Turandot

Dramma lyrico in three acts; Libretto by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni, after the play by Carlo Gozzi; First performed on 25th April 1929 in Milan; Premiered at the Deutsche Oper Berlin on 13th September 2008
In Italien with German and English surtitles

Society lives in terror of a Princess. Turandot, the fascinating and beautiful representative of a ruling dynasty, presides over the cruelty. Matrimony alone seems likely to end the violence, yet no suitor has managed to solve her riddles and win her hand. Time and again the same scene is played out, ending in yet another execution. Against all expectations, Calaf, son of an exiled potentate from a far-off country, breaks the mould. He answers her questions and crowns his triumph by turning the tables, extending the game of riddles and asking the Princess a question in return.

In his early sixties Puccini is still keen to break new ground. Society is in a state of flux, huge changes are sweeping the art world, fresh and more abstract forms are asserting themselves as a way of expressing the world as we know it. Puccini spent the last four years of his life working on TURANDOT, basing his opera on Carlo Gozzi's fairytale play of 1762. Far from conjuring up an endearing, doll-like China, the exotic tones of this, his richest and most dissonant score, present us with a world steeped in an atmosphere of inconceivable cruelty.

The resolution of the drama was to prove an insurmountable obstacle for Puccini. Although he was uneasy at the prospect of any opera of his ending happily he never extricated himself from the cul de sac into which he had manoeuvred himself with the selfless death of Liu and the imminent coming together of Turandot and Calaf. The question as to what might possibly draw these two characters together remained unanswered. The notion of an all-encompassing love as an instrument of redemption that overcomes all obstacles so fascinated and repelled Puccini that he found himself unable to capture this Utopia for the stage. When he died in 1924 with the work unfinished, the publishing house of Ricordi commissioned the composer Franco Alfano to complete the opera in line with sketches left behind by Puccini.

 

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May 2019

Deutsche Oper Berlin

The Deutsche Oper Berlin is an opera company located in the Charlottenburg district of Berlin, Germany. The resident building is the country's second largest opera house and also home to the Berlin State Ballet.

The company's history goes back to the Deutsches Opernhaus built by the then independent city of Charlottenburg—the "richest town of Prussia"—according to plans designed by Heinrich Seeling from 1911. It opened on November 7, 1912 with a performance of Beethoven's Fidelio, conducted by Ignatz Waghalter. After the incorporation of Charlottenburg by the 1920 Greater Berlin Act, the name of the resident building was changed to Städtische Oper (Municipal Opera) in 1925.

Deutsches Opernhaus, 1912
With the Nazi Machtergreifung in 1933, the opera was under control of the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. Minister Joseph Goebbels had the name changed back to Deutsches Opernhaus, competing with the Berlin State Opera in Mitte controlled by his rival, the Prussian minister-president Hermann Göring. In 1935, the building was remodeled by Paul Baumgarten and the seating reduced from 2300 to 2098. Carl Ebert, the pre-World War II general manager, chose to emigrate from Germany rather than endorse the Nazi view of music, and went on to co-found the Glyndebourne opera festival in England. He was replaced by Max von Schillings, who acceded to enact works of "unalloyed German character". Several artists, like the conductor Fritz Stiedry or the singer Alexander Kipnis followed Ebert into emigration. The opera house was destroyed by a RAF air raid on 23 November 1943. Performances continued at the Admiralspalast in Mitte until 1945. Ebert returned as general manager after the war.

After the war, the company in what was now West Berlin used the nearby building of the Theater des Westens until the opera house was rebuilt. The sober design by Fritz Bornemann was completed on 24 September 1961. The opening production was Mozart's Don Giovanni. The new building opened with the current name.

© Günter Karl Bose
© © Günter Karl Bose
© Bettina Stöß
© © Bettina Stöß
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