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More Joy in an Untouched Zeffirelli Production at the Met

New York
Metropolitan Opera
09/23/2015 -  & September 26, 29, October 3, 22, 26, 30, November 3, 7, 12, 2015, January 11, 15, 18, 22*, 26, 30, 2016
Giacomo Puccini: Turandot
Nina Stemme (Turandot), Leah Crocetto (Liù), Marco Berti (Calaf), Alexander Tsymbalyuk (Timur), Ronald Naldi (Emperor Altoum), Dwayne Croft (Ping), Tony Stevenson (Pang), Eduardo Valdes (Pong), David Crawford (Mandarin)
The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus, Paolo Carignani (conductor)
Franco Zeffirelli (production and sets), Anna Anni and Dada Saligeri (costumes), Gil Wechsler (lights), Chiang Ching (choreographer)

N. Stemme, M. Berti (© Marty Sohl)

The grand news of the revival of Franco Zeffirelli’s lavish Turandot earlier this season was the title role debut of the rising star Christine Goerke. But as the run continues into the new year, Puccini fans have every bit as much reason to rejoice in Nina Stemme’s assumption of the part. Known for her searing Wagner and Strauss heroines (Stemme will sing the title role in the Met’s new production of Elektra in April), she brought a rare intensity to the bloodthirsty ice princess melted at last by the love of her Calaf. The irresistible comparison to Goerke reveals two excellent approaches, though Stemme’s crystaline coolness might have an edge over Goerke’s sharper ascents. Likewise, Marco Berti’s beefier tenor seemed to equal in its own way Marcelo Alvarez’s more lyrical singing in the tenor role earlier in the season. Berti’s "Nessun dorma" emerged more beautifully, however, and his ardor was perhaps greater.

The evening saw the birth of another star in the role of Calaf’s own admirer Liù, now sung by the exquisitely plaintive American soprano Leah Crocetto. Lithe tones filled the air as she communicated the character’s passion subdued by a purring modesty. Alexander Tsymbalyuk overcame his youth to portray a respectable old Timur. Maestro Paolo Carignani returned once again to command a rousing performance from orchestra and chorus.

Zeffirelli’s production retains it magic as a Met crowd pleaser. The gasps and applause in the Act II transition scene from Ping, Pang, and Pong’s quarters to the vast imperial palace alone prove that this is a house favorite worth preserving.

Paul du Quenoy



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