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For Immediate Release
From: Toledo Opera
Contact: Loviah Aldinger, Associate Director
People of Peking!
Turandot the pure will marry the one
born of noble blood who solves her three riddles.
But he who tries and fails will pay for his failure
with his noble head!
TOLEDO, OH April 17, 2012 These opening lines set up the dramatic, chilling plot of Giacomo Puccini’s last opera, Turandot, which Toledo Opera will perform on Friday, May 11, 2012 at 8 PM at the Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle Theater. This is opera, so the story is told in music, Puccini’s music, and that means an abundance of glorious arias and duets. A cast of vocal artists, portraying the brave prince, Calāf, the apparently heartless princess, Turandot, and other characters, both royal and not, will be joined by the Toledo Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Stefan Sanderling and both the Toledo Opera Chorus and Children’s Chorus. Marc Verzatt, award-winning director of the Opera’s 50th anniversary production of Candide, returns to Toledo to stage direct this production of Turandot.
The plot. In the opera, based on a Persian fairy tale set in ancient China, young men are literally dying to marry a princess. Time and again, Turandot poses three riddles to her suitors, sentencing them to death if they fail. When Calāf, the Prince of Tartary, sees the icy beauty, he too falls under her spell and risks his life to win her love. Will he suffer the fate of those who went before him or will passion free the frozen heart of a princess?
The music. Turandot is famous for the gorgeous, sweeping melody, sustained high notes and emotional power of Calāf’s tenor aria “Nessun dorma.” Using all the compositional techniques at his disposal, Puccini created the perfect musical atmosphere for the drama. A picture of ancient China is achieved in part through emphasis on bi-tonal dissonances and percussion instruments that add an ‘Oriental’ flavor. Puccini also introduces a number of authentic Chinese folk tunes, including the one associated with Turandot, “Mō lė huā.” Chinese temple music becomes the theme of the Imperial officials, Ping, Pang and Pong. In Turandot, the lyrically expressive yin, typical of other Puccini operas, combines with the atmospheric yang, creating a perfectly balanced work that is one of his grandest masterpieces.
The artists. In the title role will be Amy Louise Yekel. She is pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts in voice performance at Arizona State University and studies with international opera star Jane Eaglen, who calls Ms. Yekel’s dramatic soprano voice “beautiful.” The role of Prince Calāf is being sung by Wagnerian tenor, Adam Laurence Herskowitz. He began singing at the Met in 2010, covering the role of Froh in Wagner’s Das Rheingold and playing the Captain in Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra. In 2012 he will also appear as Calāf with Minnesota Opera. Bass-baritone Stephen West will play Timur, Calāf’s father. A true “singing actor,” West excels in roles such as Mephistopheles in Gounod’s Faust and the repertoire of Wagner. He has sung with major opera houses throughout the world, including for many years at the Met. On a local note, Jennifer Cresswell, last seen as Frasquita in Toledo Opera’s Carmen, and her husband Brad Cresswell, Radio Program Manager for Toledo’s WGTE Public Media, are both appearing in the production.
Tickets for Turandot are on sale now. Tickets are from $25 to $65 and can be purchased by calling the Opera’s Box Office (419-255-7464) or on-line (www.toledoopera.org).
Turandot is made possible in part through support from the Ohio Arts Council.