Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Princess Turandot- A memorable evening in St. Petersburg

Yesterday evening I went to see the famous opera Princess Turandot at the Muzique Holl theatre in St. Petersburg. I was struck by the sounds and colours of the spectacle. The Beijing Opera did a superb job and it made the evening of 18th September one of the memorable evenings of my life.

The Opera tells the tale of the beautiful but cold Chinese Princess Turandot who has put a condition to all her suitors to answer her three very difficult riddles in order to marry her. Those who accept the challenge but fail to answer her three riddles will be put to death. Many Princesses and young men have lost their lives in pursuit of marrying the young and beautiful Princess. The Prince of Persia has just been executed. A Tartar Prince is determined to try his luck and accepts the challenge. The people dissuade him warning that all who have tried their luck so far have met a sad end and he should save his life, there is still some time left. But the Prince is adamant and is ready for any outcome.
Princess Tourandot put three riddles to him –
First riddle -"What is born each night and dies each dawn?" The Prince correctly replies, "Hope."
Second riddle -"What flickers red and warm like a flame, but is not fire?" The Prince thinks for a moment before replying, "Blood". Turandot is shaken.
Third riddle- "What is like ice, but burns like fire?" As the prince thinks, Turandot taunts him. Suddenly he cries out victory and announces, "Turandot!"
Princess now has to marry the Prince and she cries bitterly about her loss. The Prince is kind and tells the Princes that if she tells his name by tomorrow morning then he will die and she will become free once again. The Princess orders the whole city to find asnswer by tomorrow morning or face death. The ministers of the Princess question two persons , an old man and a young girl, whom he was speaking to earlier. The old man says he knows nothing but the young girl says she knows his name but will reveal nothing. She is tortured by the ministers of the Princess Turandot and then she is put to death. Prince himself tells the princess his name and says that its upto her to let him live or die as if the Princess takes announces his name the Prince will die.
The Princess does not announce his name in the morning and love triumphs in the end.

More details
NB- Pics and Videos to follow


Blogger lindsaylobe said...

I think opera is one of the greatest artistic forms imaginable, since it encapsulates so many areas of artistry. The Musical score captures all of the timbers of the human voice without the need for amplification, supplemnted by a majestic orchestra, to tell stories and histories which capture all of our emotions, seen with dazzling choreography, a product of brilliant lighting and staging.

You no doubt were enthralled by many of these aspects as was evident in your posting.

When I was younger I used to have singing lessons with a tenor who was a principal with the Australian Opera, he was able to organise tickets cheaply to the opera which cost only five dollars.

I think Puccini is one of my favourite composers who I understand began composing music for that opera early in 1921. To ensure authenticity he listened to a Chinese music box, and studied sheets of relevant folk music. However Puccini died in 1924 with the opera complete only to the start of the 3rd Act.

Conductor Toscanini arranged for the musical score be given to composer Franco Alfano for completion. Toscanini wasn't thrilled with the result, as it is recorded on its premiere when the opera reached the third act; (where Puccini's music stopped and Alfano's began) Toscanini refused to continue and laid down his baton.

However the musical score was eventually published with Alfano's ending, but appropriately edited by Toscanini.

Best wishes

27/9/07 5:07 pm  
Anonymous patrick said...


turandot's one of my favorites.. you're lucky to have watched it already. =)

1/10/07 1:58 am  
Blogger A_N_Nanda said...

Hi Abhay,
Does the story not resemble the other Indian folklore, the marriage of the novice Kalidas with the genius lady called Padmavati? Of course, unlike Turandot Padmavati was not out to kill the losers, but nevertheless insulted them for not being able to satisfy her with the replies to her riddles. It appears people geographically separated used to think alike!


4/10/07 9:07 pm  
Blogger abhay k said...

Hi Lindsay,
Thank you so much for your enlightened comment here as always.
I am new to Opera and the first Opera I went to in Moscow was called the Demon. I was enthralled by the richness of color and voice of Beijing Opera in Turandot.
Thank you so much!

Thank you so much Patrick for Blog-hopping and visiting me!

Mr. Nanda, thank you so much for visiting me. How are you and how is your book 'the remix of orchid' doing?

16/10/07 4:22 pm  

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