Puccini’s glorious final opera ‘Turandot’ – a production set against views across Sydney’s harbour and Opera House – brings both the finest music and stunning visual spectacle to Wellington’s Wellesley Cinema on Thursday 15 September when the autumn’s LIVE season of transmissions resumes.
The opera’s story is set in China and involves Prince Calaf, who falls in love with the cold Princess Turandot. To obtain permission to marry her, a suitor has to solve three riddles; any wrong answer results in death. Calaf passes the test, but Turandot still refuses to marry him. He offers her a way out: if she is able to learn his name before dawn the next day, then at daybreak he will die.
Summing up Director Chen Shi-Zheng’s ‘Turandot’, critic Clive Paget described Handa Opera’s production as “a show that should please opera buffs and thrill seekers alike”, combining Western and Eastern dramatic traditions, making reference to Hollywood, theatrical acrobatics and traditional Chinese opera to create a work that thrills visually and has emotional impact.
Visual elements include martial arts-inspired choreography of the ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ kind, glittering costumes and a flying mandarin. The images from Sydney convey an astonishingly colourful production.
The composer’s score makes use of exotic percussion from a galaxy of instruments including timpani, cymbals, gong, triangle, snare drum, bass drum, tam-tam, glockenspiel, xylophone, bass xylophone, tubular bells, tuned Chinese gongs and wood block to accompany Puccini’s ‘dazzling tunes’ which include the classic ‘Nessun dorma’.
Italian tenor Riccardo Massi delivers the role of Prince Calaf with “enormous vocal passion”, Hyeseoung Kwon as Liù is said to “win the hearts of the audience with an elegant dramatic interpretation and refined singing of great delicacy” and, as Ping, Pang and Pong, the trio of Luke Gabbedy, Benjamin Rasheed and John Longmuir are “outstanding, singing with style and mastering their busy choreography with aplomb”.
One critic said “Chinese director Chen Shi-Zheng’s take on this Chinese fable will be one for the history books” so Wellington’s audience – joining others in venues around the world – can be assured of a thrilling musical adventure delivered direct from an iconic location.
‘Turandot’ is at the Wellesley Cinema on Thursday 15 September at 7.30pm. More information about LIVE events this autumn and advance booking can be found on www.wellesleycinema.co.uk.