Puccini's 'Turandot' closes Toledo Opera season

Courtesy of The Blade - Published Thursday, May 3, 2012
by Sally Valongo

The Toledo Opera will conclude its 2011-2012 production season with Puccini's China-inspired opera, Turandot, in a single, semi-staged performance at 8 p.m. May 11 in the Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle.

Conducted by Stefan Sanderling and staged by Mark Verzatt, the production will bring together a mix of familiar and new vocal talent, with the Toledo Opera Chorus, Toledo Children's Chorus, and Toledo Symphony performing the lush and melodious score.

While real life-and-death drama surrounding escaped dissident Chen Guangcheng goes on in Beijing this week, the opera cast will bring to life an old Chinese story of a recalcitrant princess and a savvy mysterious prince, set in ancient Peking.

Turandot's unanswerable riddles have warded off many suitors, who pay for their ignorance with their heads. With each beheading, the spinster princess withdraws further from the love she desperately desires. Yet when Calaf answers the riddles, she reneges on her promise until the mysterious prince challenges her to a riddle of her own.

As the princess ponders the potential outcome and her future, Calaf sings the signature aria for this dramatic, Asian-influenced score, "Nessun Dorma."

Portraying Princess Turandot will be Toledo newcomer Amy Louise Yekel, a dramatic soprano with national performing experience, who is in doctoral studies at Arizona State University.

As Calaf, the enterprising prince who outwits Turandot, tenor Adam Laurence Herskowitz also will make his Toledo debut. Recently switched from baritone to tenor, Herskowitz is on the Metropolitan Opera roles and will perform Calaf with the Minnesota Opera this year. He has a master's degree from Manhattan School of Music.

Stephen West will portray Timur, Calaf's father, a political refugee. West, a baritone now on the University of Michigan faculty, has sung widely internationally and from coast to coast in the United States.

Soprano Jenny Cresswell will sing the role of Liu, Timur's servant, who gives her life to protect Calaf. She has appeared with the Toledo Opera and Toledo Symphony and is a radio host for WGTE-FM91.

Three distinguished singers will bring to life the bureaucrats Ping, Pang, and Pong: Jeremy Kelly, Martin Coyle, and Vale Rideout. Bass Timothy Bruno, currently in the cast of Toledo Opera on Wheels, will portray a Mandarin official and Brad Cresswell, program director of WGTE-FM91 will cover two roles: the Emperor Altoum and Prince of Persia.

Tickets are $25-$65 at 419-255-7464 or www.toledoopera.org.

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