Opera by Giacomo Puccini
The National Theatre in Prague |
Opera and Ballet
145 minutes |
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Italian original version with Czech and English surtitles
The storyline of the opera is inspired by Persian fairy-tale Turandot from the dervish Mokles’s 17th-century collection The One Thousand and One Nights. The theme of passionate love, essential for Romantic opera, is veiled in mysterious motifs of ice, fire, moon, while an erotic flame enigmatically blazes along with intense, unrelenting hatred, which we would rather expect to be present in works inspired by decadence or psychoanalysis.
Yet all that which, notwithstanding its modernism, gives Turandot the Romantic opera hallmark is Puccini’s musical idiom, which too encompasses plenty of “eccentric” facets – ranging from Oriental paraphrases, through a brutal orchestral sound, dissonant harmonies to wildly complex chorus and ensemble scenes – but what prevails is Puccini’s masterful melodic invention in the spirit of the legacy of his great Italian opera predecessors, yet utterly original – by and large, Puccinian.
The opera was premiered on 25 April 1926 at Milan’s La Scala, conducted by Arturo Toscanini, who paid tribute to the late Puccini when in Act 3, after the words “Liu, poesia!”, he laid down his baton, turned to the audience and announced: “Here the opera ends, because at this point the maestro died”. Alfano’s finale was only included in the next performance.
Giacomo Puccini worked on Turandot in the final years of his life, when he was fighting cancer of the larynx. Just as in the case of Madama Butterfly, he diligently strove to gain thorough knowledge of the culture and songs of an exotic, faraway land (in this case China). Puccini died before he managed to complete the opera: the task was undertaken by his friend and pupil Franco Alfano, who drew upon the 36 pages of sketches left by the composer.
National Theatre Orchestra and Chorus
Kühn Choir of Prague (Choir Master: Jaroslav Brych)
The Czech Philharmonic Children's Choir (Choir Master: Jiří Chvála)
The National Theatre Opera Ballet
Prague is full of opera and ballet performances.
The Prague National Theatre was built from the desire of the Czech people for national independence. Its building was financed from the collections on which participated broad masses of people as well as important donators (including the nobility and the emperor himself). The theatre foundation ceremonial on 16th May 1868 became a national celebration.
The theatre was opened in 1881. In the same year the theatre burned down, and this tragic event caused a huge wave of new collections to support the restoration of the theatre. The Prague National Theatre was re-opened in 1883 by the opera Libuše by Bedřich Smetana and since then it has been serving as a place of Czech national identity and as a flagship of the Czech culture to these days.
Excellent event, which i really enjoyed.