My mother's favorite Puccini
Robin Wolfson | Cameron Park, CA USA | 11/17/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although "Turandot" was always my mother's favorite Puccini opera and, as a result, I grew up listening to it, I never quite understood it as I understood the other "simpler" works like Butterfly and Tosca (my personal favorite). But when I saw "The Turandot Project" on the Sundance channel this morning, all of a sudden everything became clear and I rushed to the computer to find the DVD.While the production itself is spectacular (300 extras, 50 ballet dancers, a contortionist from the Beijing Opera, and 300 soldiers from the local Chinese Army garrison), the documentary of what was involved in making the production actually happen is fascinating. I counted at least four languages (English, Italian, and Mandarin for most, but let's not forget the Viennese sound director with his own Mandarin/German translator) and a nearly unlimited number of egos. At the end of the documentary, while we hear Puccini's gorgeous music, the film cuts between the the actual production and the earlier shots of the various problems and rehearsals. I swear, watching that, I got actual goosebumps.In all, the production is the culmination of an astonishing effort dedicated towards one goal: the production of Puccini's masterpiece in its perfect setting, the Forbidden City. The production is a triumph of human dedication and cooperation and makes you think that maybe, in the end, there's hope for us all."
Interesting Topic, Dull Documentary
GLBT | Illinois | 06/10/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"There are so many facets to the events being described here that it's almost incredible how dull this documentary is. While they mention in passing that there are tensions between the Chinese government and the director of the opera, we never see any of that play out and it's never mentioned again. Similarly, we're told that this is a huge cultural event for China, to have such a lavish production of Turandot performed in Beijing, but we don't really see that reaction, aside from two or three very brief comments near the end. Then there are the tensions amongst the people putting the production together. Again, these are casually brought up, but there's no follow-through. Instead of following any of these potentially fascinating threads, the makers of the documentary instead show us footage of people walking through China, an opera singer complaining to someone we've never seen before that the hat she's supposed to wear looks stupid, etc. The whole documentary seems to lack any kind of focus. Several weeks ago, I saw "Moon Over Broadway" which is a documentary about the making of a musical (starring Carol Burnett). While the staging of an opera in Beijing is much more potentially interesting to me than a musical with Carol Burnett, "Moon Over Broadway" was a far more successful documentary than "Turandot Project" because it actually managed to get behind the scenes and to develop some of its ideas. There was an actual story taking place and we got to know several of the people involved in the production and we were able to experience their frustrations and conflicts. By the end of "Turandot Project," by way of contrast, I felt like I had nothing invested in any of the people involved and had no real sense of who they were or why they were there or why this was important."Turandot Project" isn't really worth your time unless you're a huge opera fan and willing to sit through a lot of pointless footage that's been slapped together at random."
Multicultural music project management
georgeeros | Seattle, WA United States | 11/12/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Memorial of a historical musical event.
The tremendous challenge of getting Chinese,Italians and experts from other nationalities to come together in understanding to create a spectacular version of Turandot with authentic Ming dynasty costumes, scenery in an ancient Peking theatre is portrayed in an exciting way by the same director who won an Oscar for "From Mao to Mozart" with Isaac Stern in 1979.The Italian choirmembers stop singing when the clock strikes 5 (union rules). The Chinese director is worried that the Chinese stagehands (who have had no exposure to western opera) will make a mistake in moving the complicated set and make China look bad in the eyes of the world.The costumes are fantastic, the singing and acting great (The suicide scene of Christina Gallardo as Liu was brilliant.)But most interesting of all are the transcultural communication issues. Recommended viewing for project managers, in whatever branch."