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Opera Deep Cuts: Busoni's "Turandot"

Cover art by Emil Orlik for Ferruccio Busoni's "Turandot" Suite
Emil Orlík (via Wikimedia Commons)
Cover art to Ferruccio Busoni's "Turandot" Suite

For the month of April, Sunday Night at the Opera dives deep into the stacks of the music library and dusts off some rarely-heard gems! On April 2, tune in for "Turandot" by Busoni (yes, Busoni).

Ferruccio Busoni: Turandot

Turandot: Mechthild Gessendorf
Altoum: Franz-Josef Selig
Kalaf: Stefan Dahlberg
Truffaldino: Markus Schäfer
Pantalone: Michael Kraus<
Tartaglia: Wolfgang Holzmair
Barak: Falk Struckmann
Adelma: Gabriele Sima
The Queen: Anne-Marie Rodde

Lyon Opera Orchestra and Chorus
Kent Nagano, conductor

Story synopsis

The Turandot story is a famous one in opera. Even if you've never heard of it, chances are you've heard Giacomo Puccini's most famous aria, which comes from Turandot: "Nessun dorma". Just over 2 minutes in length, the little snippet has become synonymous with opera, and is often used in commercials and those hidden-talent showsas a representation of the melodrama and athleticism of operatic singing.  Among opera lovers, Puccini's Turandot also has allure because it's Puccini's final (and ultimately unfinished) opera. 

In 1916, ten years prior to Puccini's Turdandot, the Italian-born composer Ferruccio Busoni also set about putting the story to music. Both are based on the same 1762 play by Carlo Gozzi, but Busoni's version stays a little more true to the original setting. Where Puccini's setting strives to add realism to the story, Busoni's Turandot pushes back against realism in theater, taking its cues from the larger-than-life stock characters of the Italian commedia dell'artetradition, a tradition that the Gozzi original belonged to. 

Looking forward to diving into this deep cut with you. Here's music from this weekend's recording led by Kent Negano: The Act 2 Slave Girl chorus from Busoni's Turandot (based on "Greensleeves").


GIOACHINO ROSSINI: "Una voce poco fa" from The Barber of Seville
     Marie-Nicole Lemieux, contralto
     Montpellier Occitanie National Orchestra and Chorus
     Enrique Mazzola, conductor
Album: Si, Si, Si, Si! / Rossini Opera Arias and Duets

ROBERT SCHUMANN: Liederkreis, Op. 39 "Eichendorff"
     Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone / Alfred Brendel, piano
Album: Schumann - Liederkreis, Op. 39 / "Dichterliebe" Op. 48

WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART: Mass in C Major, K. 317 "Coronation" 
     The English Concert & Choir
     Barbara Bonney, soprano
     Catherine Wyn Rogers, alto
     Jamie MacDougall, tenor
     Stephen Gadd, bass
     Trevor Pinnock, conductor
Album: Mozart: Krönungsmesse / Vesperae KV 339 U.A. - The English Concert & Choir/Pinnock

GEORG PHILIPP TELEMANN: Cantata TWV I:364, "Die stille Nacht" ("Der am Ölberg zagende Jesus")
     Philippe Jaroussky, countertenor
     Freiburg Baroque Orchestra
     Petra Müllejans, conductor
Album: Bach/Telemann: Sacred Cantatas - Philippe Jaroussky

FRANCIS POULENC: Sept Chansons (Seven Songs) for Mixed Choir, FP. 81
     RIAS Chamber Choir
     Daniel Reuss, conductor
Album: Poulenc: Figure Humaine / RIAS-Kammerchor - Daniel Reuss

CLAUDIO MONTEVERDI: Book 8 - Madrigals of War and Love: "Altri canti d'Amor" SV146
     Les Arts Florissants
     Paul Agnew, conductor
Album: Monteverdi: Mardigali, Vol 3 - Venezia / Les Arts Florissants - Paul Agnew

Chris Voss is the Weekday Afternoon Host and a Producer for CRB.