OA_Turandot_editorialBig ideas. Bold themes. Beautiful singing. Graeme Murphy’s grand vision of imperial Peking is back, with American soprano Lise Lindstrom heading an international cast for Puccini’s late, great masterpiece, Turandot at the Sydney Opera House from 24 June 2015.

Puccini’s Turandot is a fantasy opera of poetry and myth, set in an exotic world where fear and love go hand in hand and death is always just around the corner. When Pavarotti sang out the top B in Nessum Dorma across a huge crowd at the 1990 FIFA world cup, the world collectively held its breath. A generation of football fans were learning what opera was all about – music that can transport you to another world, another place, a place where emotion wells up inside you at the sound of a single note.

It is unlikely that many of the millions of people who watched that broadcast were prepared for the power of the human voice in full flight. Even fewer would have seen Turandot – an opera about a brutal princess and an impossibly brave suitor who will make any sacrifice to win her love. No-one would have guessed that football would transform a well-known operatic tenor showpiece into a global phenomenon.

Turandot is Giacomo Puccini’s final opera. It was written in the early 1920s, and was almost complete when Puccini was diagnosed with throat cancer. He died on 29 November 1924, leaving 36 pages of sketches for the final scene (completed by one of his students). At the premiere in 1926 conductor Arturo Toscanini is reported to have laid down his baton in the middle of Act III, announcing “Here the maestro died”.

Graeme Murphy’s production of Turandot was last seen in Sydney in 2012 and Christian Badea returns to Australia to conduct following his success with Otello in 2014. After astounding audiences in 2013’s Tosca, New York based Yonghoon Lee sings the role of Calàf with Lise Lindstrom, lauded as the most famous Turandot of our time as the icy, brutal princess.

Murphy’s production includes his own choreographic chorus moves, sculptural stagecraft and larger than life costumes. This production, which is now considered a classic in the Opera Australia repertoire, was like nothing ever seen before when it first came to the Sydney Opera House in 1991. The bold vision of director Graeme Murphy and designer Kristian Fredrikson transformed an already powerful drama into a spectacular piece of theatre.

Joan Sutherland Theatre – Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point, Sydney
Season: 24 June – 28 August 2015
Bookings: (02) 9318 8200 www.opera.org.au

For more information, visit: www.opera.org.au for details.

Image: courtesy of Opera Australia