by Giacomo Puccini

China’s cold-hearted Princess Turandot is not your average royal. Desired by all men and wanting none, she builds a wall of riddles around her heart to keep love away. Challenging every red-blooded suitor to a game of wits, she asks them a series of riddles to win her love… or fail and die. Enter Calàf, who not only solves all three, he proposes his own and puts his life in the hands of the icy princess.

Based on an ancient Chinese fable, Turandot is a masterpiece of romance and spectacle. Puccini saves his most adventurous and uplifting music for this, his last opera, including a massive chorus and the famous aria “Nessun dorma” that has been sung and recorded by great artists from Pavarotti to Aretha Franklin. Starring the world's premiere interpreter of the role of Turandot, Lise Lindstrom.


Act I

Peking, legendary times. In a quarter swarming with people near the Forbidden City, a Mandarin reads an edict: any prince seeking to marry Princess Turandot must answer three riddles - and if he fails, he will die. Her latest suitor, the Prince of Persia, is to be executed at the rise of the moon. Bloodthirsty citizens urge the executioner on, and in the tumult a slave girl, Liù, calls out for help when her aged master is pushed to the ground. A handsome youth recognizes him as his long-lost father, Timur, vanquished king of Tartary. When the old man tells his son, Prince Calàf, that only Liù has remained faithful to him, the youth asks her why. She replies it is because once, long ago, Calàf smiled on her. The mob again cries for blood, but the moon emerges, and all fall into sudden, fearful silence. The doomed suitor passes on the way to execution, moving the onlookers to call upon Turandot to spare his life. Turandot appears and, with a contemptuous gesture, bids the execution proceed. The crowd hears a death cry in the distance. Calàf, smitten with the princess' beauty, determines to win her as his bride, striding to the gong that proclaims the arrival of a new suitor. Turandot's ministers Ping, Pang and Pong try to discourage the youth, their warnings supplemented by the entreaties of Timur and the tearful Liù. Despite their pleas, Calàf strikes the fatal gong and calls out Turandot's name.

Act II

In their quarters, Ping, Pang and Pong lament Turandot's bloody reign, praying that love will conquer her icy heart so peace can return. As the populace gathers to hear Turandot question the new challenger, the ministers are called back to harsh reality.

The aged Emperor Altoum, seated on a high throne in the Imperial Palace, asks Calàf to give up his quest, but in vain. Turandot enters and tells the story of her ancestor Princess Lou-Ling, brutally slain by a conquering prince; in revenge Turandot has turned against all men, determining that none shall ever possess her. She poses her first question: what is born each night and dies each dawn? "Hope," Calàf answers correctly. Unnerved, Turandot continues: what flickers red and warm like a flame, yet is not fire? "Blood," replies Calàf after a moment's pause. Shaken, Turandot delivers her third riddle: what is like ice but burns? A tense silence prevails until Calàf triumphantly cries "Turandot!" While the crowd gives thanks, the princess begs her father not to abandon her to a stranger, but to no avail. Calàf generously offers Turandot a riddle of his own: if she can learn his name by dawn, he will forfeit his life.


In a palace garden, Calàf hears a proclamation: on pain of death, no one in Peking shall sleep until Turandot learns the stranger's name. The prince muses on his impending joy; but Ping, Pang and Pong try unsuccessfully to bribe him to withdraw. As the fearful mob threatens Calàf with drawn daggers to learn his name, soldiers drag in Liù and Timur. Horrified, Calàf tries to convince the mob that neither knows his secret. When Turandot appears, commanding the dazed Timur to speak, Liù cries out that she alone knows the stranger's identity. Though tortured, she remains silent. Impressed by such endurance, Turandot asks Liù's secret; "Love," the girl replies. When the princess signals the soldiers to intensify the torture, Liù snatches a dagger from one of them and kills herself. The grieving Timur and the crowd follow her body as it is carried away. Turandot remains alone to confront Calàf, who at length takes her in his arms, forcing her to kiss him. Knowing physical passion for the first time, Turandot weeps. The prince, now sure of his victory, tells her his name.

As the people hail the emperor, Turandot approaches his throne, announcing that the stranger's name is - Love.

STARS IN THE SALON - Hosted by David Bennett, General Director

Turandot - February 15, 2018 at 5:30pm

Join the stars of Turandot in Stars in the Salon. This is a thrilling experience for anyone who loves opera. We welcome our distinguished guest panels for a provocative look at the music, characters and behind-the-scenes work which is so important to each production. The Civic Theatre’s beautiful Beverly Sills Salon acts as the setting for this enjoyable discussion where audience members have a chance to meet the stars and ask their own questions of the leading singers, conductors and directors first hand! All sessions are open to the public and free of charge.

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Saturday, February 24, 2018 after performance
The US Grant Hotel

Join us immediately following the opening night performance when we’ll journey a few short blocks to The US Grant. We’ll meet the artists from Turandot and enjoy a wine and champagne reception with light hors d’oeuvres and desserts. Post-Opera Cast Party tickets are $100 per person. ADD TO YOUR TICKET ORDER TODAY!

Already have your Turandot tickets? Purchase your cast party tickets here!