Turandot as symbolism

Robert Wilson’s take on Turandot is interesting.  It’s symbolic, even ritualistic and it’s perhaps best seen as a performance of a performance.  It’s certainly not in any way naturalistic.  Throughout the characters are “abstracted” by colour scheme in costume and make up and they move in highly stylized patterns.  This is especially apparent in Act 3 where when Liù dies nothing happens.  She just stands in a pose.  She and Timur then walk back and forth across the stage a few times before slowly processing into the wings.  It’s the same with the final scene with Calaf and Turandot.  They never even touch each other which makes Calaf’s rather lurid description of what he’s going to do to Turandot seem even rapier than usual.  The words and the music (the IMHO overblown Alfano completion) seem at odds but maybe make sense in a ritualistic way.  The approach does make for some very striking stage pictures though.

1.goose

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We the sheeple

Calixto Bieito’s production of Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov recorded at the Bayerische Staatsoper in 2013 is, unsurprisingly, strong stuff.  The central concept is that the political classes “don’t give a fig” for ordinary people and that’s as true , or truer, now than in early modern Russia.  In such a world, where the people are manipulated into acting as their “betters” demand, is it possible for a person like Boris, who has risen to supreme power through manipulation and violence, to have a conscience?

1.placards

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