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LA Opera Presents Giacomo Puccini's spectacular Turandot from May 18 through June 8.

Puccini’s final opera showcasing the magnificent music of Italy's last great operatic composer created at the height of his maturity and technical mastery .

LA Opera will present Giacomo Puccini's spectacular Turandot, one of the grandest of all operas, from May 18 through June 8. Puccini's final opera showcasing the magnificent music of Italy's last great operatic composer created at the height of his maturity and technical mastery has continued to draw standing ovations over the last century.

When Puccini's untimely death in 1924 left his final opera unfinished, composer Franco Alfano was commissioned to create the ending for its world premiere at Milan's La Scala in 1926, and his version has the standard finale.

As a fairy tale set in legendary China, the opera is a departure from the composer's verismo image and reflects the European fascination with the exotica of Orientalism that shaped 19th-century European arts. Puccini had already explored it in Madama Butterfly, and now re-visits it with a richer, more exotic palette.

Baron Edoardo Fassini-Camossi, Italy's former Italian diplomat to China had given Puccini a music box that played four Chinese melodies, three of which Puccini incorporated into this opera, with the most memorable of these being the folk melody Mò Li Hūa 'Jasmine Flower', which serves as a leitmotif for Princess Turandot. Eight of the themes from Turandot appear to be based on traditional Chinese music and anthems.

However, as elsewhere the Orientalism of the opera remains remains rooted in the West, and remains China as seen by Europeans. The plot's central dramatic moment is the life and death confrontation between the Princess Turandot and the Unknown Prince posed by the three riddles which must be correctly answered for the prince to escape execution are rooted in the enigmas in the classical tradition of Ancient Greece, and the comedic characters of the ministers Ping, Pang and Pong are straight out of Italy's commedia del arte tradition.

For many years, the government of the People's Republic of China forbade performance of Turandot because to them it portrayed China and the Chinese unfavorably. They finally relented for the international collaboration Turandot at the Forbidden City performed for eight nights in September 1998. Conducted by Zubin Mehta, the production featured opulent sets, even using soldiers from the People's Liberation Army as extras.

The opera's celebrated aria Nessun dorma has become a staple of operatic recitals, with Luciano Pavarotti taking it beyond the operatic world by performing it for a global general audience at the 1990 World Cup, and the Three Tenors performed it at three subsequent World Cup Finals. Many crossover and pop artists have continued to perform and record it, and it has been used in the soundtracks of numerous films.

A co-production of San Francisco Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago, the LA production is new to Los Angeles. Turandot's soprano role is demanding both in its range - from vulnerability to the ice-cold princess of her bloody reign. It must also keep the audience attention and audience sympathy from being upstaged by the other soprano - the selfless Liu tugging at the audience's heartstrings. Angela Meade is up for this this challenging role, with Russell Thomas as her fearless suitor.

Conducted by LA Opera's Music Director James Conlon, the production features stage designs by David Hockney, long associated with Southern California, creating the splendor and spectacle of imperial China.

Turandot is sung in Italian with English subtitles, with a running time of two hours and 55 minutes which includes two intermissions. There will be six performances of Turandot, all at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

For more information about the production is available at


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