Conductor – David Wroe; New York City Opera, Monmouth Civic Chorus, and Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company; Turandot – Othalie Graham, Calaf – Carlo Scibelli, Liu – Julianne Borg, Timur – Kevin Maynor.
Story: Prince Calaf, who just reunited with his father
We have lived in
My impression of the performance was amateurish, although the result was generally satisfactory. The orchestra and chorus each consisted of about 60 members, the soloists mostly sang the music, and some of the scenes were acted out by the dance troupe.
Sometimes I feel “Turandot” should be re-titled “Liu”. The slave girl certainly had more memorable arias, and Borg delivered the two well-known ones (in Acts 1 and 3) with feeling and precision. Her performance was by far the best among the soloists. The other two characters mostly shouted out their lines. Scibelli (as Calaf) every now and then struggled with his intonation. I felt a great sense of relief when he successfully sang “Nessun Dorma”: it had a wobbly beginning, but he managed the last notes well. Turandot’s arias were not easily hummed, which was a pity for the role.
The orchestra and chorus were generally quite good, despite confusion every now and then, and several miscues. Saying that the “world-class” orchestra “rivals any in the
It was quite interesting to have dancers perform some of the scenes. I find the ones depicting the riddles and Liu’s death particularly enjoyable. (Anne pointed out the riddles to me.) We were seated too far back to really appreciate the dancing, though.
Perhaps some of the loudness was attributable to the sound system, which was particularly problematic. It sounded tinny and the occurrences of loud feedback were too frequent for a professional venue like the
A good opera performance captures one’s imagination. A whisper can hold the rapt attention of the audience. Unfortunately those moments were not to be found tonight.
In any case, Turandot is an opera easily enjoyed, with several great arias, a generally good storyline, and several passages based on popular Chinese folk melodies. I am still confused whether it is a comedy or a tragedy, though. Calaf’s success and happiness follow a bit too closely Liu’s self-sacrifice.
Perhaps my real feeling about tonight is the realization that it is often worth it to pay $100 or more for an opera performance in