TURANDOT | London, Royal Opera House

Nearly a century after its premiere in 1926, Andrei Serban’s spectacular 1984 production of Puccini’s final opera has been revived, with an even more spectacular cast than last time. South Korean tenor Yonghoon Lee steals the show as Calaf, the brave suitor desperate to win the hand of cruel Princess Turandot (Anna Pirozzi). With his piercing, resonant tenor, bringing up the character’s turmoil and anguish front and centre, the showstopping aria “Nessun dorma” in Act III is an out-of-body experience.

Equally remarkable are the commedia dell’arte trio, Ping (Hansung Yoo), Pang (Aled Hall), and Pong (Michael Gibson). Showcasing utter vocal control, they squat and somersault like out-of-control harlequins, even while singing. Suddenly calming down, their aria of longing for home (“Ho una casa nell’Honan”) captures a beautiful moment of time stopped.

The Royal Opera Chorus continuously energise the stage both vocally and with their physical presence, sometimes as witnesses to the execution, and sometimes as frenzied peasants, desperately rushing to catch the action, blending with the dance ensemble’s ritualistic choreography (Kate Flatt).

Sir Antonio Pappano, Music Director of The Royal Opera, leads the orchestra of the Royal Opera House in a rousing, all-guns blazing performance. Grand and sublime.

Playing at the Royal Opera House 10 March – 13 April 2023.

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