What did you think of Turandot?

Now that you've seen the show, here's your chance to write a review or comment on someone else's.


I liked the purple suit. The

I liked the purple suit. The costume I had trouble with was the black gown at the end. She needed something shiny in that scene. I wish the costumer could have been asked to deal with the Silver issue rather than the makeup/hair people. I think the blonde hair aged her and she looked very old in that scene.

Congratulations to the

Congratulations to the Portland Opera for producing an opera which seems to have succeeded in awaking all the critics in the state. That is a good thing.

For me the settings were splendid, and the concerns that it did not reflect imperial China seem to miss the point that the location in this sordid tale of dual lunacy is not relevant. I like symbolism, and it can be culturally mixed and very creative. I thought the photo idea pretty cool.

Turandot's blue suit costume reflected a cold fascist aesthetic implicit in the utter ruthlessness of her serial executions. It is how I expect a soviet torturess to dress. Brutal utilitarian chic. I certainly don't need my Princesses to be Disney-ed, or my Princes to be clean. In real life Genghis Khan probably did not wash or change clothes more than once a month. And the minimalistic costumes and dance steps of the chorus added a sense of hopelessness experienced by a populace living in daily fear of its rulers.

There is some validity to the observations that their seemed to be little connection between Calaf and anyone on stage. But this is not uncommon in Opera. The examples where there is a strong connection seem to be rare. Too often the singing power and talent of the soloist(s) made up for a lack of acting ability. Unfortunately here this was not the case.

So I say congratulations for taking a huge risk, waking the critics and providing what might become a memorable production.

Great Production!! I for one

Great Production!!

I for one enjoyed Sunday's matinee production. My prior exposure to Turandot was only through recordings; nonetheless I found the Portland Opera production more than satisfying. I especially liked the chorus parts and the orchestral details; these typically don't come across as well in recordings. I was also very impressed with Ping, Pang and Pong, since I had always thought these characters were rather gratuitous on Puccini's part. In this production there was a lot more depth to these characters than I was expecting. Overall I thought this production did a good job of conveying the drama; especially the conflicting message of Love in a story of extreme cruelty.

In sum, I came in thinking Turandot=Nessum dorma and came away with a much deeper appreciation of the opera.

My goodness,I am certainly

My goodness,I am certainly glad I am not an opera artist! I would hate to be the recipient of all these unhappy comments. (Which does not mean they are not valid opinions. Everyone has the right to their opinions!)
My opinion as someone fairly new to the world of opera is...I was fascinted by the entire production. Did not like the Princess in modern clothes. How, I thought, would a Prince watch his father die and a devoted slave killed for a Princess dressed like that! Ok Ok very surface I admit. I had no sympathy for those 2 'lovers' at all. I was not convinced!
Did like the set - loved P P and P - and Lui.
I also wonder how this opera survived all this time with such a story! Even I felt the disconnect in the ending - and was fascinated to read about Puccini dying before it was finished.

I will be back to the Portland Opera for sure. To learn more to experience more to hear more. Would I see Turandot again anywhere? Probably not as I do not like the story!!

There have now been almost 30

There have now been almost 30 patron "reviews", almost unanimously negative. My question: Is someone from Portland Opera monitoring these comments? May we hear from someone in management (Chris M., are you there?).

We're definitely here! And

We're definitely here! And we definitely appreciate the many patrons who have taken their valuable time to leave comments. However, we designed this section of the website as an arena for patrons, a place to give them the stage, as it were. As such, it is a place for us to respect the voices of the commentators and to listen carefully to what they have to say.

Patrons wishing to share their views and get immediate feedback are always welcome at our "Backtalk" sessions immediately following each performance. At these free sessions on the orchestra level directly in front of the orchestra pit, General Director Christopher Mattaliano fields any and all reactions to the performance that patrons have just experienced. In addition, he often brings with him stage directors or performers. Everyone is welcome.

In the meantime, we thank everyone for participating in this new section of our website, and we assure one and all that we are here and that we are listening.

Jim Fullan
Director of Communications and Marketing

Turandot, as presented by the

Turandot, as presented by the Portland Opera is a great opera for RADIO. The cut-out of the grain silo, the harsh lighting and the stage direction were terrible choices. Grazia Doronzio as Liu and the trio of Ping, Pang and Pong were standouts, and were very poorly shown in the direction. A middle-aged woman in a wig and obviously wearing high heels for the first time does not a princess make. She was a good match, however, for the roly poly, scruffy looking prince wrapped up in a vinyl raincoat [What was that supposed to represent?] who had trouble singing standing up or moving. I agree with those who said Puccini must be spinning in his grave. The beautiful music so ably directed by Leonardo Vordoni was transporting, as long as my eyes were closed. I wonder how many first-time opera attendees must now be considering never coming back.

ElizabethAmbroziak's picture

Puccini has GOT to be rolling

Puccini has GOT to be rolling over in his grave!
My Mama and I both kept looking at one another during the Portland, OR 2/6/11 matinee performance with the same question in our eyes - "What the heck?" (Well, I must admit I substitute-thought another word for heck.)
What in the world was Christopher Alden thinking???
Even my 73 year old Mama wondered if Chris had WAY too much to drink one night and got it all wrong in his interpretation...
Okay. So.
The chorus was PHENOMENAL, as was Grazia Doronzio (Liu) and the orchestra directed by Leonardo Vordoni.
Philip Webb (Calaf) is FAR FROM the Pavarotti he was sized up to be in the advertisements.
Lori Phillips (Turandot) was no saber-wielding Princess -- she walked and 'sang' (screeched) as if she had a knife thrust in her. (And what's up with the Evita look?)
Ping, Pang and Pong were entertaining but they totally reminded me of the typists in the musical "Thoroughly Modern Millie".
You know the old adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it"?
I think it applies to this rendition of 'Turandot'.
R.I.P. Signore Puccini

This is only my second

This is only my second Turandot. Several years ago I saw Franco Zeffirelli's lavish production at the Met. So I was curious to see what our home town company could do with this very grand opera. I was surprised and delighted with this fresh take on the 80-plus year old show.

The Zeffirelli version filled the Met's gigantic stage with a lake, a city, and the palace as well as over a hundred supers playing townsfolk, court dancers, and acrobats. This led the New York Times reviewer of the 1987 premier to say it had "the emotional impact of a night at the Ice Capades." He went on to say that the sets and the costumes were "apparently drawn from the Charlie Chan Dynasty." But like most audience member I was enchanted by the excess. However I don't remember much about the emotions, and even the music took second place to the spectacle.

The Welsh National Opera production which we saw here had exactly the opposite impact. The emphasis was squarely where it should be: on the music and the story. The production was visually beautiful, but it supported the emotions of the fairytale story and the cinematic music. It never upstaged the singer/actors.

And the singers did not need the cover of a gaudy set. From the conductor to the stars to the choristers and orchestra players, everyone turned in commanding performances. I was carried away by the sweep of emotions.

Kudos to Portland Opera. Thank you for bringing this delight to our stage. Sign me up for the whole season next year.

Oh my… If lust, betrayal,

Oh my…

If lust, betrayal, torture, and murder could ever be considered dull, this production managed it handily. The opera was disappointment on a level that transcends description.

The stage looked like the inside of a corn silo without the charm. The corrugated walls hung with portraits of the condemned did nothing to establish time and place. It more aptly evoked an Oklahoma post office festooned with wanted posters than the central courtyard of Bejing, China.

Costuming was chaotic as if the opera was produced by a group of high school students dressing themselves in whatever they found in their parents’ closets. There was some logic to the chorus being dressed alike (the sameness of communist China) and to the three ministers in coordinating colors but the rest of the cast was left to stagger about the stage in random bits of clothing, possibly their own. One lucky fellow had an ensemble reminiscent of Imperial China but Turandot looked like an aging Eva Peron and Prince Calaf resembled an adipose basement dweller dressed for his first Comi-con (comic book convention) in button down shirt and ridiculous Pleather duster. They were NOT the stuff of which dreams are made.

Much can be forgiven when the voices are good. Unfortunately these were not. Calaf, played by Phillip Webb, was eclipsed by the orchestra to the point that I didn’t recognize his first major aria, “Non piangere Liu!” until he was two-thirds of the way through. I love that song; very disappointing. The opera’s signature aria, Nessun Dorma, was delivered from a chair with all the passion of a man deciding whether to have eggs or oatmeal for breakfast. He finally got up to deliver the “money note,” which was not at all a given as he wobbled his way to the payoff then hastily retreated. Turandot, the ice princess, had more power in her delivery but the notes were shrill to shrieky. The best vocal performances were delivered by the slave girl and Calaf’s father. Both of them died.

Without stage, costume, or voice the only thing left is acting. Sadly, talent in this arena was in short supply. Lori Phillips as Turandot, described in the lyric as icy, strong, cruel, and passionless, staggered around the stage like she was drunk or infected by a zombie. Calaf displayed all the heroic qualities of the common garden slug. Mostly he stood, or sat, around with no discernable expression. The most appalling scene in the opera was the last when sunrise must bring either Calaf’s true name (and his death) or the torture and murder of countless citizens under pressure to get the name. Calaf should have been pacing with anxiety, Turandot should have been seething with anger, instead they both sat in wooden chairs with no expression while the pageantry flowed around them. They were truly the most uninteresting principal characters I’ve ever seen. Ultimately the slave girl and Calaf’s father both sacrifice themselves, ostensibly for love of Calaf, but I think it was more likely in self-defense as they could no longer bear the implausible tedium of the show. By the time Calaf and Turandot kissed I was long passed caring.

The production failed on so many levels it’s hard to contemplate. And it was our ONE treat for the year! The tickets were so expensive we won’t be able to do anything else. Therein lies the true tragedy…

I wish I had your command of

I wish I had your command of the English language. You stated my exact feelings so much better than I could, especially the "garden slug" description.

This was my first opera, and

This was my first opera, and I attended with great anticipation but left feeling
disappointed. I think I would have enjoyed the performance much more from the orchestra pit, though I generally am not opposed to modern sets and direction in staged art. Grazia Doronzio was great as Liu, and I enjoyed the antics of Ping, Pong and Pang. My favorite part was discovering the results of Comic Artist Night @ the Opera out in the lobby during intermission. When does the graphic novel come out? Maybe I should have waited for that!

Turandot was my first opera,

Turandot was my first opera, and I came with great anticipation; left feeling rather cheated. I think I would have enjoyed the entire performance more from the orchestra pit, though I am generally not opposed to modern settings and direction in other staged art. I agree with those who champion Grazia Doronzio's performance as Liu, she was great, as were the lively Ping, Pong and Pang. My favorite part was during intermission when I found the results of Comic Artist Night @ the Opera out in the lobby. When does the graphic novel come out? Maybe I should have waited for that !

Very disappointing!

Very disappointing!

My wife and I have been opera fans for some years now. I really hate to say that this is our first real disappointment. We will be reluctant to attend again. The little Fresno Grand Opera, in Fresno California did an admirable job in comparison. Like the other commentators I found the set design and costumes not bad exactly, lacking, I think, would be better, as if the players brought their own clothes. The stage direction, however, really buried this performance, as the characters seemed more to apologize for their stage presence rather than display any heroic or self-sacrificing virtues.

Beyond that, the depiction of certain sexual behaviors were inappropriate for this venue: I'm sure there were some folks there with children who were embarrassed, especially after the M.C. spoke about reaching out to children through the arts. Hello!

A nice job for a college play, but you won't be getting any subscriptions from us, thank you very much.

Alan and Ronell

The more comments I read

The more comments I read about this Titanic disaster of a production the more I want my money back. I have Portland Center Stage season tickets. Their productions are truly amazing. Last year I saw Snow Falling on Ceders. The set was very simple. An unremarkable table was in one scene a table, in another a bunker, in another a stretcher. It was all very believable The wonderful artists at Portland Center Stage create beautiful productions out of the simpilist elements and they invite, with every bit of energy they put into their production, the audience in to be part of it. Portland Opera, please try to learn from Portland Center Stage. You very much need to discover what makes good theater, and yes, good opera.

Beautiful voices! Outstanding

Beautiful voices! Outstanding music! My kudos to the artists! As for stage direction and costumes? Horrible. First, the corrugated steel set looked like Dick Cheney's undisclosed bunker, perhaps an abandoned missile silo in North Dakota? The portraits of beheaded lovers were interesting in Act 1 but by Act 3 the chorus has beat you over the head with them so many times you're left bewildered as to their purpose. The actors are given nothing to do. Timur lays torpid through most of it. Others alternate between hugging the cold walls, lounging in chairs, or resigning themselves to brief naps flat out on the stage. There's a very strange and bewildering homo-erotic scene between the executioner and the Prince of Persia where each of them caresses the axe. The buildup to Turandot's grand entrance (In questa Reggia) finally arrives and who should emerge? Laura Bush in a drab blue power suit and a weird blonde wig! Liu was amazing. The others struggled and shuffled in slow motion from one area of stage to another, visibly waiting for the music to queue them. Why does Calaf seem to scorn Liu after her confession of love and resolution to remain silent under torture? Why does Turandot proclaim her defiance even as she walks clear across the stage to kiss Calaf? Who knows. Somehow the director managed to make Turandot boring and that's an amazing feat. Oh well, C'est la vie. There's always next season. I'm excited about the new Galileo by Glass.

Turandot - Minimalist stage,

Turandot - Minimalist stage, minimalist costume, minimal emotion; I can only think that people applauded out of ignorance or joy that this snooze of a production was at very long last concluded. I'm appalled at the total lack of enthusiasm by the lead tenor and soprano. The characters looked like lifeless blobs. They seemed not to care at all about their performance or the opera. They showed no emotion toward one another. They showed no emotion toward the other characters. I'm glad I didn't renew my subscription before this excrutiating performance ended.

I may be in the minority

I may be in the minority here, because there are several things I applaud concerning this Portland Opera production of Turandot. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the adventurous new staging and lighting unfold as the opera progressed, though in the long run the attempts were not totally successful. From my vantage point of row V, slightly off center, the scenes took on the look of contemporary paintings, or perhaps hand-colored photographs . . . very stylistic, with color combinations that were, by the way, reminiscent of Chinese motifs. The reds, lavenders and luminescent greens achieved through lighting were daring, bold choices that may not have complemented the theme or libretto, but definitely took the production to another level, perhaps meant to do nothing more than modernize the presentation. Sometimes, you just accept art for what it is, whether it be a painting or stage design.

Also, as I read the libretto crawl, I could not help but notice Puccini's many references to color in his metaphors . . . could the use of bold colors in staging/lighting have had something to do with the composer's relationship to or use of color in his work?

Hearing the familiar, lush music was thrilling, though there were some problems, primarily, for me, with the two leads. I was surprised to read in the program notes that Lori Phillips and Philip Webb had performed these very roles together at highly respected venues; frankly, it made me wonder if less than top notch performers were being hired by companies around the country as a cost-cutting measure. On the other hand, Grazia Doronzio was quite wonderful as Liu . . . her voice moved me to tears in Act I. And Ping, Pang and Pong (did I get that right?) were terrific, as singers and comic actors.

As wonderful as the spirit of innovation is, this is opera, after all, and my wish would be for Portland Opera to invest most of its production dollars in voices. It is not fair to compare one company to another, but this is what happens at the wonderful Seattle Opera. The voices . . . oh, the voices. But Seattle takes bold chances, too, especially in new productions. And we cannot help but admire Portland Opera's steps to move with the times and do the same, hopefully attracting new audiences in the process. Our opera company has improved tremendously over the last few decades.

I say kudos for the experimentation, thanks for an entertaining matinee, and I'll be watching . . . and listening.

I started going to the

I started going to the Portland Opera in 2003.

I agree with most of the comments so far regarding the staging of Turandot. I like to add that I decided to quit going to the Portland Opera performances after seeing the staging for The Flying Dutchman in the Spring of 2007 and the minimalist set of Don Giovanni in 2006. I could not justify spending the money for a ticket when the company does not put an effort to stage the story. In Autumn of 2008, I decided to give Portland Opera a second chance when the company did La Traviata. Pleased with the performance and staging, I decided to become a season ticket holder. Finding out that the same stage director did The Flying Dutchman and Turandot, I vow I will never again spend money on a Christopher Alden staging of an opera.

Portland Opera - Please tell the audience before the production not to clap until the conductor puts down his/her baton. It is rude to the performers and the audience to clap before the aria or music is finished. The audience starting clapping while Calaf was holding his last note of Nessun Dorma on Friday night's performance. If we were at the La Scala, they would have SHHHHH the clappers.

Very enjoyable.

Very enjoyable.

My first opera -

My first opera - Turandot

Wonderful balcony seats - so much anticipation!

To finally see the story that makes me weep with sorrow, and with hope.

Curtain up, curtain down - surrounded by disappointment.

Such a negative and VOCAL reaction from the audience.

They joy I struggled to feel, gone.

Perhaps another time.


Robbie don't let this one

Robbie don't let this one unfortunate experience color your decision to return to other performances. In 10 years of being a subscriber to Portland Opera this is the first really bad review I have ever given to any performance. There were some that were better than others but this is the only one I can say was best missed or at least heard and not seen.

Thank you for the courtesy of

Thank you for the courtesy of a reply. It matters! I knew as the show progressed that this performance left much to be desired and agree with many of the comments here. Madeline Albright, yes, that's it!

What I did not for a moment expect was the audience loudly and maliciously spouting their disapproval during the intermissions. I half-expected some of these people to spit on the floor! It was embarrassing, and disheartening.

I'd expected a reasonable amount of manners, or some kind of insight that we all weren't sitting in front of a TV in the basement. The commentary and air of anger made a disappointing experience even worse. I do believe that next time I attend (and I will), I'll chose a less-expensive seat with the "common folk" and hope for a better experience. Maybe those for whom this is a special treat will behave accordingly.

Eva Peron!

Eva Peron!

If you want to hear the role

If you want to hear the role of Turandot sung, not screeched, come hear Lori Phillip in Portland.

If you want to hear the best Calif ever, don't come to Portland. Phillip Webb's voice has a beautiful sound but he got lost behind the orchestra all the time. Since no one else had that problem I can't blame the orchestra.

Brendan Touhy, who sang here as Albert in Albert Herring a couple years ago, was back in the role of Pong. He sang Nessun Dorma last Sunday at the library and should have done it last night.

I have to agree with almost all of what has been said about the production. Why did everyone seem to have trouble walking? The singers slowly staggered from place to place for no apparent reason.

Did I say the orchestra and chorus were fabulous? The orchestra and chorus were fabulous.
Turandot may be an opera for chorus and orchestra with supporting soloists.

My wife and I have been

My wife and I have been regular subscribers for over 25 years, and this has to be the most confusing staging we have ever seen. It was difficult to connect the characters with the story, because of the weird clothing and directing. At dinner, we met a father and 15 year-old son who was attending his first opera, and we assured him that it would be a real multi-media feast. How wrong we were! I hope he decides to attend another opera again. We hope that you not repeat this kind of experimentation in the future. Puccini would have been horrified.

I agree completely with all

I agree completely with all of the negative reviews which were posted prior to mine. I would like to add that the poster photographs of the deceased suitors were terribly inappropriate and distracting. This was particularly true in the last act when the choristers paraded around holding the photographs. What was the point? Also, in the last act when Calaf was professing his love for Turandot, why was he facing left field instead of addressing his feelings towards Turandot? The sets,the costumes, and the lighting were awful. The entire staging was ludicrous. As for stage presence,Lori Phillips' singing and acting were atrocious.She should be banned from future Portland Opera productions.Fortunately, there were some high spots and they should be mentioned. Timothy Mix, Steven Brennfleck and Brendan Tuohy were excellent as Ping, Pang and Pong, and Grazia Doronzio was lovely as Liu. This was the fourth time since 1986 my wife and I have seen Turandot at Portland Opera, and only the first time when we have been disappointed.

My wife and I went to see

My wife and I went to see Puccini's Turandot last night. We had a lovely night out but were both very confused when in the second Act the other-worldly, enchanting Princess should walk out, for which a 100 men have professed their love for in death, and a Matronly Dame in a two-piece suit and too tight shoes staggers out on stage to sing. Kind of ruined the anticipated effect.

It was like George Lucas had decided to remake "A New Hope" and had cast Dame Judi Dench in the role of Princess Leia.

The story is set in China, so maybe the Director should have taken the same approach as Zhang Yimou did for the Beijing Olympics Opening show and have one cute girl on stage miming the part, and another off-stage singing.

The third act is a stormer however.

I do have to comment on the use of the chorus off-stage. Singing from the wings is one thing, but singing from the other side of a Grain Silo is guaranteed to be muffled. The chorus should have been in the 'balcony' of the silo the whole time. This may have made the production look more like a Greek Tragedy, but that would have been appropriate. Having principles sing seated down at the back of the stage is also a strange decision.

Although the Mandarin is a Baritone, I think the life and colour in his voice would have been well served in the role of Calef, at least one might believe he has the Eyes of Heroes.

Close your eyes! I want to

Close your eyes! I want to warn Puccini lovers to come with very low expectations for this production. I love Turandot, but this has to be the worst opera stage direction I've ever seen. I'll accept that grand-scale productions are expensive--so then why not use a real set and costumes that already exist, instead of this very limiting set and non-costumes? Even with a limited budget, what is this stage director thinking? The first act begins with our hero wandering about and looking like he's freezing, then his exiled father in hiding is trailing an inconspicuous ten-foot tail. Their chance meeting (the only characters on the stage) resulted in the two not even touching each other, and Timur laid on the floor most of the rest of the opera. It mostly went downhill from there, so by the third act I had to close my eyes to keep from being distracted by the incorrect or non-existent stage direction.

The contradictions of Turandot are challenging for stage direction, but less stage direction is definitely not the answer. The one innovation I liked was how Turandot is shaken by Calaf's answers in Act 2, instead just giving him icy stares as in of most productions. But as Turandot is still vowing to never by taken, she walks to Calaf for a kiss?? I also hope such staging is a thing of the past.

What a waste of terrific

What a waste of terrific singers! The production was a confused mess. Didn't Portland Opera do a very successful production of Turandot several years ago? I wonder why they chose to bring in this stage director for this particular production? If you go close your eyes and just listen-the music is well-served.

This director seems to be

This director seems to be serving his ego rather than the music. Setting an opera in a sewer pipe is never a good idea, but this is not the first such setting I have seen. The mix of Mao era costumes with more ancient designs, the wierd love-making of the Prince of Persia with the executioners ax and the slo mo antics of the chorus were all trumped by the intolerable, glaring lighting especially in act three. A shame to squander all these great voices and fine acting on this Eurotrash. And now a word about the conductor. While the orchestra sounded wonderful, I'm sure the singers were perplexed by his refusal to recognize that at times they could not see him. He was not willing to keep pace with Liu early on, nor with the chorus when they were up in the viewing stands. His lack of coordination with their tempo was regrettable. Yes, he's the Maestro, but there are times when the Maestro has to match what the singers are doing rather than the other way around.
Still, the company's performance of this fine music is so great, I'll go back and see it again. I love Portland Opera, although I skipped Hansel and Gretel-- I don't care for that production, either!

I must also agree with Kent

I must also agree with Kent and the rest of the commentators. The staging left a lot to be desired. I understand that the old style staging that I grew up with is cost prohibitive but this staging seemed to have nothing to do with the content of the opera. The cast was wonderful and the music divine but I hope we don't have too many more stage productions like this one.

I also agree with Kent on all

I also agree with Kent on all counts. I will add that if you had the misfortune to be sitting on the far left of the ground floor, you missed about 20% of the play by having ridiculously bright lights blasted in your eyes. Most of act three was drowned out by the said lights. Also in act three I was hugely disappointed by the disconnect between the words and the action. Calaf sat in his chair while Liu gave her life for him, following which he and Turandot sang to each other from their respective seats over Liu's dead body. The music was beautiful, but I think the experience would have been greatly improved if I were blind. Oh wait, I was whenever those darn lights were on.

I heartily agree with Kent.

I heartily agree with Kent. From the "Who Can Walk Slowest" contest (six way tie) to the Who Can Spend the Most Time on the Floor" contest (Timur by a mile), the idiocy of the choreography was only matched by the absurdity of the costumes (Who would think of dressing Turandot to look like Madeleine Albright?) The chorus, orchestra and most principals were fine, but spare me the "modernization" that might have gone down well in Wales, but laid an egg in Portland.

Kent's comments hit the nail

Kent's comments hit the nail on the head with describing the oddest stage direction I have ever seen. Did the stage director not realize this opera takes place in China? Did he not understand that the lyrics actually have a connection with how singers move and interact on the stage? Have any of you seen the old Seinfeld episode where poor George Constanza says and acts "opposite" to how he really feels? I was reminded of that while watching this performance. After so many "HUH?" moments, I had to tell myself to stop paying attention or caring.
But the worst aspect of this performance was what Kent brings up, the lack of connection among the characters. I understand that la Principessa is an ice queen, but does that mean ALL the characters needed to move and act like blocks of ice themselves? If there is no connection between any of the singers, why should the audience connect with this opera?
The highlight was seeing Ping, Pang, and Pong as bureaucrats with desks and typewriters. That early scene was delightful.
It was downhill from there.

Beautiful music, well

Beautiful music, well performed, with some of the worst stage direction I have ever seen. To enjoy the opera, I often had to close my eyes. The words being sung often did not match the action on stage, e.g., Liu asking for help for the fallen Timur when he hasn't fallen yet in the first act. The pictures of slain young men from all over the world were all white, which made no logical sense. The actions of the chorus in the first act were pointless and distracting. I doubt I have ever seen so much intentional upstaging; were we supposed to be distracted and stop paying attention to the opera? If there was a point the audience was supposed to get, it was far beyond me. I tried to find meaning: communist rule in China, the disappearing youth of Argentina in the past, East Germany before the fall of the Berlin wall? Nothing made sense. And whoever decided to make the "hero" into a scared figure who had to go around holding himself together made a serious mistake. The love scene with Turandot in center stage and Calaf laying down as if asleep on one side was inane. The lack of connection between the characters was perhaps clearest when Liu lies dying and Calaf manages to look at her at times but can't even get out of his chair. I love the Portland Opera and will continue to attend, but I have high hopes that such poor staging will be a thing of the past.