LABELS: Opus Arte
ALBUM TITLE: Puccini: Turandot
PERFORMER: Lise Lindstrom, Marco Berti, Eri Nakamura, Raymond Aceto; ROH Chorus & Orchestra/Henrik Nánási; dir. Andrei Serban (London, 2013)
CATALOGUE NO: DVD: OA 1132 D; Blu-ray: OA BD7142 D
One of my most valued video recordings is this production’s original 1984 broadcast, with Gwyneth Jones and Franco Bonisolli, sadly never released commercially. This, however, is an excellent substitute, since Andrei Serban’s galvanically colourful staging has survived with remarkable vigour. Serban’s studies of Asian theatre enabled him to avoid the usual Chinese-restaurant look, creating a theatre-within-a-theatre filled with dance, grotesque masks and pageantry in constant, fluid motion.
Lise Lindstrom is pretty much the ideal Ice Princess: her voice one of steely intensity. In the Riddle Scene she flutters over Calaf with vampiric sadism, yet also conveys Turandot’s uncertainty and misdirected emotions. Mario Berti as Calaf has a clarion voice and dignified presence, radiating a grim courage that suggests he is driven by humanity as well as passion. Eri Nakamura’s Liu is equally fine, vulnerable and full of hopeless love, and Raymond Aceto is a touching Timur. Serban transformed the three Masks from caricatures into real protagonists, pastel-clad athletic clowns at once sinister and touching; they’re exceptionally well sung here, as is Alasdair Elliot’s Emperor. The all-important chorus sings with vibrant energy, and the dancers are creepily impressive.
Henrik Nánási conducts with considerable power and the stage direction preserves Serban’s original well. This new version outclasses the two excellent Met videos both musically and dramatically.
Michael Scott Rohan