[Met Performance] CID:216010

Metropolitan Opera House, Tue, September 17, 1968

Turandot (89)
Giacomo Puccini | Giuseppe Adami/Renato Simoni
Birgit Nilsson

Sándor Kónya

Gabriella Tucci

Raymond Michalski

Frank Guarrera

Andrea Velis

Charles Anthony

Emperor Altoum
Mariano Caruso

Robert Goodloe

Prince of Persia
Edilio Ferraro

Lance Westergard

Lawrence Eddington

Harry Jones

Phillip Rice

Donald Mahler

Howard Sayette

Zubin Mehta

Yoshio Aoyama

Nathaniel Merrill

Cecil Beaton

Mattlyn Gavers

Turandot received fifteen performances this season.

Review 1:

Harold C. Schonberg in The New York Times
Opera: Nilsson and Konya Head “Turandot” at Met
Season’s 2nd Program Is Conducted by Mehta Gabriella Tucci Sings Liu With Charm

Normally, Puccini's "Turandot” at the Metropolitan Opera has Birgit Nilsson and Franco Corelli as the two leading singers. But Mr. Corelli was otherwise occupied at the open*ing o. Monday night, and therefore last night saw Sandor Konya in the role of Calaf. Miss Nilsson, of course, sang the title role. A performance of this opera these days would be inconceivable without her.

She continues to improve. Miss Nilsson is a very canny artist. She not only has the most stupendous voice of any living soprano, she also works hard to add new dimensions to her characterization. Not naturally the most gifted of actresses, she has the sense to concentrate on a kind of movement and drama that is exactly within her capabilities. As the Princess Turandot, she moves very little, standing in a statuesque manner, letting a few gestures and facial expression convey what she desires.

But those gestures and expressions are convincing and even striking, suggesting the power and remoteness of the Princess, her arrogance, her disdain. And then at the end of Act II, broken in spirit, she still manages to get her point across without lurching all over the stage. Always a commanding singer, she is now a commanding artist.

She disappointed nobody in the big "In questa reggie,”soaring over chorus, orchestra and, alas, even Mr. Konya. He was in good voice last night, and he is a most reliable tenor — strong, clear-voiced, intelligent. Had Zubin Mehta, the conductor of the evening held the ensemble back a bit, Mr. Konya would have been more evenly matched. As it was. He bravely tackled his demanding part, and he sang a very beautiful “Nessun dorma.”

Then there was Gabriella Tucci as Liu. She has but two arias in this opera, and she made the most of them. Has the first-act "Signore, ascolta" been sung more touchingly, more artistically, more elegantly in recent years? One doubts it. And her death scene was on an equally high level. The part lies perfectly for her voice, just as there is something in the character of Liu that seems to unleash all of Miss Tucci's femininity.

Frank Guarrera, Andrea Vellis (he for the first time) and. Charles Anthony were the Ping, Pang, Pong trio. Puccini has given them some of his most wonderful music. Unfortunately the normally reliable Nathaniel Merrill has given them some stage business right out of "The Mikado." It would do no harm to the production to tone down some of their operetta Orientalisms. Otherwise the production of "Turandot" remains handsome and effective, one of the best things the Metropolitan Opera has brought forth in the last decade.

Mr. Mehta by now has the opera well in hand. He never has been a singer's dream conductor. No conductor so interested in the orchestra ever can be. But his tempos were well chosen, his rhythms steady, his feeling for color far above the ordinary. He has a tendency to overpower singers, and can give them a hard time. With all that, however, there is real vitality to his work, real temperament, real propulsion. Physiognomical note: Mr. Mehta now wears a mustache.

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