Colors Dazzle As Production Leaves Vivid Impression
Scott Holmes | Wilmette, IL United States | 06/16/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When this production premiered in Chicago in 1991 it was bound to be compared with the lavish production at the MET. However since Mr. Hockney's sets and costumes will always fail in comparison, it is best to judge this production on its own merits, and there are many. The colors are vivid (especially on this recently released DVD), and the images are crystal clear. You have the choice of 5.1 Surround or 2.0 Stereo. Hockney sticks with various shades of reds, greens and blues. He goes more for a storybook look than for any sort of realism but since Turandot IS essentially a fairy-tale, there's nothing wrong with that. This performance was recorded in late 1993 and Miss Marton is not in as fresh voice as she was when the production was new or as she was for the MET telecast in 1987, but the performance is throughly committed and it is to her credit that the her portrayal comes off as well as it does. Rumors are that she and Mr. Sylvester were sick during the run and dubs from many performances were put together to produce this one for video release. Mr. Sylvester does not have the ring or the richness of a Pavarotti or Domingo and there is some provincial Italian in a spot or two, but again, he gives a solid performance that would be sought after in any major opera house today. The surprise is Lucia Mazzaria. She often sounds like a young Mirella Freni in timbre and range and her two arias in the third act are stunning and beautiful examples of true Italian style. Kevin Langan is rock solid in the brief and moving role of Timur and his make-up is expertly done to make this relatively young man look ancient and frail. The chorus is acceptable and for the most part accurate, but lacking in dark, rich, Italian color and nuance. The staging will leave anyone who hasn't seen the Zeffirelli production impressed. Colorful acrobats, ancients, palace guards, shaved monks (adult and children), and condemned princes all leap off the sceen at you. Chances are your television has never looked better! This video is highly recommended, especially for someone who is first encountering Turandot. Save the Zeffirelli DVD (unfortunately only available in Japan at present) for your ultimate viewing pleasure. In this day and age of ghastly, wrongheaded stagings of treasured masterpieces, we should be thankful that TWO such imaginative and vivid productions were committed to video."
A Solid, Middle-of-the Road Production
Lee Gremillion | Minneapolis, MN | 09/22/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This production of Turandot stands squarely in the middle between the Met's Zeffirelli extravaganza and Saltzburg's modernistic, surreal production with the new Berio ending. For about two years, this was the only Turandot available on DVD, but the availability of the Met and Saltzburg versions now doesn't render this one obsolete. It's what you would see in a good regional production, and there's a lot to be said for those values. The primario members of the cast are solid -- Eva Marton, while less lovely than she appeared on the Met DVD (what a difference a few years of aging can make) still sings masterfully. Michael Sylvester and Lucia Mazzaria are adequate if not inspiring as Calaf and Liu. Kevin Langam, on the other hand, is a wonderful Timur, eclipsing the more famous Met and Saltzburg performers, Paul Plishka and Paata Burcheladze.This production shines in several details. Ping, Pang, and Pong, led by Craig Estep's marvelous Ping, come closer to my ideal for the three ministers than do either of the other two productions. And the San Francisco sets ands costumes, which represent a stylized ancient China, work quite well. Often their austere stylization works more effectively than does the Met's ostentatious, sometimes over-busy, pseudo-realism.The bottom line: Turandot is so rich that having many different conceptualizations is wonderful. If you love this opera, you should buy them all and revel in observing the differences."
Among the Greatest Production Designs in the HIstory of Oper
Lawrence B. Solum | 09/17/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD captures a truly excellent performance of Puccini's most ambitious and musical complex opera. But the true importance of this DVD is that it captures David Hockney's amazing sets--among the most original and important in the history of Opera. I have seen the Hockney sets in live productions on three occasions--most recently opening night in the Chicago revival of 2006. Hockney's painterly sets are filled with bold, emotionally resonant, colors--deep reds shading into violet combine with strong vivid blues. The result is something that is truly rare--a production where the sets add as much emotional content to the opera as the singing. I like to think of the Hockney production a painting with music and sung commentary. (A word of caution: if you dislike contemporary visual art or insist on "realistic" sets, this production is not for you.)"