on screen in cinemas just two weeks from today.  Our director, Simon Stone, has placed the action brilliantly, I might add, in the American Rust Belt of today.  And I have been having such a blast opposite my co-stars, Javier Camarena and Artur Rucinski as my lover and my brother, respectively.  Here's a trailer for our new Lucia.

INTERVIEW:  Sierra with Javier Camarena & Artur Rucinski

NADINE SIERRA:  I am so thrilled to be joined now by Artur Rucinski and Javier Camarena, my boys.

ARTUR RUCINSKI:  Hi, Nadine.  Thank you for having us here.

NADINE SIERRA:  Hi.  Of course.  So, between the two of you, you certainly make my life as Lucia an absolute mess, thank you very much.  Anybody who has followed our new Lucia is aware of the dynamic update created by the director, Simon Stone.  Although the basic story hasn't changed, tell us about your updated characters, Javier or Artur.


NADINE SIERRA:  How has it changed.

JAVIER CAMARENA:  I think he — he's very human.


JAVIER CAMARENA:  That's — that's the — the main thing about, uh, this production and the way we can, um, express or interpolate our roles.  Um, it's very, very human.  It's like really a — a normal guy —


JAVIER CAMARENA:  — who works in a mart, and uh, he's completely and absolutely in love with Lucia.


JAVIER CAMARENA:  And — and you can see that in — even in those temperamental moments he has, uh, around the opera.

NADINE SIERRA:  Absolutely.

JAVIER CAMARENA:  But he's completely and absolutely in love with Lucia, so that — that's something —


JAVIER CAMARENA:  — yeah, I can mention about that.


ARTUR RUCINSKI:  So, I have incredible opportunity to sing the character which I completely imagined that I'd be able to play character as this.  So, I am bleeding gunk.  I am fully covered of tattoos —


ARTUR RUCINSKI:  Which are very cool.  When my wife saw me first time, she said, that's very interesting and I should be — I should consider to have the real one.  And also, I'm selling the drugs, I'm addicted to drugs, so I have, uh, many issues.  Uh, you know, I — because I can barely control my — myself, my behaviors.


ARTUR RUCINSKI:  And you can see, uh, in this production how, uh, how bad he is.


ARTUR RUCINSKI:  How, uh, how he's —

NADINE SIERRA:  It makes him more brutal, a bit.

ARTUR RUCINSKI:  He's brutal, he's using violence, uh, against you, especially, my sister, which I'm very sorry, but they pay me for that, so I have to do it. And then, and then, and also, what is very interesting this production that, um, uh, we have kind — because of Simon Stone —


ARTUR RUCINSKI:  — who directed this, uh, this, this, this, this, um, this piece, uh, we have two awards, cinema award and that dramatic theater award.

NADINE SIERRA:  Yes, that's right.

ARTUR RUCINSKI:  And because of that, it's great opportunity to give — uh, that we can express more emotion.  We can act more, and the audience is able to see more in our faces —


ARTUR RUCINSKI:  — because we have these huge screens during the shows.

NADINE SIERRA:  Yes, it's more close up.  Absolutely.  

ARTUR RUCINSKI:  Yeah.  And also, our problem between us, we — it's much easier to act and express, not only through the music, but also, uh, with the action, the acting.

NADINE SIERRA:  Yeah.  That's wonderful.  I totally agree.  So, let's take a moment and let our audience have a look at your Act III confrontation from the final dress rehearsal a few weeks ago.


NADINE SIERRA:  Gentlemen, I love and adore you both.  You know that.  So, thank you for coming and speaking with me.

ARTUR RUCINSKI:  It was a pleasure.  Thank you so much.

JAVIER CAMARENA:  It was a pleasure.  Thank you.

NADINE SIERRA:  Thank you, for me, too.

ARTUR RUCINSKI:  See you next day.

NADINE SIERRA:  Yeah, see you.

ARTUR RUCINSKI:  Thank you.  Bye.


INTERVIEW:  Sierra with Yonghoon Lee

NADINE SIERRA:  Now, let's go back to the world of Turandot.  In just a few minutes, the final act will begin.  But first, I get to speak with our hero of the hour, tenor Yonghoon Lee.  Hello, Yonghoon.

YONGHOON LEE:  Hello.  Thanks for having me.

NADINE SIERRA:  Oh, my pleasure.  So, I know this opera has been with you for quite a long time.  When did you first experience it, and what effect did it have on you?  When was your debut?

YONGHOON LEE:  Uh, it's 2008 in Italy, in Bologna.

NADINE SIERRA:  Beautiful.


NADINE SIERRA:  And that must have been very, uh, interesting —

YONGHOON LEE:  Yeah, yeah.

NADINE SIERRA:  — to see it in Italy, actually.

YONGHOON LEE:  Yeah, in Italy.  Yeah, exactly.

NADINE SIERRA:  Yeah, of course.  So, why is Calaf so committed to winning Turandot's heart?

YONGHOON LEE:  Uh, so far, no one has won her love.

NADINE SIERRA:  Has an answer, yeah.

YONGHOON LEE:  And, uh, I want to be the one —

NADINE SIERRA:  Yeah, the winner.

YONGHOON LEE:  — who gets the — yeah, exactly.  Yeah, her true love, actually.  Yeah.

NADINE SIERRA:  Yeah, the champion of true love.  I like that.

YONGHOON LEE:  Yes, and become a legend.

NADINE SIERRA:  Yeah, of course.  Absolutely.

YONGHOON LEE:  Yeah.  Yeah.

NADINE SIERRA:  As all tenors want to do.


NADINE SIERRA:  So, you're about to step on stage to sing one of the most famous arias in all of opera, which has been performed by some of the most famous tenors throughout history, "Nessun dorma."  So, do you feel any pressure, or is it something you enjoy very much?

YONGHOON LEE:  Of course.


YONGHOON LEE:  I have a pressure.


YONGHOON LEE:  I mean, people heard this famous aria maybe —

NADINE SIERRA:  Many times.

YONGHOON LEE:  — many, many times, sung by many tenors.


YONGHOON LEE:  But today, they will have a Yong Lee's "Nessun dorma."

NADINE SIERRA:  Yeah, Yonghoon Lee.

YONGHOON LEE:  It's very exciting.  At the — at the same time —


YONGHOON LEE:  — get pressure.  Yeah.


YONGHOON LEE:  Yeah, yeah.

NADINE SIERRA:  It will be beautiful.

YONGHOON LEE:  Thank you.

NADINE SIERRA:  As you always sing.

YONGHOON LEE:  Thank you.

NADINE SIERRA:  So, why do you think people lover this aria so much?  What do you think is so amazing about the aria?

YONGHOON LEE:  Well, Puccini wrote this one, it's a beautiful line, melody. 


YONGHOON LEE:  With a dramatic finish, you know?


YONGHOON LEE:  The last, the really, really dramatic.  And also, the lyrics, full of love and confidence and passion.  You know, the people love that.

NADINE SIERRA:  Yeah.  It's what opera is about, I think.

YONGHOON LEE:  Exactly, yeah.

NADINE SIERRA:  It's beautiful.


NADINE SIERRA:  So, Yonghoon Lee, toi, toi, toi for "Nessun dorma."

YONGHOON LEE:  I just want to say one thing.

NADINE SIERRA:  Yeah.  Yes, please.

YONGHOON LEE:  Yeah.  Just, I want to say to everybody in the world —


YONGHOON LEE:  — in this challenging period, I just want to bless them.  God bless you, and Jesus loves you.  Yeah.  And then, you know, we will all win.

NADINE SIERRA:  We will.  Vincero!

YONGHOON LEE:  Yeah, Vincero!, yeah.  All right.

NADINE SIERRA:  Thank you, Yonghoon. 

YONGHOON LEE:  Thank you.  Thank you very much.

NADINE SIERRA:  Thank you so much.



READ:  Throw to Act III

NADINE SIERRA:  As Puccini aficionados know, the great composer died before completing this score.  But he had already mapped out how the opera would end.  Will it be love or hubris that ultimately triumphs?  Well, the answer to that final riddle is revealed in the concluding act of Turandot.