I was at the Met HD in the cinema last Saturday.
Turandot is one of my early favourites - exotic setting, dramatic story, catchy tunes, ice princess, valiant prince, devoted beautiful slave ready to die for her master, comic relief provided by three fun characters (Ping, Pang, Pong). Did I mention great music?
And of course Nessun Dorma!
The production of Turandot at the Met (by Franco Zeffirelli) is not new. It dates back to 1987, I think. And it shows. But it's so lavish and over the top that you can't help loving it. Right from the start, the stage is full of people, and it rarely stops - chorus, dancers, principals, even people behind masks who just stand there, adding decorum to the palace scenes, maybe? It's hard to keep up. Thankfully, the story is simple.
I loved Marco Berti (at least I think it was him) as Calaf (valiant prince). He brought an energy and youth to the role that appealed to me, although he's probably not that young
Nina Stemme was a powerful Turandot. What a voice. But I think it's such a shame that Puccini has his female leads singing such difficult roles, roles they cannot sing when they are young, for fear of damaging their voice, I guess. But then, it's hard to suspend disbelief when they are supposed to be a "young princess". Same goes for Madama Butterfly - a beautiful young woman who falls in love ends up being sung by a soprano with a wonderful voice, but whose looks don't really convince. Nothing we can do about. That's the way Puccini wrote those roles. What was he thinking, I wonder?
But then, when I look at Nina Stemme's picture, she doesn't look that old. She is probably younger than me, actually, since her debut was in 1989. Maybe it's the weight of this huge tiara/crown that she has to wear for the whole duration? Anyways, I'm looking forward to seeing her in Elektre at the end of the Met HD season!