Three opera performances in a row may sound ridiculous, but my weekend in New York was virtually spent at Lincoln Center doing just that. When you start to recognize the cleaning staff and where the women’s bathroom lines are non-existent during intermissions, it’s time to get a life. Nevertheless, I indulged myself and got my opera fix good enough for a year.
Turandot’s staging was monumental and an “only at the Met” extravaganza. The cryptic story refers to the son of Timur and Samarkand, where the Sogdians ruled. The mythical princes, land and story must have been based on Central Asian history and the Silk Route trade that I discovered in modern-day Uzbekistan last year. (See 2014 posts on Samarkand). Learning this small piece of information helped me to connect and appreciate the historical setting for the opera.
Unfortunately, most of the production still felt unable to reconcile the fairy-talish Chinoiserie and stilted Chinese operatic dance movements with historical perspective. Despite many Asian attendees in the audience, I wondered if they were any better able to accept the strange mix. I wished I had seen Zhang Yi-Mou’s production of this opera in Beijing. The famous Chinese director utilized a cast of thousands and staged it in the Bird’s Nest Stadium
a few years ago.
The story is based on the princess demanding her suitors to answer three riddles to win her. If they didn’t, they got the QCECK (sound effect, with an abrupt horizontal hand Slash at the neck). I may need to dig further into the opera’s history and Puccini later to find a decent answer to my own riddle.
Photos, above: curtain calls for Turandot crew
Earlier in the day, I saw Anne Boleyn. Although the first half was a bit dull and heavy, the second half made up for it with a gripping unfolding of events and thrilling arias. Sandra Radvonovsky as Anne Boleyn and Jamie Barton as Jane Seymour were captivating together. See the curtain call below.