Worldwide reviews for a worldwide audience
A TOWERING ARTISTIC ACHIEVEMENT
THE KIROV OPERA
& ORCHESTRA OF THE MARIINSKY THEATRE
OPERA HOUSE, THE KENNEDY CENTER
FEBRUARY 19, 2006
there to do but sit and be awed by the spectacle and take it all in? These moments are rare. When the applause did come at the end, it was heartfelt and thunderous.
Indeed, the spectacle and brilliance of this production, under the stage direction of Charles Roubaud, and musical direction of Valery Gergiev, surfaced again and again, not from scene to scene but from moment to moment, until the production simply flooded the senses with the kind of fluid synergy of disparate components that sends one’s consciousness into hyper-overdrive and one’s inclination to criticize into a deep slumber.
Every element of this “Turandot” was inextricably intertwined with the next, so that music, mood, costumes, movement, color, lighting, singing (individually and chorally) – all interacted at every moment to create a perfect whole. There was never a loose or lost moment; never a member of the sizeable chorus (Chorus Master, Andrei Petrenko) out of place or standing about looking lost, never a backdrop that wasn’t situated perfectly or used adeptly to add fluidity to a scene, never a lost opportunity to exploit glorious color – and there was plenty of it here, in the scenery (Isabella Partiot-Pieri), costumes (Katia Duglot) and the lighting (Vladimir Lukasevich); never a missed chance to use staging innovatively; never a chance to wring every emotion from singers who were taxed by Puccini’s demanding score, but who delivered their roles flawlessly, nonetheless; and never a moment when the orchestra (some 80 pieces) didn’t achieve orchestral Nirvana with a performance that was astounding in its depth, force and beautiful shading throughout. Magnificent!
The romantic story of “Turandot”, the Princess daughter of an emperor who decrees that any man wishing to marry his daughter must answer three riddles posed by Turandot herself, and failing in any one answer must suffer execution by beheading, tests only the most daring of men – all of who are unsuccessful until the mysterious Prince Calàf, sung by Vladimir Galuzin, comes along with his father, the exiled King of Tartary, Timur, sung this performance by Gennady Bezzubenkov, and Timur’s servant girl, Liù, (sung by Irma Gigolashvili). Liù secretly loves the Calàf but ultimately sacrifices her own life when she refuses to give up his name to the Princess, who will be bound to marry him unless she solves the riddle posed by the mysterious Calàf to her – what is his name?
It’s a powerful story. And while some think Calàf is as cold as Puccini’s thoughtless Pinkerton, in this production he was a good match to the cold, indifferent Turandot, and even came off as somewhat of a romantic hero, willing to give up his own life for the woman he sought.
While there were plenty of fine performances, three stood out, as they were scored: Soprano Irina Gordei’s, Brunhildian-like Turandot, whom the program notes describe as “a man-hating sadist”, gave an explosive vocal performance marked by its strength and textured delivery, matched on all points by a statuesque stage presence that was regal in the way of any Princess.
Vladimir Galuzin’s, Prince Calàf, was delivered with equal doses of astonishing vocal resonance and stamina, mixed with solid acting and commanding stage presence. Like so much else in this production, when you combine these attributes with the total package of operatic theater, where every production need is met and exceeded, you have a sure winner. And this was a sure winner.
Irma Gigolashvili, singing the role of Liù, the servant girl, gave to her character a wonderful, sensitive and vocally alluring interpretation that wrung every emotion it could from the audience that was held willing captive when she sang her final aria on her way to suicide. Beautifully done!
The Kirov will be staging this gloriously colorful and dynamic production only two more times at the Center: February 23rd and 25th. It’s an event worth seeing. It is certainly one that wil be long-remembered.
Conductor, Valery Gergiev
Stage Director, Chares Roubaud
Set Design, Isabelle Partiot-Pieri
Lighting Designer, Vladimir Lukasevich
Principal Chorus Master, Andrei, Petrenko
Reviewed By: Paul Joseph Walkowski
The Kirov Opera & Orchestra achieved something few companies can pull off easily, and none would even intentionally dare: it silenced the full house that came to see Puccini’s last opera “Turandot” at the Kennedy Center, Sunday afternoon, February 19, 2006. It did so with a performance that was so towering in its artistic achievement that any other response would have been down right irreverent. Okay, the audience couldn’t resist a few interruptions, such as Vladimir Galuzin’s impressive “Nessun dorma”, but when you are confronted with a total performance that borders on operatic excellence, what else is