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The Sunday Opera: Giacomo Puccini's "Turandot" from the Lyric Opera of Chicago

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There are many unusual relationships in opera, and one of them will airing on this week’s Sunday Opera (6/28 3:00 p.m.) with Giacomo Puccini’s “Turandot” from the Lyric Opera of Chicago.  Although unfinished at the time of his death, some believe that he simply abandoned the project when he realized he couldn’t make the relationship between Calaf and Turandot come to a logical conclusion.  Theirs seems to be a relationship based on Calaf’s lust for Turandot, and her loathing for him simply would not be changed after one kiss.  Although a problematic opera, it has still been popular since its premier in 1926, two years after Puccini’s death.  

Amber Riley is the problematic princess Turandot, who is fixated on the trials of her ancestor from a thousand years before, requires any suitor to answer three riddles correctly or be beheaded.   After seeing her just once, deposed prince Calaf (Stefano La Colla) becomes obsessed with Turandot and decides to test his fate.  With him are his blind father, Timur (Andrea Silvestrelli) and the palace servant Liu (Maria Agresta) who is taking care of him; both are trying to dissuade Calaf from what they feel is certain death.    Also trying to dissuade him are three court officials, Ping, Pang, and Pong (Zachary Nelson, Rodell Rosel, and Keith Jameson), who also offer ironic commentary on the proceedings.  The conductor for the performance is Sir Andrew Davis.  

We’ll finish the afternoon with a look at the Asian influence in Western classical music through pieces by Sir Arthur Sullivan, Alan Hovhaness, Albert Ketelbey, and Henry Cowell as well as works by Alexander Gazunov and Joe Hisaishi.

Michael is program host and host of the WWFM Sunday Opera, Sundays at 3 pm, and co-host of The Dress Circle, Sundays at 7 pm.