I can’t say that the Royal Opera’s latest revival of the thirty-year old Andrei Serban production of Turandot thrilled me as much as I expected it to. The central performance was as vivid and thrilling as I can imagine the role being performed, but somehow what surrounded it didn’t quite cohere.
Partly, I think I’ve developed some resistance to the production, with its tiered sets, crowded with the citizens of Peking, its grotesque orient-inspired masks of Turandot’s victims, and its exaggerated Chinese dancing, movement and costumes. It seems to be too unquestioning of the rather overblown chinoiserie of Puccini’s inter-war vision of the Far East. As the visuals combine with Puccini’s score the fragrance becomes a bit overpowering. (more…)