Saturday, March 05, 2005


Conductor:  Bertrand de Billy
Production:  Franco Zeffirelli

Turandot: Andrea Gruber (soprano)
Liù: Krassimira Stoyanova (soprano)
Calàf: Johan Botha (tenor)
Timur: Hao Jiang Tian (bass)

While I was in New York, I went to the Metropolitan Opera to see Turandot. I am a sucker for Turandot. When she says "His name is love," it's one of the greatest moments in opera.

I have been to the Metropolitan only once before when I sat in the orchestra. This time I was in the center of the dress circle, a wonderful place to sit, and especially wonderful for this fabulous production--they have revived the Zefferelli production. I believe the tiers are closer to the stage in the Metropolitan than they are in San Francisco, so the center of the dress circle feels like the best seat in the house. It's a great house, with great acoustics, great sight lines (for a horseshoe theater), with a great tradition.

In the lobby were costumes that had been worn by Renata Tebaldi in her appearances at the Met. She died that week.

The Metropolitan Opera is very traditional, very fuddy-duddy, very out of touch with the rest of the opera world.

Andrea Gruber appeared in the role of Turandot. Her big soprano voice has a harsh edge to it, hardly a drawback in the role of Turandot, who shouts at the top of her voice the entire time. I tend to think that this is a role to avoid (Lady Macbeth is another) unless you are very sure of your shouting abilities. Advice: sing it when you are young to get cast and advance your career, then avoid it like the plague once you can get away with it. It's the only Puccini role that's like this.

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