On 16th March 2019, Ankara State Opera and Ballet presented “Turandot”, the absolute masterpiece of Giacomo Puccini in a new production, with Maestro Vincenzo Grisostomi Travaglini as Stage Director and Maestro Antonio Pirolli as Conductor.
The two Maestros, long-term friends, remembered with emotion their first “Turandot” together some 19 years ago in the same Opera Theatre, with Soprano Nilgun Akkerman.
Under the impulsion of the new Director General of Turkish State Opera and Ballet, brilliant Tenor Murat Karahan who called back both Conductor and Stage Director to set up again a fairy tale style production, the actual resurrection of opera the way we like it, a fantastic evening opened up to the notes of Puccini’s last work…
The somptuous costumes of Savaş Camgöz, the magnificent sets of Özgür Usta and the magic lights of Fuat Gök have definitely given the performance the utmost touch of glamour. The public was enthusiastic and the applause at the end lasted more than fifteen minutes.
Mehlika Karadeniz Bilgin, who incarnated a very special Turandot, with her cristalline voice, declared about the production : “The work exposes how Turandot, the princess who doesn’t believe in love and hates men, gets to know love. It is the inner travel of a woman finding herself and a fight between her brain and heart. In fact, Turandot is the fight between the bad and the good,”
Explaining that the mystic and the mysterious side of the Far East are reflected on the opera, Maestro Vincenzo Grisostomi Travaglini said, “It portrays the inner conflicts of Princess Turandot and her fight with love.” Moreover, his classical and royal style given to the elegant stage direction confered to the opera the real sense of what opera should be on such an important stage as the Ankara State Opera and Ballet.
On another hand, the sincere friendship between Maestro Pirolli and Maestro Grisostomi Travaglini could be felt as their arts coincided in putting together the virtuosity of music tightly-knit with the respect of Puccini’s will to render solemnity and human research for truth and love. The climax was during the famous moment of Liù’s death, when the emotions reach the vibrations of everyone’s heart.
This exceptional production was also possible thanks to the participation of incredibly talented soloists such as Mehlika Karadeniz Bilgin, Perihan Nayır Artan, Murat Karahan, Aykut Çınar, Efe Kışlalı, Cem Akyüz, Özgür Savaş Gençtürk, Şafak Güç, Esin Talınlı, Tuğba Mankal Dekak, Seda Aracı Ayazlı, Tuncer Tercan, Çetin Kıranbay, Emre Uluocak, Kamil Kaplan, Arda Doğan, İbrahim Halil Turgut, Barış Yanç and Emre Akkuş… and all the artists of the Ankara State Opera Koro, under the direction of Maestro Giampaolo Vessella.
A special mention for Çetin Kıranbay, Barış Yanç and Arda Doğan, unforgettable Ping, Pang and Pong whose stage plays fabulously funny and “grotesque” as originally described by Puccini was one of the greatest moments of the performance.
I must also recognise that one of the magic elements of this Turandot was the use of the Ankara State Ballet. Both men and women dancers were absolutely smashing and gave a dynamic to special moments, like the Pu Ting Pao appearances, which was unique.
Not to forget anyone, here are the names of this impressive cast for my favourite version of “TURANDOT” ever …
To be noted the presence in the audience, Enrico Stinchelli, a famous Italian radio conductor, special guest of Ankara State Opera and Ballet, who actually enjoyed the performance.