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Subject: Re: Turandot
From: Peter Hammond <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:[log in to unmask]
Date:Wed, 8 Nov 2017 13:26:34 -0500
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Well, since you said you'd like to hear from others on this, I agree that the opera is a great spectacle with some rousing music. "Nessun Dorma" has certainly pulled its weight in popularizing "operatic" singing. My problem with it all is that I can't care about the two lead characters. Turandot makes her bloody bargain and then tries to renege on it when she loses, after having held so many others to its enforcement. Calaf is cavalier about Liu from the beginning. "Who are you?" he asks. Oh, nobody, just a slave who loves you and has saved your father. "Well, keep it up" he basically advises her. Even Pinkerton had more charm than this man. He and Turandot are a good match, I suppose, but I can't rejoice in their happiness. For this opera to work I think that is required, in contrast to, say, "Bluebeard's Castle" as Rich mentioned; that opera feels complete because we have not been asked to celebrate the ending.




Peter


-----Original Message-----
From: Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]>
To: OPERA-L <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wed, Nov 8, 2017 9:41 am
Subject: Re: Turandot

Rich:
   You have definitely raised a point about "Turandot" that I've never really considered.  Yes, it's a bloody and gory story (though it remains a fantasy which "Dialogues" is NOT).  You have three characters (Ping, Pang, Pong) to provide some comic relief --- and Turandot does have tremendous spectacle as well as orchestral and choral "spectaculars".  I've never felt completely comfortable with the happy ending (especially in view of Liu's particularly emotional demise), but I cannot bring myself to think of the opera as "horrifying".  "Turandot" has served as the "first opera" for many "newbees" because of the color and spectacle -as well as the orchestral and choral music.  
   Not sure if you should want to "hate yourself" for admiring the music.  Not sure about how to really respond to your observation.  I've never thought the point you're raising here, though I've seen over the years similar feelings, perhaps not quite as emphatic as yours, however.
   Would like to see others weigh-in" on this.  You might have sparked an interesting thread.
> On November 8, 2017 at 9:03 AM Rich Lowenthal <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
> 
> I have to say that I consider Turandot by far the most horrifying opera 
> in the canon--far more than Sweeney Todd (cannibalism and all). Turandot 
> is a monster--which she wasn't in the earlier versions of the 
> story--something that the work fails to realize. I do not care whether 
> villains are punished in stories, but I do ask that their villainy be 
> recognized, and not erased by pretty sets and crashing chords. Somehow, 
> the ending of Turandot asks us to pretend that everything that happened 
> before, including the torture and death of Liu (surely one of the most 
> despicable scenes in opera) be somehow redeemed by the magic of "love." 
> There is a misogyny and sadism present in much of Puccini's work that 
> comes to full fruition in Turandot, but this central aspect of the opera 
> is rarely noted. (I often wonder how Puccini would have set "Bluebeard's 
> Castle.")
> 
> Is there another opera or musical that so little merits its "happy 
> ending"? I think the only way the work should reasonably be performed 
> today is as some sort of Brechtian satire--which would be in keeping 
> with its commedia del'arte origins.
> 
> I do like much of the music, but hate myself for it.
> 
> ------ Original Message ------
> From: "G. Paul Padillo" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Sent: 11/7/2017 10:48:55 AM
> Subject: Re: Turandot
> 
> >Idia wrote (in part):
> >
> >“It's a masterpiece and I've often mused upon how the ending would have 
> >been had Puccini
> >lived to finish it.”
> >
> >Of course we can never fully or really know, but I’ll put in my annual 
> >damnation of Toscanini
> >for demanding Alfano shorten his original ending, which to this day is 
> >still almost never
> >heard.  The complete Alfano ending really opens up the opera, makes 
> >more than just “hash”
> >of the ending, and fleshes out the characters of Turandot and Calaf to 
> >be slightly more than
> >the cardboard cartoon fairy tale characters.  Turandot’s “melting” 
> >makes far more sense
> >when she’s given actual time to reflect and melt – and sing some lovely 
> >music to, boot.
> >
> >Then there’s the case of the “end” of the finale – which, once heard 
> >leaves the ending we
> >know feeling just a bit in the dust.  It is the definition of a “sonic 
> >spectacular” – even the
> >orchestration is different, the crazy triple triplets (or whatever they 
> >are) of the trumpets
> >adding even more luster and brilliance to what we typically hear.  
> >Additionally, Alfano,
> >according to Puccini’s wishes, has Turandot and Calaf singing, their 
> >voices rising - sailing
> >above the massed forces instead of the usual them just standing around 
> >looking on in
> >silence.
> >
> >For those who still aren’t familiar with it . . . get a load of this!
> >
> >https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q09_thEg6AA
> >
> >p.
> >  --------------------------------------------------
> 
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