Turandot is based on an ancient fable, originating in Persia and set in China. It tells of a princess so desirable that men came by the hundreds, from all over the world, and queued up to vie for her love. There was a catch, of course. To have any shot at all with Turandot, a suitor first had to answer three vexing riddles — and anyone who failed wound up with his head on a stake, as a warning to all the suitors still standing in line.
The opera tells us about the one fellow who did solve the riddles. But winning the heart of Turandot turns out to take more than just three clever answers. In telling the colorful story, Puccini created an opera that's simultaneously extravagant, exotic, musically powerful and dramatically "over the top." (NPR.org)
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