1994, London ROH, Turandot


Lyric Drama in Three Acts and Five Scenes


Sally Jacob’s designs for Ping and Pang

Composer : Giacomo Puccini
Librettist : Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni after Carlo Gozzi
Venue and Dates : Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London
12, 16, 19, 22, 24, 28 September
3, 24, 26, 31 October
2, 5 November 1994
Conductor : Daniele Gatti
Sir Edward Downes
Revival Director : Jeremy Sutcliffe (Original Director Andrei Serban, 1984)
Design : Sally Jacobs
Lighting : F Mitchell Dana
Choreography : Kate Flatt
Performers :
Mandarin : Roderick Earle
Turandot : Sharon Sweet (12, 16, 19, 22, 24, 28 Sept; 3 Oct)
Gwyneth Jones (24, 31 Oct; 5 Nov)
Alessandra Marc (26 Oct; 2 Nov)
Calaf : Giuseppe Giacomini (seemingly standing in for Michael Sylvester)
Liù : Elizabeth Norberg-Schulz (12, 16, 19, 22, 24, 28 Sept; 3 Oct)
Cynthia Haymon (24, 26, 31 Oct; 2, 5 Nov)
Timur : Giuseppe Giuseppini (12, 16, 19, 22, Sept)
Michael Druiett (24, 28 Sept; 3 Oct)
Mark Beesley (24, 26, 31  Oct; 2, 5 Nov)
Ping : Simon Keenlyside
Pang : Barry Banks (12, 16, 19, 22, 24, 28 Sept; 3 Oct)
Robin Leggate (24, 26, 31 Oct; 2, 5 Nov)
Pong : Francis Egerton
Altoum : John Dobson (except 2, 5 Nov)
Paul Crook (2, 5 Nov)
Solo Soprano 1 : Beth Michael
Solo Soprano 2 : Patricia Cameron
Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House in London
Chorus Master : Terry Edwards

Notes :


John Allison for Opera, November 1994

“This being the first night of the season, Puccini’s opera got off to an incongruous start with the people of Peking standing to attention during the playing of ‘God Save the Queen’ (Andrei Serban’s production opens with the curtain up). The preliminaries dispatched, nothing else in this very fine revival (by Jeremy Sutcliffe) of the ten-year-old staging seemed out of place: it was fresh and colourful, spectacular but of course free of the tinselly Chinoiserie that can obscure the chilling violence of the piece.”

‘Nessun dorma’ may be quite the wrong reason for going to Turandot, but it was perhaps the finest thing about this performance. Giuseppe Giacomini was an ideal Calaf, who made his Act 3 aria a musical experience: it was beautifully phrased, and – for a change – made sense in its dramatic context. Throughout the evening he sang with free, generous tone that would have left the so-called Three Tenors in the shade. None of the other principals quite matched him, though Covent Garden fielded a strong cast. Sharon Sweet, from her first entry (wheeled in on the ‘Sweet-trolley’, as the stage-hands apparently nicknamed it) was an imposing Turandot with plenty of vocal power; she made something meaningful of ‘In questa reggia’, but her choppy phrasing compromised the full, gleaming potential of her soprano. Elizabeth Norberg-Schulz (like Sweet, making her Royal Opera debut) was a diminutive Liù, radiant and focussed, very touching. Simon Keenlyside’s lyrical, athletic Ping led Barry Banks (Pang) and Francis Egerton (Pong) in a lovely trio. Giorgio Giuseppini mad an adequate dignified Timur, and John Dobson an excellent Altoum who avoided caricature by singing the old emperor’s notes.

Daniele Gatti’s conducting left a few doubts – he pulled the phrases around, made the Act 2 trio sound ‘arty’ – but he shaped a vibrant account of Puccini’s still startling score. Both chorus and orchestra were on form, auguring well for the coming season.

Extract from the British Journal by Tom Sutcliffe for Opera News,

January 7, 1995

“Covent Garden’s revival of Turandot (opened Sept. 12) was distinguished by Sharon Sweet’s sensitive, ear-caressing performance of the title role (therapy after overdoses of Gwyneth Jones), Giuseppe Giacomini’s intelligently musical Calàf, Elizabeth Norberg-Schulz’ unforced Liù, a luxuriously distinctive, firm Ping (young Simon Keenlyside) and Daniele Gatti’s sensuous, imaginative, highly flexible conducting.”

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