Magazine article Musical Opinion

Turandot at Covent Garden

Magazine article Musical Opinion

Turandot at Covent Garden

Article excerpt

I first saw Turandot at Covent Garden on 29 May 1947 when it was conducted by Constant Lambert and was the last production in which the great Eva Turner sang the title role. She was magnificent and in remarkably robust voice. I've loved the opera ever since. Even then, however, I found the ending irritatingly brief after the expansive writing which Puccini gave to the first two Acts. It was only after hearing the 1984 concert performance with Franco Alfano's original ending that I felt close to Puccini's intentions. Alan Sievewright writes about his researches and the latest news of the Alfano scoring in this issue and I can only applaud his work on behalf of Puccini.

Since 1947 I have seen many Turandots with a variety of good, bad and indifferent singers. Of the many productions I happily admit that Andrei Serban's Royal Opera staging, first seen at the opening of the Olympic Games festivities in Los Angeles in 1984, has remained my favourite. Sally Jacobs' use of masks and the spectacular placing of the Chorus at the back of the stage on tiers where they come and go remains exciting and everything a Grand Operagoer could ask for.

The latest revival, by Jeremy Sutcliffe, brought a largely new crop of singers. However, when you have such experienced troopers as Robert Lloyd projecting the role of Timur and Francis Egerton bringing equal experience and imagery to the Emperor you know that the nuts and bolts of the performance are in good hands. Among the newcomers were two different yet absolutely valid singers sharing the role of Liu. First was the Chinese soprano Li Ping Zhang, making her Covent Garden debut. On 24 September she brought a gentle yet wholly reliable sense of support to Lloyd's crippled King, her voice clean and clear and her personality touching in the extreme. On 14 October Liu was played and sung by the Greek soprano Elena Kelessidi, whom I had heard in Amsterdam's latest Turandot. …

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