Monday, April 16, 2007
Turandot has never been my favorite opera, and Franco Zeffirelli's colossal production has never been my favorite either. It is visually stunning, but the dwarfing sets and enormous chorus pull focus away from the already thin story and less than pleasing music. This is an opera that always seems to come off as static unless there are captivating performers in the lead roles, and neither of this evening's singers delivered the goods. In the title role, Andrea Gruber was all over the place. She sang broadly and was able to fill the house with her sound, but she was really straining herself. What started out as a promising interpretation quickly became stagnant. Add Richard Margison's serviceable but bland Calaf (his "Nessun dorma" is the weakest I've ever heard), and you've got a recipe for disappointment. Only Hei-Kyung Hong's shimmering Liu enthralled; it was her finest performance this season, topping even her stunning Violetta. I cried buckets during her suicide scene, but I cried even more when I realized she would be off-stage for the remainder of the show. Can we please retire this production once and for all?