Puccini’s last opera is all about riddles. In the Forbidden City of Peking rules the Emperor of China. His unmarried daughter, the Princess Turandot, has been refusing her hand to all her princely suitors by putting them to a test. She gives them three riddles: if they do not answer them correctly, they have their heads chopped off. Scores of unlucky suitors have already failed and lost their heads in the attempt. It is now the turn of Calaf, a prince of the Tatar people, who is fascinated by Turandot’s glory. To everyone’s astonishment, he answers Turandot’s three questions correctly: first, hope; then, blood and, finally, Turandot herself. The princess is his for the taking, as promised by the Emperor. Turandot, however, is reluctant to keep the promise.
Puccini broke off his composition of Turandot in the third act. The maestro died in 1924 before finishing the final duet and it was his assistant Alfano who completed the score. The first performance of the work and its world premiere at Milan’s La Scala in 1926 was a kind of requiem for Puccini. Arturo Toscanini conducted the work up to the last notes left by Puccini and then put down his baton with the words: “Here ends the master’s work. After that, he died”.
Alfano’s finale became the norm in opera houses throughout the world, without ever really being completely accepted. For this reason, the musical editor Ricordi commissioned a new, less bombastic, finale from the greatest living Italian composer of that time. Luciano Berio’s finale, created in 2002, will be performed in Geneva for the first time ever in Switzerland.
Daniel Kramer’s new staging transposes the old fairy tale to a futuristic world where Turandot’s magic and power hold sway. In a dystopian game show, reminiscent of Hunger Games, the regime of the woman who refuses to become one institutes a surveillance state in which men are culled and the reproduction and breeding of the human species is conducted in a mechanical facility. The US-born director harks back to the archaic essentials of the battle between the sexes.
For the first time in their career, the famous international art collective teamLab will be working extensively on the scenography of an opera, using state-of-the-art visual technologies never before been seen on an opera stage. teamLab’s light creations have been on show all over the world; they create an immersive artistic experience that absorbs and enthrals the audience in its avant-gardist visual flux.
After his impressive Grand Théâtre début with Aida
during the 2019-2020 and in La Cenerentola
last season, which replaced this production of Turandot
, impossible to perform under COVID-19 measures, Antonino Fogliani a true master of the Italian repertoire, is back with his baton. After performing Elektra, the dramatic voice par excellence of Ingela Brimberg returns as icy Princess Turandot. The young soprano Olga Busuoc will be the innocent voice of the luminous Liú.
- Grand Théâtre de Genève