HISTORY OF THE WORK

Giacomo Puccini died before Turandot was completed - yet it is undoubtedly one of the most popular and most performed of his works. Turandot is performed regularly all over the world and is particularly suited to large-scale venues such as arenas and open-air stages which accommodate its grandeur and use of vast numbers of performers.

Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924), the last great genius of Italian opera left a legacy which extends from early works like Le Villi and Edgar through the backbone of the verismo repertoire - Manon Lescaut, La Bohème, Tosca, Madame Butterfly, La Fanciulla del West, Il Tabarro, Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicci.

Turandot represents not only his final opera, but can be classified as a work that closes the chapter on a glorious period of melodrama which blossomed in the late 19th century and is now doomed to disappear with the current trend in composition at the end of our own century.

Puccini assimilated the influences of two centuries of European music (in encompassing aspects of Gounod, Massenet, the impressionism of Debussy, the elegant style of Ravel, the visionary tonal colors of Richard Strauss and the expressionism of Schoenberg) and extended the great stage tradition of Verdi which had culminated in Aida, Otello and Falstaff to a new level of dramatic expression.

Furthermore, through his choice of thematic material, and the variety, vitality, and succinctness of his treatment, he brought melodrama to the people. Tragic comedy (La Bohème) realistic drama (Manon Lescaut, Tosca, Il Tabarro), exotic settings (Madama Butterfly, La Fanciulla del West) psychological drama (again Madama Butterfly, Suor Angelica) through light comedy (Gianni Schicci) - all stem from the pen of the musician born in Lucca, Italy, who, with the greatest economy, blended his music with the story to be told. Indeed his intentions can be compared to those of film-making.

Renato Simoni, the librettist, director and theater critic, suggested the fairytale Turandotte (written by the Venetian author Carlo Gozzi in 1762) to Puccini as suitable material for a lyric opera.

The composer agreed enthusiastically, having rejected numerous previous suggestions and in November 1919 Simoni joined forces with Guiseppe Adami (who had already written libretti for two previous Puccini operas) to prepare the new text.

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