Libretto by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni after after same-name fairy tale by Carlo Gozzi
Musical director and conductor: Dmitri Jurowski
Stage-director: Vyacheslav Starodubtsev
Set designer: Pavel Dragunov
Costume designer: Sophia Tasmagambetova
Light designer: Sergey Skornetsky
Choirmaster: Vyacheslav Podelsky
Children’s choir choirmaster: Margarita Mezentseva
2 hours 50 minutes
Princess Turandot, proud and sour-tempered daughter of Chinese Emperor Altoum, sets deathly riddles to solve. The prettiest of women’s hand in marriage is promised to a lucky soul who happens to find answers to all three riddles while misfortune leads to death. Prince Calaf decides to aspire to the hand of Turandot at any cost... NOVAT presents stage director Vyacheslav Starodubtsev’s semi-stage version of the last masterpiece by Giacomo Puccini. Dmitri Jurowski is production’s musical director and conductor.
A crowd has gathered in the darkness of night against iron-bound walls of imperial palace in Beijing. A mandarin is announcing a royal decree: princess Turandot will only marry the one who will solve her three riddles. He who will make just one mistake is going to be executed — many have already forfeited their lives because of the empty-hearted princess. Executioner’s axe awaits a young Persian prince who failed to solve the three riddles — he will be beheaded at dawn.
Timur, aged deposed King of Tartary, and his loyal slave girl Liù, who won’t leave the old blind man’s side, appear in the huddle. The crowd nearly steamrolled over them but a well-built young man comes to their rescue: that is how Timur meets Calaf, his son who he gave up for lost. They happily recognize each other and joyful Liù greets the young prince respectively: it has been long since the slave girl hopelessly fell in love with prince Calaf.
The crowd awaits the first ray of the new rising Sun and the blood that will follow. Executioners are leading the victim out — the Persian prince. Words of plea are reaching palace walls but Turandot, beauty who doesn’t know what love is, appears on the balcony. Turandot charms Calaf; an irresistible attraction sparks in his heart and he is willing to try his fate. The Persian prince is being beheaded right in front of his eyes. Timur beseeches the son not to give way to blind passion and not to go to his doom. Royal ministers Ping, Pang and Pong want to stop Calaf from the fatal step; the crowd joins them. But all is for nothing — Calaf listens to no one. He strikes a huge gong and royal palace’s gates open in front of him.
Ping, Pang and Pong spent the night on the anxious seat. They are in distress and ruminating: how to stop the several years’ long bloodshed? Bad feelings about the upcoming end to peace and might of China tear at hearts of the three ministers. They are weeping over the fate of their country and their people.
People are gathering on a square in front of the imperial palace. Emperor Altoum is warning the unknown prince to abandon the trial while it still is not too late. But all is for nothing, the prince won’t back out. The mandarin repeats the condition of the dreadful trial. Turandot makes her appearance: she is full of hatred towards men. The princess proposes three riddles straight and the unknown prince is solving them. The first one — easily, the second one — with an effort, the third one — with great difficulty and nearly forfeiting his life. Turandot is in terror and calls on her farther the Emperor: may he take back his words and save her from men. But the Emperor is loyal to his word: Turandot must marry the one who solved the three riddles. The unknown prince does not want to compel the princess and suggests a new trial: should Turandot guess his name before sunrise, the victory will be hers and then let he be beheaded. The Emperor accepts the terms.
Beijing locals pass a broken night, they are looking for a key to the mystery that would grant harsh freedom to Turandot but nobody knows the name of the unknown prince. Ministers Ping, Pang and Pong meet Calaf in the imperial garden and are begging him to escape Beijing, save the city and its citizens from unrest and suffering. In the meantime Timur and Liù are captured for they are aware of the stranger’s name. Death awaits them should they fail to give it away. Liù confesses: yes, she does know the prince’s name but there are no tortures that would make her say it. Having no more strength to bear the agony Liù stabs herself to death with a dagger. Turandot is amazed by the self-sacrifice of the slave girl. A funeral procession is following empty-hearted Turandot’s new victim to her grave.
New day is breaking. With impassioned words and kisses Calaf engenders love in Turandot’s cold heart and she, being happy, surrenders to the victorious passion. The unknown prince, confident of victory, reveals himself: «I am prince Calaf, son of king Timur. The Sun is not yet up. You can have me beheaded!» But the young man knows that Turandot wields no more, she is in love.
The crowd is moving towards the imperial palace. Happy Turandot and Calaf are approaching the Emperor. Turandot tells her farther: the stranger’s name is Love! People are welcoming princess’s words in triumph: hardship and bloodshed are over.