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Puccini's Turandot




Puccini, Turandot
Puccini, Turandot Art Print
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Review of performance--Teatro Lirico d'Europa--Boston--March 20, 2000


TURANDOT. At the Emerson Majestic Theatre in Boston, March 20, 2000. Music by Giacomo Puccini. Libretto by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simioni, based on Schiller's version of a play by the same name by Count Carlo Gozzi. With Hristo Sarafov (a mandarin), Qilian Chen (Liù), Roumen Doikov (Calaf), Emil Ponorski (Timur), Avalee Beckmann (Turandot), Vassia Krastef (the Emperor Altoum), Alexander Tinkov (Ping), Dimeter Dimitrov (Pang), and Pancho Ivanov (Pong). Chorus and Orchestra of Teatro Lirico d'Europa. Conducted by Joseph Illick. Artistic director/stage direction by Giorgio Lalov. Sets and costumes by Valentine Topencharov.

Teatro Lirico d'Europa, a traveling opera company from Europe, put on a fully staged performance of Puccini's Turandot at the Emerson Majestic Theatre in Boston on the evening of Monday March 20, 2000. (Another performance, also sold out, is scheduled for the following evening with a different singer in the title role.)

The performance was a very good one. The Emerson Majestic is a somewhat small theatre of the size one associates with performances of plays. The small stage presents little room for the potential spectacle of an opera like Turandot, which takes place amid the splendor of the imperial court of China. At the Majestic, however, the audience does have the benefit of seeing and hearing the singers up close in an intimate setting, quite the opposite of the experience one encounters in large houses such as New York's Metropolitan.

The Teatro Lirico d'Europa tours with an orchestra of 50 and a chorus of 40. The members of the orchestra are Bulgarian, and the singers are from a variety of national backgrounds. Both chorus and orchestra performed at a high level, no doubt having benefited from performing the opera a number of times. The costumes, on the other hand, lacked the fresh appearance one normally sees at the opera.

The chorus displayed especially good enunciation of the Italian text, as indeed did the soloists as well. I had not noticed the names of the singers performing the roles of the Mandarin and of Ping, Pang, and Pong before the opera began. I thought that perhaps they were Italian, so clear was their delivery of the text. The Ping, Pang, and Pong were also very good at the comedy their roles call for, without any overacting or inappropriately broad physical humor.

The three principal soloists all had pleasing voices that carried very well in the hall. Qilian Chin as Liu was especially moving in the third act, when she sang of her reasons for not revealing the name of the unknown prince. The Canadian soprano Avalee Beckmann was a commanding presence as Turandot. She sang with a welcome degree of emotion and dramatic intelligence. The most impressive singer of the evening, at least to me, was the tenor Roumen Doikov. His voice has a virile, heroic sound very appropriate to the role, and he sang so pleasantly as to suggest that his voice would be a good one to hear on recordings.

I look forward to future tours of this company. I believe that they will be touring Verdi's Nabucco in the coming season.

--John Pierce


The Boston Globe of March 24, 2000, reports that at the Tuesday performance by Teatro Lirico d'Europa, the role of Turandot was sung by the American soprano Leslie Morgan. The Ukrainian soprano Tamara Kutsenko, who had been scheduled to sing, was unable to obtain a visa.