Turandot Three-act opera by Giacomo Puccini

Three-act opera by Giacomo Puccini

Libretto by Giuseppe Adamie and Renato Simoni



Set design by Boris Stoynov


Choir Conductor  - NEVENA MIHAYLOVA

Choreography by BORYAN SECHANOV

Concertmaster - YORDAN KOVACHEV

Assistant Director - DARINA GLAVANAKOVA






Production associates:

Head of production and theater master - Ivan Furtunov

Head of artistic lighting - KIRIL KARADIMOV


Head of the sewing studio - KITCHKA GROZEVA


Wardrobe manager - DIMKA RUSEVA


Artistic sounding by Veselin Penchev

Multimedia and photo studio - NEDELKO BAMBEKOV

Marketing and Sales - VIOLETA GUDZHEVA



            The word "Turandot" is of Persian origin and means "the daughter of Turan." Turan is a region in Central Asia that once belonged to the Persian Empire. In Persian, this magical tale is known as "Turandokht", while "dokht" is an abbreviation of "dokhtar" which means "daughter".

            The story of Princess Turandot is drawn from the Persian short story entitled "One Thousand Days," or "Hezar-o-yek-shab," translated in 1722 by François Petit de La Croix. This compilation is actually the other part of the well-known Thousand and One Nights. The story of Turandot is one of the most popular of de la Croix's translations, and its plot is conditioned by the classic trinity of space, time and action.

            Puccini began working on Turandot in March 1920 after meeting his librettists Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni. Four years later, the opera was composed to the final duet. Unhappy with his lyrics, however, Puccini stopped working until October 8, when he stopped at Adam's fourth version of the duo's text. Just two days later, he was diagnosed with throat cancer and the composer went to Brussels to undergo new, experimental radiation therapy. Puccini and his wife never know the severity of his illness; the real diagnosis was only revealed to their son. On November 24, 1924, Puccini died of complications resulting from a fatal illness.

            It leaves behind 23 pages with 36 sketches, including those of the great final duo of Turandot and Calaf. They are also instructed that Ricardo Zandonay is the person entrusted with completing the opera. However, Puccini Tonio's son resists, and ultimately Franco Alfano is elected. Alfano creates the first version of the Turandot finale with a few passages added by himself, allowing himself to invest in libretto even sentences disapproved by Puccini himself. To put it mildly, the unkind criticism of both editor Ricordi and conductor Arturo Toscanini himself does not linger and Alfano is forced to write a second, exactly following Puccini's sketches and adhering strictly to the composer's finale style - so long as he does not even allow himself to be drawn part of Adam's text that Puccini did not indicate that he wanted to be included in the music. Ricordi's real concern, however, is not the quality of Alfano's work, but his deep desire for the end of Turandot to sound as written by Puccini himself - and Alfano's editorial fails to "dry" the final touches left by the composer. The debate over which of the two versions of the finale is more successful is open to this day, but the general opinion tends to be the first attempt by Alfano. A careful study of the sketches left by Puccini, with which Ricordi later allows scientists to get acquainted (and some of them are even published), shows how Alfano did not even attempt to use most of the shorter notes left by the composer, except for those without whom stylistic consistency would simply be impossible.

            The Turandot premiere was at the Milan Scale on Sunday 25 April 1926, a year and five months after Puccini's death. The conductor is Arturo Toscanini. In the middle of Act III, two strokes after the “Liu, poesia!” Cue, the orchestra freezes. Tuscanini stops conducting and puts his baton on the console, then slowly turns his face to the audience and says, "This is where the opera ends because after that the maestro dies." The curtain is slowly falling. The audience remains in grave silence. Moments later, the exclamations of "Glory to Puccini!" Erupt, for the first time, the opera with the finale of Franco Alfano is performed on the second performance.

            For many years, the Government of the People's Republic of China has forbidden Turandot from assuming that the work depicts China and the Chinese in a negative light. However, in the late 1990s, a period of more conciliatory state policy occurred, and in September 1998, for eight consecutive nights, the opera was played in the Forbidden City with lavish scenery and even soldiers from the People's Liberation Army as extras. The production is international; the director and choreographer are Zang Imu and the conductor is Zubin Meta. The role of Princess Turandot is Giovanni Casola, Calaf is Sergei Larin, and Liu is Barbara Fritoli.



Turandot, Chinese princess

Emperor Altum, her father

Timur, a dethroned Tatar king

The Unknown Prince (Calaf), Timur's son

Liu, slave

Ping, the great vizier

Pang, Mayor

Pong, the great imperial cook


The Prince of Persia

The executioner (Pu-Ting-Pao)




            Square in front of the Imperial Palace in the Forbidden City. The troubled people gathered for the execution of the young Prince of Persia. He is another who has failed to answer Turandot's mysteries. The beautiful but cruel princess has announced that she will marry only the one who manages to solve three riddles. However, if he fails, he will pay with his head. Many have dared to ask for the hand of the beautiful princess, but all but one have fallen victim to it. The crowd, though accustomed to the bloody sights, endlessly sympathizes with the young prince who begs Turandot to give him life; but the princess is adamant. After the gathering was the young Tatar Prince Calaf, who had long been searching for his father, the dethroned ruler in exile Timur. When the guards come to the clutter, an old man falls and Calaf rushes to help him. To his surprise, in the face of the old man, Calaf recognizes his father. Forced to flee, he took with him young slave Liu to help him. Liu is happy to meet Calaf again, in love with whom she has long been in love - she actually went with Timur, hiding the hope of meeting him again. At this point, Turandot appears on the square. As soon as he sees her, Calaf falls in love with her half-heartedly. Neither the pleas of his elderly father, nor the affectionate words of Liu, nor the bloody execution he had just witnessed, is able to change his feelings. Calaf hits the gong three times: he is yet another candidate for the hand of the lovely Turandot, who will either answer the three riddles or die.



            Room in the palace. Ping, Pang, and Pong are very concerned. What prepared them for the new morning - wedding or another execution? The three are already tired of death so much. Life would be so wonderful without another death sentence. Isn't there finally going to be a man to figure out the three riddles ... What kind of madman is the new candidate for the princess's hand? And what will be his fate - a prince or a dead man?

            Square in front of the Imperial Palace in the Forbidden City. The people are eager for another spectacle. Emperor Altum, Turandot's father, tries in vain to refuse the unknown prince from the test of riddles. Even the detailed description of the bloody scenes that happened through Turandot's fault is unable to shake the young man in love. A mandarin announces the beginning of the ordeal. Turandot appears. In the beginning, she tells the gathering many reasons to hate the male gender: the criminal indignation of her grandmother. Turandot then announces the first riddle: "What is that glorious vision that begets and lures a person at night and dies in the morning to rise again the next night?" "The answer is hope," Calaf quickly replies. Turandot is a little disturbed, but he also asks his second question: "It burns like a flame, but it's not a flame if a person dies - it cools, and when one wins, it sparkles like a sun?" Calaf ponders. A smile smiles on Turandot's face, but it immediately melts when Calaf says, "This is blood." The princess is worried. No longer so confidently asks the third with a riddle: "What is it that looks like ice but freezes from the fire, if you are free, you are held in bondage, and you become a slave to it, you become a king?" There are endless moments. of tense silence. The crowd eagerly urges the boy to respond, Liu and Timur are shaken by anxiety about his life. Turandot already feels victorious. But Calaf replies: "This is my victory. This is you, Turandot! The crowd rejoices - at last, the bloody executions will remain in the past and the future looks beautiful. Turandot is shocked. She begs her father not to give her to the stranger. But Altum reminds her of her promise. Then Calaf offers her a deal - "You have given me three puzzles; I will only ask you one. I am a stranger in this city. If you know my name by sunrise tomorrow, I will die at sunrise ... "



            The garden of the imperial palace. Under the threat of the death penalty, no one in the city should sleep until the alien's name is known. Such an order was issued by Turandot. As people fuss about trying to learn how to say the mysterious stranger, Calaf himself sits in the palace garden, filled with longing for love: "The mystery is locked in me, my name no one will know and at dawn, I will win." Ping, Pang, and Pong come. They offer the young man untold riches and everything he wants to leave the Forbidden City. The three are convinced that Turandot will do the impossible, but he'll learn the alien's name and start over. Calaf is adamant. Nothing will stop him from taking the princess for his wife in a few hours. Meanwhile, the princess's guards have captured Timur and Liu because they were seen talking to a stranger. Desiring to learn the alien name Turandot stops short of nothing. She orders to torture Liu until they know the name. But the slave is firm, the torment cannot make her speak. Asked by the astonished Turandot that makes her so unbreakable, Liu replies "Love." Calaf comes. In vain are his efforts to ask the Princess to end her torture. In order not to divulge his master's name, Liu pulls a knife from the waistband of one of his executioners and commits suicide. Shocked by her sacrifice, the executioners take the girl's corpse. Another victim on Turandot's account. To the east, it begins to light. Once again the princess repels Calaf's hand. Then he takes her in his arms and kisses her. This kiss seems to melt Turandot. Tears run down her cheeks. Calaf reveals her name to her…

            Square in front of the Imperial Palace in the Forbidden City. Calaf and Turandot face the assembled crowd. Everyone waits for what is to come - a wedding or death. To her father, the princess says, "I know the name of the stranger prince. It's love! ... "The crowd is immensely happy. Together they raise a hymn, glorifying life and human love ...