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Another soprano encased in her frock is Nina Stemme in the title role of Puccini’s Turandot at La Scala. In this case, her costume is a black carapace, enclosing and shielding her from the world she dominates. Nikolaus Lehnhoff’s production emphasises the mysterious Peking into which Calaf stumbles, the chorus masked, the backdrop austere, no clues available. So the emphasis is on Turandot’s psychology as she interacts with Calaf and Liù, and Stemme makes a great impression as she uses not just her face but her whole body to display her shifting and emotions. Her voice is stentorian, generally thrilling, though the top C doesn’t quite have the laser-like quality one would like. Aleksandrs Antonenko matches her decibel for decibel as Calaf. Maria Agresta’s Liù is good if not outstanding, and Alexander Tsymbalyuk is a luxurious Timur. Riccardo Chailly’s conducting is beautifully paced, and balances the score’s glittering flashes against its monumental wall of sound: of particular interest is the 2001 Berio ending, more nuanced than the usual Alfano. The orchestra is excellent, the chorus superb, and the inventive filming (Patrizia Carmine) adds to the excitement.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica


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