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How the soprano can outsmart Jonas Kaufmann

How the soprano can outsmart Jonas Kaufmann

Antonio Pappano’s complete recording of Puccini’s “Turandot” boasts Most Wanted as Calaf, powerful-voiced Sondra Radvanovski in the title role and Ermonella Jaho, who sets check-ins as slave Liu. But what are the best recordings of this opera?

There Maestro Antonio Pappano conducts the choir and orchestra of the Accademia Santa Cecilia in Rome: he has conducted a truly respectable interpretation of Puccini’s last opera, Turandot. Where no experiments dared when it came to completing the fragmented third act, but relied on Franco Alfano’s version, tried and tested since the days of the world series premiere in Milan. Right about that, as it turns out. Thanks to Pappano’s committed approach, Alfano’s score proves its aptness: it approaches opera with credibility—Alfano can do nothing about the suspicion of the happy ending that Puccini had already complained about. He had to live with that, and the audience had to live with it.

As we can now hear again, we can live it well. A brilliant cast of singers, which must have been too expensive for the producers, were incorporated into Puccini’s sensuality of sound in all its fashionable facets and chromatic play of colour. The slave translator Liu, always sympathetic to the plot, received the greatest praise from early reviewers: Ermonela Jaho sings with soul, but with a vibrato that weakens again and again the slightly softer melody.

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