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Operatic voices fills the Regent Theatre

PUBLISHED: 22:47 12 November 2001 | UPDATED: 10:49 03 March 2010

Turandot, by Puccini, Opera International, Ipswich Regent



IT gave us Nessun Dorma, the unforgettable sound of the 1990 World Cup and

the aria mostly responsible for making opera fashionable again - so why is Turandot so rarely performed?

Puccini's last work - the last of all the great Italian operas - is full of stirring tunes from start to finish.

Turandot, by Puccini, Opera International, Ipswich Regent

IT gave us Nessun Dorma, the unforgettable sound of the 1990 World Cup and

the aria mostly responsible for making opera fashionable again – so why is Turandot so rarely performed?

Puccini's last work – the last of all the great Italian operas – is full of stirring tunes from start to finish.

Nessun Dorma itself is only one of several wonderful set-pieces, and the quality of the music is more sustained throughout than in the composer's greatest works, Tosca and Madam Butterfly.

The trouble is, rousing music has never been put to the service of such an irritatingly silly story.

The situation is too ridiculous to believe in, the characters too flat, and too stupid, to care about. Which sadly detracts from the emotional intensity of arias that purely as music are among the most beautiful ever written.

Perhaps the answer would be to stage it as a concert rather than trying to present it as opera.

Musically, this Turandot was up to Opera International's usual high standard. Dramatically, they were defeated by the impossible task of trying to make sense of nonsense.

Tenor Akhmed Agadi looks the part of Calaf better than Pavarotti can have done for at least 30 years. His voice, though technically good, is only just up to the task of sustaining such a demanding lead role.

The audience's greatest approval went to soprano Rosa Lee Thomas. She thoroughly deserved it for a stunning performance as the self-sacrificing Liu.

Brilliant music, brilliantly sung – and for a moment there she almost had me caring about the character.

Aidan Semmens.

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