Franco Zeffirelli's Turandot is large, solid and very blingy. Your granny would love it. It makes the Copley La bohème look rather flimsy. If all opera were like this, it would grown tiresome, but the occasional sparkle, especially on a dark, cold January night is a rather good bracer, relayed to cinemas last Saturday night as it was.
|A modest spectacle. Image: Met Opera|
This is not standard Puccini. The heart strings are not plucked in the conventional way. But there is one really big number in it: 'Nessun Dorma'. For a tenor anything less than Pavarotti-league, it is a dangerous path to tread. Here is was slightly rushed and the nerves perhaps were just too much for Marco Berti.
It is not standard either to have a singer of Nina Stemme's quality; but then there aren't very many to be had. A Wagnerial soprano of the highest order, the Brunnhilde and Isolde of our times, she was commanding and domineering as ice princess, but not afraid to melt around the edges.
Anita Hartig as Liù deserves rich praise, and for her an especially loud ovation was given, which might have been audible in the UK, without the benefit of the relay. Some in the cinema even joined in.
Yet the stars of the show were surely the stage crew building three views on a palace and dismantling them; rarely have the behind-the-scenes bits been more impressive. Hosted by Renée Fleming, this was an all-star spectacle.
Overall: a shining light at the end of January.
Read the programme here.
Conductor: Paolo Carignani
Production: Franco Zeffirelli
Costume designers: Anna Anni and Dada Saligeri
Lighting designer: Gil Wechsler
Choreographer: Chiang Ching
Stage director: David Kneuss
Turandot: Nina Stemme
Liù: Anita Hartig
Calàf: Marco Berti
Timur: Alexander Tsymbalyuk
Emperor Altoum: Ronald Naldi
Ping: Dwayne Croft*
Pong: Eduardo Valdes
Mandarin: David Crawford
Executioner: Arthur Lazalde
Prince of Persia: Sasha Semin
Handmaidens: Anne Nonnemacher
Oriada Islami Prifti