Puccini: Turandot at the Metropolitan Opera (DVD)
Turandot is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini, completed by Franco Alfano, and set to a libretto in Italian by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni.
Though Puccini’s first interest in the subject was based on his reading of Friedrich Schiller’s 1801 adaptation of the play, his work is most nearly based on the earlier text Turandot by Carlo Gozzi. The original story is based on the story of Turan-Dokht (daughter of Turan) from the epic Haft Peykar (The Seven Beauties), work of 12th-century Persian poet Nizami. The opera’s story is set in China and involves Prince Calaf, who falls in love with the cold Princess Turandot. To obtain permission to marry her, a suitor has to solve three riddles; any wrong answer results in death. Calaf passes the test, but Turandot still refuses to marry him. He offers her a way out: if she is able to learn his name before dawn the next day, then at daybreak he will die.
The opera was unfinished at the time of Puccini’s death in 1924, and was completed by Franco Alfano in 1926. The first performance was held at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan on 25 April 1926 and conducted by Arturo Toscanini. This performance included only Puccini’s music and not Alfano’s additions. The first performance of the opera as completed by Alfano was the following night, 26 April, although it is disputed whether this was conducted by Toscanini again or by Ettore Panizza.