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Subject: Calaf the Hero (Was Re: Turandot)
From: "G. Paul Padillo" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:G. Paul Padillo
Date:Fri, 10 Nov 2017 12:36:31 -0500

text/plain (49 lines)

Tom Frey wrote:

"[Calaf] is a true rectum who stands by while his servant girl is tortured till she commits 
suicide to protect his sorry butt."

* * * * *

I love Calaf.  No, he is not the most interesting operatic character, but fairy tale heroes, 
very rarely are,

Is Calaf any more of a cad or villain than, say Siegfried?  The chief purpose of each of these 
guys is to serve as heroic romantic figure to a damsel who is so much damaged goods; the 
first a wounded goddess stripped of her rank and immortality; the second a man-eating ice 
princess.  Each "awakens" his woman with a rousing good duet, which in Turandot means 
peace is finally restored to a town most notable for its nightly executions and display of 
heads on spikes.  Even with the Prince of Persia's freshly decapitated noggin staring at him, 
Calaf enters and wins the challenge.  No, he may not be the brightest of boys, but his 
display of cojones is formidable  

It’s frequently asserted that Calaf treats Liu shabbily, but this just is not so.  He’s never met 
her before today and “today” he learns she was a slave in his father’s court.  Nonetheless, 
he’s touched by her, treats her tenderly, thanks her and asks her to continue watching over 
“he who smiles no more.”  “Non piangere Liu” and the sequence following up until the gong 
is one of the most sweeping, exciting scenes in opera.  

During Liu’s torture Calaf is restrained, the libretto states not only his hands, but his feet 
are bound (this is China, after all!) and yet people keep saying he should’ve done 
something.  I’m fairly certain even yelling out his own name in the heat of the moment, he 
would’ve sealed both their fates, kept the reign of blood going meaning Turandot would 
have never had her "primi pianti" to break, the fairy tale's curse.  

Again, I assert the complete Alfano ending is the only way to go, fleshing out the story 
giving the finale the breadth and breath it needs to make it to the finish line.


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