There are some things that you just have to attend at least once in your life – and one of them is the opera. Turandot (or, as a lot of people kept saying to me, “the ‘Nessun Dorma’ show”) is definitely a good place to start if you are not too sure where to begin!
Giacomo Puccini’s Turandot follows the story of Princess Turandot (Iréne Theorin), who has sworn that any man vying for her love has to solve three riddles correctly: if he fails, he will be executed. We see exiled Prince Calaf (Alfred Kim) step up to try and win Turandot’s hand, with surprising results.
The Royal Opera House is hardly a newbie when it comes Turandot, considering it is now in its fifteenth revival. It is steeped within opera tradition, with over-the-top staging and even brighter costumes. You cannot deny that this production of Turandot is big and bold. When we see an execution taking place within the opening scenes, you know it is going to be a weird old ride.
For someone that has never been to the opera, it might be a culture shock – for all of five minutes. It immediately captivates you, as you wonder just what the characters are going to do next. We are also met with a bit of comic relief as we meet Ping, Pang and Pong (Grant Doyle, David Butt Philip and Luis Gomes respectively).
It is really the singing that mesmerises you from beginning to end. Theorin lights up the stage as the cold-hearted Turandot, and her change throughout the whole show is really something to die for. The Most Valuable Player award in Turandot definitely goes to Ailyn Peréz however, who steals the show in the role of Liu. It is a heartbreakingly wonderful performance from beginning to end; it completely made me understand why some people get tears in their eyes while watching the opera.
I know what you are thinking, though: how was ‘Nessun Dorma’? Well, it was just as amazing as you would think it would be. As mentioned before, newcomers might be surprised to know that the song appears two acts in, and is performed solo – but it is still magical. The orchestra build up to that perfect moment that you are waiting for, and when Kim hits that note, you are holding back the urge to stand and whoop loudly. It’s an astounding experience that everybody should witness.
I am not going to lie to you – half the time I wasn’t quite sure what was going on, and you might get a slightly stiff neck if you are looking at the subtitles, but it is a truly spellbinding experience with magnificent acting and absolutely incredible singing. Everybody needs to see this.
Turandot is playing at the Royal Opera House until 17 March. For more information and tickets, see the Royal Opera House’s website.