Recorded on 12/31/1969, uploaded on 04/09/2009
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
Perhaps Puccini’s finest opera, Turandot was also his last and left unfinished at his death. He first became interested in the story of Turandot after a reading of Schiller’s adaptation, though the eventual plot of the opera derives more from an earlier commedia dell’arte play by Carlo Gozzi. The libretto was crafted by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni and Puccini began working on the opera in March 1920. By March 1924, he had completed Turandot up through the final duet yet was delayed in proceeding any further due to his dissatisfaction with the text. However, a mere two days after he began work on the final duet in October, Puccini was diagnosed with throat cancer. At the end of November, he traveled to Brussels, Belgium for an experimental radiation treatment. The treatment at first seemed effective but the composer succumbed to a heart attack on November 29. Likely aware of the seriousness of his illness, Puccini left directions that Riccardo Zandonai was to complete Turandot. Despite the composer’s wishes, Franco Alfano, a former pupil of Puccini’s, was chosen instead by Puccini’s editor Giulio Ricordi. Nearly a year and a half after the composer’s death, Turandot premiered at La Scala on April 25, 1926 but without Alfano’s ending. Two measures after the words “Liù, poesia!,” the orchestra stopped playing and Toscanini, who conducted the premiered, turned to the audience and said, Qui finisce l'opera, perché a questo punto il maestro è morto" ("Here the opera ends, because at this point the maestro died"). The following performances included the ending provided by Alfano. Turandot quickly spread to other venues throughout Europe and the Americas, and has remained a staple of the repertoire.
Set in Imperial China, the Princess Turandot is bound by imperial decree that she will only marry a man of royal blood who can correctly answer three riddles. The punishment for answering incorrectly, however, is death. Calàf, known as The Unknown Prince, answers the riddles correctly to Turandot’s great surprise. Despite the conditions being met, Turandot remains unwilling to marry and pleads with her father to be released from the decree. She is refused and Calàf offers her a way out: he will sacrifice his own life if she can guess his name. At the opening of the final Act, Turandot issues a command that the Prince’s name must be learned and anyone caught sleeping that night shall face death. Yet, she is unable to learn his name and is forced to face him the next morning. Even in her defeat, she resists him but Calàf, confident that she truly loves him, tells Turandot his name, placing his life in her hands. The two appear before the Emperor and Turandot proclaims the Prince’s name: Love.
Easily one of the most popular and recognized tenor arias, Nessun dorma (“None shall sleep”), comes at the beginning of Act III and is Calàf’s response to Turandot’s command. Calàf confidently proclaims that the Princess will be unable to learn his name and he will be victorious over her. After a 1972 recording, the aria became known as the signature aria of Luciano Pavarotti, though he rarely performed the role of Calàf on stage. Joseph DuBose
We at classicalconnect.com believe that classical music is a necessity of life. It is our pleasure to be your virtual concert hall and bring you this performance.
Copyright 2008-2010 Classical Connect, LLC