Turandot - Verona Arena 2020

Starting from June 27th, Turandot by Giacomo Puccini will go on stage under the skillful direction of Franco Zeffirelli.

The imposing cinematographic production by Franco Zeffirelli reproduces Imperial China thanks to its impressive scenery and large crowd scenes, and is enriched by the sumptuous costumes by Academy Award winning Japanese costume designer Emi Wada. Everything contributes to highlighting the atmosphere of the drama of enigmas per excellence, where life itself is at risk and the response is in the love that will melt the protagonist’s icy heart. Princess Turandot, who refuses to be seduced by any man, plays with the lives of her suitors, certain that nobody will win her challenge. Only Calaf will manage to really win the heart of Turandot and thus overcome the distance that keeps the princess far from true love.

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ACT I

Turandot is the beautiful, yet cruel, daughter of the Emperor Altoum.

It is dusk in Peking. From the top of a wall of the Imperial Palace a mandarin announces Turandot’s edict to the people. She says she will marry whichever suitor of blue blood manages to solve the three riddles she devises. Those who fail will be decapitated. Like the others who have preceded him, the Prince of Persia has also failed the test and will be executed when the moon rises.

Among the crowd outside the palace, there is an old man who is accompanied by his loyal slave, Liù. He is Timur, ex- king of the Tartars, now in exile and practically blind. In the turmoil he falls to the ground. Liù pleads for help and a young man rushes over to them, pushing his way through the crowd. Lo and behold, it is Prince Calaf, Timur’s son. He, too, has escaped from their homeland and is travelling incognito so as not to arouse suspicion. The two men are overcome at meeting up again after so long. Timur recounts how Liù has helped him during his exile. The prince acknowledges his gratitude and asks her why she has been so dedicated to his father. She replies with disarming sweetness that one day a long time ago, his father had smiled at her and ever since then, she has secretly loved him.

Meanwhile, the crowd sadistically incite the executioner’s men, waiting with growing impatience for the moon to light up the sky, but when the Prince of Persia is finally brought to the scaffold, on seeing how young and handsome he is, their ferocity gives way to pity and they demand he be pardoned. Calaf curses Turandot for her cruelty but his shout quickly dies on his lips as he sees the princess appear on the balcony for a brief moment, time enough to confirm with an imperious gesture the death sentence. Struck by her beauty, he resolves to win her over and sets to work on solving the riddles.

Timur and Liù seek to dissuade him, and even the three Imperial Ministers, Ping, Pang and Pong try everything in their power to make him change his mind. But Calaf is determined. He urges Liù, who desperately tries one last time to convince him to give up, to take good care of his father. Then he spontaneously invokes Turandot’s name three times, striking the gong three times as he does so, thereby announcing his wish to be put to the test.

ACT II

In a pavilion next to the Imperial Palace, Ping, Pang and Pong go over both the marriage and funeral protocols while they wait for the challenge of this unknown prince. Tired of Turandot’s cruelty and of the countless deaths her riddles have caused, the ministers relax and nostalgically recount memories of a happy life in the past and express the desire to return to their homes in the country. The buzz of preparation at the palace quickly brings them back to reality: the ceremony of the riddles, which will probably conclude with the umpteenth death penalty, is about to begin.

In the big courtyard of the palace, the old Emperor is sitting on the throne at the top of a monumental staircase surrounded by his whole court. Three times, in a feeble voice, he asks the unknown prince to renounce the challenge; three times Calaf stubbornly refuses. But then Turandot appears. Beautiful, unperturbed, she explains why she is so fierce and why she hates men. Thousands of years ago, one of her forebears was raped and killed by a foreign king and now, to atone for that crime of long ago, she puts her suitors to this cruel test, certain that none of them will ever have her. One last time she invites the young man to give up, but yet again he refuses and the test goes ahead.

The unknown prince solves the three riddles one after the other, giving the right answers: hope, blood, Turandot. The crowd cheers, acclaiming him the winner. Humiliated, the princess implores her father to save her from the arms of a foreigner whose name she does not even know, but the Emperor reminds her of the sacredness of the edict. At this point it is Calaf who frees her of this constraint on the condition that she also resolve a riddle: before dawn she must find out his name and where he comes from. If she manages, he is prepared to die.

ACT III

It is night. In the palace gardens the voices of the heralds announcing Turandot’s decree can be heard: no one in the city must sleep until the name of the unknown prince has been discovered. Calaf waits fearlessly for dawn to break, sure that his love will win, in the end. The three ministers burst onto the scene and first with promises, but then with threats try to wrench the secret out of him. After his umpteenth refusal, a group of guards bring in Timur and Liù, beaten and bleeding; having seen them in the prince’s company, they suspect they know his name. Before Turandot, Liù declares that she is the only one who knows his name but out of love, she will not divulge it. The princess has her tortured but the slave does not give in. In admiration Turandot asks her where she finds so much strength. Liù replies that it comes from love and adds that soon, she – Turandot – too, will burn with the same flame. Then, afraid of betraying her secret under torture, she takes a dagger and stabs herself. Liù’s death shakes everyone deeply.

Calaf and Turandot remain alone together. Driven by the force of love, he approaches her resolutely. She tries to repel him but he manages to kiss her on her mouth and in so doing, it is as if a spell is broken: Turandot experiences an emotion hitherto unknown to her, a feeling capable of melting her heart of stone. She realizes she has loved him right from the moment she first set eyes on him. Only now does the prince reveal his real name: Calaf, son of Timur, and adds that, if she wishes, she can still send him to his death.

Shortly afterwards, before the Emperor, dignitaries and all the people, Turandot declares that she finally knows the name of the foreigner: his name is Love.

Program and cast

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Verona Arena

The Verona Arena (Arena di Verona) is a Roman amphitheatre in Piazza Bra in Verona, Italy built in 30 AD. It is still in use today and is internationally famous for the large-scale opera performances given there. It is one of the best preserved ancient structures of its kind.

 

Amphitheatre

The building itself was built in AD 30 on a site which was then beyond the city walls. The ludi (shows and games) staged there were so famous that spectators came from many other places, often far away, to witness them. The amphitheatre could host more than 30,000 spectators in ancient times.

The round façade of the building was originally composed of white and pink limestone from Valpolicella, but after a major earthquake in 1117, which almost completely destroyed the structure's outer ring, except for the so-called "ala", the stone was quarried for re-use in other buildings. Nevertheless it impressed medieval visitors to the city, one of whom considered it to have been a labyrinth, without ingress or egress. Ciriaco d'Ancona was filled with admiration for the way it had been built and Giovanni Antonio Panteo's civic panegyric De laudibus veronae, 1483, remarked that it struck the viewer as a construction that was more than human.

 

Musical theatre

 

The first interventions to recover the arena's function as a theatre began during the Renaissance. Some operatic performances were later mounted in the building during the 1850s, owing to its outstanding acoustics.

And in 1913, operatic performances in the arena commenced in earnest due to the zeal and initiative of the Italian operatenor Giovanni Zenatello and the impresario Ottone Rovato. The first 20th-century operatic production at the arena, a staging of Giuseppe Verdi's Aida, took place on 10 August of that year, to mark the birth of Verdi 100 years before in 1813. Musical luminaries such as Puccini and Mascagni were in attendance. Since then, summer seasons of opera have been mounted continually at the arena, except in 1915–18 and 1940–45, when Europe was convulsed in war.

Nowadays, at least four productions (sometimes up to six) are mounted each year between June and August. During the winter months, the local opera and ballet companies perform at the L'Accademia Filarmonica.

Modern-day travellers are advised that admission tickets to sit on the arena's stone steps are much cheaper to buy than tickets giving access to the padded chairs available on lower levels. Candles are distributed to the audience and lit after sunset around the arena.

Every year over 500,000 people see productions of the popular operas in this arena.[3] Once capable of housing 20,000 patrons per performance (now limited to 15,000 because of safety reasons), the arena has featured many of world's most notable opera singers. In the post-World War II era, they have included Giuseppe Di Stefano, Maria Callas, Tito Gobbi and Renata Tebaldi among other names. A number of conductors have appeared there, too. The official arena shop has historical recordings made by some of them available for sale.

The opera productions in the Verona Arena had not used any microphones or loudspeakers until an electronic sound reinforcement system was installed in 2011.

 

How to reach Verona

 

By Car
Verona is easily reached by taking:
- the A4 Motorway SERENISSIMA, Milan-Venice, exit Verona Sud.
- or by taking the A22 Motorway Brennero-Modena, followed by the A4 Motorway Milan-Venice, direction Venice, exit Verona Sud.
Then follow the signs for all directions ('tutte le direzioni) followed by the signs for the city centre. 
Approximative distances from Verona by Motorways:
Vicenza km 51 Venezia km 114 Florence km 230 
Brescia km 68 Bologna km 142 Rome km 600 
Padova km 84 Bolzano km 157 Naples km 800 
Trento km 103 Milan km 161 

By Bus
The city centre is linked to the surrounding towns and villages, as well as Lake Garda, by a public transport bus service (the buses are blue in colour) which can be accessed at the bus station, situated directly opposite the train station (APTV Service). Click here for timetables and routes. 


By Train
The main railway station is VERONA PORTA NUOVA, which is the crossroads of both the Milan - Venice line and the Brennero - Rome line. 
There are direct trains and InterCity trains from all the main railway stations in the north of Italy throughout the day. 
Duration of trip : from Padua 40 minutes; from Vicenza 30 minutes; from Venice 1½ hours; from Milan 2 hours and from Rome 5 hours. 
City buses can be taken from the train station to the city centre and arrive in Piazza Bra, the central square where the Arena Amphitheatre is found. 
The Bus numbers are 11, 12, 13, 14, 72 and 73. 

By Plane
Verona's international Airport Catullo in Villafranca is situated approximately 10 km S-W of the city centre. 
There is a shuttle bus service to and from the airport approximately every 20 minutes from 06.10 to 23.30. 
The airport bus terminal is outside Porta Nuova Railway Station. 
Brescia Montichiari Airport which is situated approximately 52 kilometres from Verona, is also linked to Verona Porta Nuova Train station by a shuttle bus which runs approximately twice a day, in the morning and in the evening. Again the bus terminal is outside Porta Nuova Railway Station. 

 

Parking  - Getting by car and parking next to the Arena
 

From highway A4 or A22 get the exit for Verona Sud.
Follow the signal “tutte le direzioni” (all directions) and then Verona city centre. 

Parking Arena
Via M.Bentegodi,8 - Verona - 37122

Parking Arsenale
Piazza Arsenale,8 - Verona - 37126

Parking Isolo
Via Ponte Pignolo, 6/c - Verona - 37129

Parking Polo Zanotto
Viale Università,4 - Verona - 37129

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