Red in tooth and sword, with every passion pushed up to its limit and lovers' confidences exchanged for fortissimo, Puccini's last opera turns a grim fairytale into a melody which lingers in everyone's mind even after the final cheer has died away.
By CHRISTOPHER SMITH
Red in tooth and sword, with every passion pushed up to its limit and lovers' confidences exchanged for fortissimo, Turandot — Puccini's last opera — turns a grim fairytale into a melody which lingers in everyone's mind even after the final cheer has died away.
Though not subtle or particularly original, Eugen Platon's production for the Chisinau National Opera, at the Theatre Royal in Norwich, has the solid merits of simplicity and directness, creating bright spectacle and allowing the singers every chance in their great testing moments.
Elena Gherman in the role of Liu shows the advantages of letting the volume taper away now and again and, as is usually the case, threatens to steal the show from that fierce character Turandot, played with unrelenting pride by Ludmila Magometova.
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As Calaf, Oghnyan Nicolov has to overcome slightness of stature and paleness of complexion with just his tenor voice, showing his mettle at the great climax with the whole audience willing him on.
His heroics stood out all the better against the comic exaggerations of the improbable Ping, Pang and Pong, while Vitalie Cires was dignified bass Timur.
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Under Nicolae Dohotaru the orchestra, despite some raw notes from the brass, added both excitement and atmosphere to oriental scenes where a little more precision in colour control might have paid dividends.