Turandot (Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour) – Limelight Magazine
Turandot (Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour) on Limelight Magazine - 25.03.2016
Review: Turandot (Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour)
The Turandot story has a complex history. The tale first appears in The Seven Beauties, an erotic epic by the Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi, written in 1197. Puccini picked it up via Friedrich Schiller's moralistic 1801 adaptation of a subversive commedia del arte play by Carlo Gozzi. It is therefore an Italian composer’s view of a German poet’s take on an Italian comedy based on a Persian-eye view of Chinese history. Culturally complicated? Perhaps. But Puccini cared a great deal about imbuing his work with ‘authentic’ elements and his final opera, written between 1920 and 1924 and famously incomplete at the time of his death, is full of genuine Chinese tunes and a clanging array of representative percussive effects.
For Opera Australia’s fifth Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour, Lyndon Terracini went back to basics by hiring China-born, New York-based director Chen Shi-Zhen, a man skilled in both Chinese theatrical disciplines and epic theatre (he came to prominence with the 20-hour Kunqu opera, The Peony Pavilion, at Lincoln Center in 1999). As such, he’s ideally placed to nip any cultural cringe in the bud and deliver a memorably grand night of operatic spectacle. And that is precisely what he does thanks to an excellent cast, a stunning chorus and a staging that holds the eye by relying on design and movement rather than on gimmickry and technical sleight of hand...