David Hockney’s stunning production of Puccini’s “Turandot” first blazed an unparalleled trail of vivid and glorious color at the Civic Opera House in 1992, returned for an even more striking revival in 1997, and opened the current season but is back better on virtually every level with some major cast changes. Soprano Andrea Gruber is more sure of herself in the role of the ice princess and has a more vocally pleasing suitor in South African tenor Johan Botha, but the biggest change is how Sir Andrew Davis’ baton emphasizes the tension of the drama with faster tempos and more precise rhythms. If some of the lyricism that Lyric music director emeritus Bruno Bartoletti brought to the production is missed, the brisker pace and spicier dissonances more than compensate. Even departing chorus director Donald Palumbo’s chorus is tighter and more nuanced than ever, a fitting farewell tribute to the wonders he has wrought here over his glorious tenure here as he departs for the Met next season. And of course, all of those Hockney-designed costumes and sets that create a fairy-tale China never seizes to amaze, including a sunrise finale so ablaze with dazzling reds—reportedly over 800 separate red gels are used to achieve the effect—that the stage appears to be glowing under its own power. (Dennis Polkow)
This production is now closed.