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Subject: Re: Turandot pronunciation summation - case closed
From: Geoffrey Riggs <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Geoffrey Riggs <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 5 Dec 2018 21:22:56 -0500

text/plain (242 lines)

On Wed, 5 Dec 2018 13:29:41 -0500, Paul Ricchi <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>Raisa is not the best nor last word on this.


[Geoffrey]  I really don't get this denialism at all.  What is our problem?

To begin with, pray tell us WHY Mme. Raisa can be so easily dismissed.  We'd
really loooooove to know.    PLEEEAAASE??!!  Blanket declarations don't cut
the mustard here, thank you very much.  Raisa only created the title role
with Puccini's right-hand man, Toscanini, at the podium!  So why is OUR word
suddenly better than hers, pray tell?  Is it simply because we're alive and
she's not, so she doesn't count?  Hey, I guess that must be it: Hers doesn't
count simply because the denialists here are still alive but these


are all six feet under, so we can just pretend their RECORDED TESTIMONY is
fake news.  Right?  RIGHT??

For that matter, while we're la-di-da dismissing Raisa because WE apparently
know better ("because we're the ones who are still alive" is the only
[dubious] reason I can come up with for THAT little gem), let's also dismiss
not only Raisa but the CREATORS of Ping, Pang and Pong as well.  Hey, why
not?  And while we're about it, let's also dismiss Eva Turner, who only
ATTENDED the La Scala premiere.  Hey, let's go whole hog and decide that
Toscanini, who only waved a stick, was FULL OF IT TOO.  That's right:
Scholarship 2018-style: WE decide what the history is, based purely on what

Oh, while we're at it, let's do some BOOK-BURNING as well.  After all, books
are just musty old things that interfere with what WE KNOW happened because
our version MAKES US FEEL GOOD AND IMPORTANT.  So let's do some book-burning
and record-burning (those annoying records by the Ping, Pong and Pang --
why, how DARE they?).

Look, seriously: I've seen all the knee-jerk arguments claiming it's
"impossible" for the T to have been dropped, and I've seen those arguments
in detail again and again and again, thank you very, very much.  But all the
knee-jerk denialists I've encountered on this question have never once
addressed, never once -- explicitly, specifically, precisely, directly,
honestly -- just why we can so readily dismiss the Turandot, AND the Ping,
AND the Pang, AND the Pong, AND the conductor of the world premiere, as if
their combined testimony counts for nothing.  This is getting Orwellian. 
The notion that our feelings count for more than this combined testimony
from artists at the world premiere makes me sick to my stomach.  What kind
of reasons can we give why all this combined testimony should be summarily

Tell me.  --

No, I'm not asking for another treatise on singing a T, and I'm not asking
for a history of Gozzi, and I'm not asking for which is more "effective" (in
YOUR opinion), and I'm not asking for any of the rest of the blah blah blah.
 I am asking specifically just why we can so comfortably dismiss direct
testimony from the world premiere.  SPELL _T-H-A-T_ OUT, thank you.

Geoffrey Riggs


>I will concede that the final consonant in TurandoT tends to disappear when
>it is from the mouth of certain singers. )It is a native language thing.)
>On Mon, Sep 17, 2012 at 12:26 PM Jason Victor Serinus <
>[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> Since I started this thread, it seems appropriate that I al
>> Greetings,
>> Since I started this thread, it seems appropriate that I also end it. Or,
>> at least, attempt to end it.
>> Below I paste in what I feel to be conclusive evidence that Puccini wanted
>> the name pronounced "Turan-doh" or some variation thereof - whatever sounds
>> authentically Italian that does not have a hard "T" at the end.
>> 1. One of several interviews Rosa Raisa, the first Turandot, gave on the
>> subject:
>> 2. 1997 Opera Quarterly article summation by music critic and Sills
>> website maintainer Roy Dicks:
>> From:    Roy Dicks <[log in to unmask]>
>> Subject: Turandot pronunciation
>> The last time the question about the pronunciation of "Turandot" came up =
>> on Opera-L
>> in 2004, several of us posted information taken from the exhaustive =
>> article about it in a=20
>> 1997 Opera Quarterly. I'm re-posting my summary of that article that I =
>> posted in 2004:
>> I am posting the
>> pertinent points and facts from the Opera Quarterly article by
>> Patrick Vincent Casali, "The Pronunciation of Turandot: Puccini's
>> Last Enigma" (Vol. 13, No. 4, Summer 1997, p.77-91). I am writing
>> this with the article in hand and will do my best to summarize its
>> impressive research on the problem.
>> Casali's overall conclusion is that the last "t" was originally meant
>> to be silent but that recordings and performance practice from the
>> mid-1950's led to a general tendency to sound the final "t." Here's
>> how he came to that conclusion:
>> I. Recordings -
>> The first recorded excerpts were two different sections of the Ping,
>> Pang, Pong trio made soon after the premiere with the original
>> creators of the roles. The singers, who were tutored by Toscanini in
>> the roles, do NOT sing the final "t." Two recently issued  Riddle
>> Scenes from live 1937 Covent Garden performances with Eva Turner (one
>> of the first Turandots) and Giovanni Martinelli clearly do not use
>> the final "t."  The first complete recording of the opera was in 1938
>> by Parlophone with Cigna, Merli, Olivero, conducted by Franco Ghione.
>> Again no one sings a final "t." There were no more complete
>> recordings until the early 1950's when three sets came out: 1)
>> Grob-Prandl with La Fenice forces led by Capuana (Remington); 2)
>> Borkh, Del Monaco, Tebaldi, conducted by Erede (Decca); 3) Callas,
>> Fernandi, Schwarzkopf, conducted by Serafin (EMI). NONE of these
>> employ the final "t." Casali deems it quite significant that these
>> four complete sets are all led by Italian conductors with many
>> Italian singers who presumably were influenced by the tradition set
>> by the original production.
>> The first recording to sound the final "t" was the 1959 RCA
>> Nilsson/Bjoerling/Tebaldi set. Casali speculates that Leinsdorf may
>> have made the case for a sounded "t," possibly based on contemporary
>> German, Swiss and Austrain practice.  Virtually all the  succeeding
>> complete recordings sounded the "t" (although Casali cites live
>> performances during the 1960's and one from 1972 which did not. The
>> Metropolitan Opera broadcasts of its new production in 1961 and 1962
>> both employed the final "t," firmly establishing the practice.
>> II. Verbal Evidence =46rom Originators
>> The first Turandot, Rosa Raisa unfortunately did not record anything
>> from the opera. Raisa did, however, speak to the matter of
>> pronunciation in an intermission interview from the 1962 Metropolitan
>> Opera broadcast. She corrected interviewer John Gutman, who sounded
>> the "t," by stating that the last "t" was not pronounced by Puccini
>> or Toscanini. Eva Turner, who was at the La Scala premiere and
>> shortly thereafter sang the role in Brescia and other houses, was
>> interviewed during a 1987 Covent Garden broadcast of Turandot, in
>> which she stated that it was pronounced without the "t" at the
>> premiere under Toscanini, therefore whenever she sang the role, she
>> followed suit. She also stated that it would break up the musical
>> line too much to sound the "t."
>> III. Languages
>> The origin of the opera's story is from the Italian playwright Carlo
>> Gozzi's "Turandotte," a French spelling that demands a final "t"
>> sound. Speculation is that Gozzi got his story from either from a
>> French translation of Persian tales called "Le cabinet des f=E9es" or
>> from a French translation of The Arabian Nights." Although in
>> Italian, the name Turandot also would have the final "t" sounded,
>> Puccini did change it from the original Turandotte. Casali speculates
>> that Puccini could have done it so that the name would  be pronounced
>> in the French way with no final "t." He speculates further that
>> Puccini would have been aware that requiring singers, especially the
>> tenor and the chorus, to sing the name on very high held notes would
>> be difficult and that the final "t" would generally break up the
>> musical line too often, as Turner noted.
>> For whatever the reason, it seems to Casali that the evidence of the
>> early recordings and of those singers who were in or at the premiere
>> proves that certainly Toscanini and probably Puccini wanted the final
>> "t" silent for musical reasons.
>> Thus, Casali makes a fairly unassailable case that, for whatever the
>> reasons, the creators and subsequent performers did not use the final
>> "t" for three decades after the premiere, and, for whatever the
>> reasons, the tradition changed mid-century to sounding the "t" but
>> with continual exceptions by individual singers and productions.
>> Therefore, this seems to be a case (pace G & S) of " And I am right
>> and you are right, and all is right..."
>> Roy D.
>> 3. The report from Stefan Zucker:
>> From:    Stefan Zucker <[log in to unmask]>
>> Subject: Turandot pronunciation
>> I discussed the matter with Iris Adami Corradetti, Cigna and Olivero. =
>> None pronounced the "t." In conversation Corelli didn't pronounce it, as =
>> you can hear on recordings of our broadcasts, and as I recall he doesn't =
>> pronounce it on the RAI 1958 broadcast.
>> Stefan=20=
>> --
>> Nonetheless, opera companies and conductors seem to hold steadfast to the
>> pronunciation "Turan-dot." Until that changes, at least we know what
>> Puccini himself expected to hear, had he lived to hear it.
>> jason victor serinus
>> **********************************************
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