One week ago, on the train, I heard young passengers talk about something and one of them sang quietly: “Olà, Pang! Olà, Pong!”…the part of Puccini’s “Turandot” .
I love Opera. Especially Italian’s. And Puccini’s were good for me, as a beginner as an opera listener. Because his melodies are very impressive and easy to remember.
Next day I listen to “Turandot” after a long time. Then found something…
It was like something in me. But before telling it… do you know the story of the opera?
I know! It was old time in China. The princess Turandot made rules that someone who wanted to marry her must be descended from royal family and must solve three riddles she asked.
Exactly! If he could solve, he could marry her. But if he failed in solving…
He would be killed!
Yes… The prince of Persia was killed in act 1… But another prince who lost his kingdom challenged the riddles. He has old father Timur, the deposed king of Tartary, and his slave girl, Liu. They made effort to stop him being afraid he would be killed, but he challenged…
Year. They were pitiful… especially Liu. She loved the prince. I think she followed and cared old Timur for his son… But young prince wasn’t afraid death… What do you think about his decision?
At this time, I can understand him. I think he could not endure wretched situation and rather wanted to die. Besides, it was possible to success to solve the riddles. He might become the princess’ husband of great empire!
He said he fell in love with princess Turandot, didn’t he?
Ah, he said so, I remember… maybe it was possible… But I couldn’t understand such kind of love. Falling in at one sight, even never communicated yet… frequent case in opera, though… In Mozart’s “The Magic Flute”, Tamino fell in love with Pamina’s portrait! …Teenager’s love, isn’t it?
They were teenagers, I think…though singers may be elder. Anyway, the prince finally solved the riddles. But Turandot refused to marry him. So he asked her one riddle: “What is my name?” He declared he would die if she could solve, and if she couldn’t, she must marry him.
That’s the beginning of tragedy… I think he just wanted to show his braveness and tolerance to her. He never believed she could solve. According to famous area “Nessun dorma”, no one can sleep.
But people threatened to be killed if they couldn’t find his name, caught Timur and Liu. Turandot tortured Timur, then Liu. Liu committed suicide to keep the secret.
The most sad part! Timur groaned in sadness and left with the dead body of Liu. And Puccini himself died after composed this part, the death of Liu. Remained part was composed by Franco Alfano, his friend composer.
In remained part, Turandot became aware of love by his kiss… and Liu’s word, I think… and the prince told her his name, Calaf. She declared in front of the emperor, her father, and the crowds, that she solved the riddle, found his name…which was “Love”. Wow!
Wow! …Where Timur had gone?
Prince Calaf sacrificed the girl who loved him, abandoned his father… Do real Chinese people can accept him as a hero?
I couldn’t, at least…But I cannot deny that the opera itself is very attractive!
True… Chinese style melodies are really impressive! It has also charming comical part of the emperor’s men Ping, Pong, and Pang. I love their part.
The very part I heard on the train.
So… What did you find listening the opera after a long time?
It was about Turandot herself. I thought I could understand her a little. I will tell you about it next time!