Zubin Mehta seems to be making a habit of teaming up with Chinese film directors to stage Turandot. This time the director is Chen Kaige (Farewell My Concubine) and he chose Liu King and Chen Tong Xun to do the sets and costumes. The production in question took place at Valencia’s I Festival del Mediterrani in 2008. It’s actually in an opera house rather than on location in the Forbidden City but this production ends up having a rather similar look and feel to Zhang Yimou’s earlier one.
This 2000 La Scala recording of Puccini’s Tosca is straightforward and rather good. It’s a revival of Luca Ronconi’s 1996 production which I’m somewhat astonished to read was regarded as controversial. Sure, the sets are sort of fractured and feature some weird angles but everything else seems to be “by the book” down to the smallest details like the candlesticks and cross. Regietheatre this isn’t. In this performance the acting is OK, if tending to the “stand and wave your arms about” default Italian mode. The stand out exception is Leo Nucci’s Scarpia. He doesn’t have the physical presence to be brutal in the way that, say, Bryn Terfel can be but he manages to project a very nasty securocrat indeed. This is a Scarpia who would be good at making Powerpoint presentations to his bosses detailing how many women and children his unmanned drones had killed today.