Italy's leading fashion and beauty weekly magazine, Grazia, just relaunched their website with a sleek, clued-up streamlining of delicious content.
Opera Chic was invited to join Grazia and write the Night Out culture/entertainment column, "Stasera Esco" -- where you can read all about the best ballet, opera, and symphony events in Italy and elsewhere.
Her first piece is on American soprano Lise Lindstrom who is currently singing Turandot at La Scala (photo above, taken by OC).
The pieces, for now, are only in Italian language -- so what better reason to finally learn Italian?
(UPDATE: Opera Chic's English translation added, under the cut!)
Opera's most famous man-eater is back: Turandot, the terrifying Asian princess from Giacomo Puccini’s opera, debuts at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala (last seen during the 2003/2004 season) on April 10 in a new production by Giorgio Barberio Corsetti, conducted by Valery Gergiev and Daniele Callegari. Based on a Persian fairy tale, Turandot is about a princess who asks all of her prospective suitors to solve three impossible riddles: and when they can’t find the answers, the men are beheaded. Only one type of super-hero can melt her heart and win her hand at marriage: the male protagonist of the opera, Prince Calaf, tries his luck and with the help of his female slave Lui, he wins Turandot’s love.
It’s Puccini’s last opera, which was initially left incomplete and which the composer was never able to see in its premiere, at Teatro alla Scala, in 1926 under the baton of Arturo Toscanini (the missing music, the finale, was completed by the Neapolitan Franco Aflano, a student of Puccini). It’s an innovative opera considering the musical profile of the epoch, an experimental journal of Puccini’s Far East pallete far away from Europe’s shores, full of famous arias like the one that introduces Turandot, “In questa reggia” and Calaf’s “Nessun dorma” that was made even more famous on an international scale by Luciano Pavarotti.
Making her La Scala debut as Turandot is American soprano Lise Lindstrom. The California native has already sung the kimono-clad protagonist to critical acclaim around the world. Her New York City Metropolitan Opera Turandot debut in fall 2009 was a make-or-break moment: She was hired to sing four of Turandot's later replications, but when the ailing lead soprano pulled out of the premiere, Lise was called as a last-minute substitute.
So how is she preparing for her La Scala debut?
In edgier productions, Turandot is the ultimate feminist – a sword-wielding, serial-killing assassin like Uma Thurman in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill. How do you slip into the character of the brooding Ice Princess?
“It's all about the transition between real-life and stage-life, being an actor, and embodying the role. Puccini wrote it perfectly so it isn't such a big leap to turn into a cruel, aggressive woman on stage because it's all in my music, in the words I sing -- and just like my costume, I step into it.”
As a tall singer, have directors ever modified your costume or staging to better fit the opera's narrative?
“That's usually the decision of the costume designer, but since I'm almost always the tallest one on stage, I'm usually in a flat shoe of some kind. Although in Berlin, I sing a Turandot with some of the coolest, 3-inch heels ever -- I'm definitely dominant in that outfit and I love it!”
Turandot doesn't actually sing her first aria until the middle of Act II. So what are you up to until you go on stage?
“Some productions require Turandot to be present for the first act, but if I’m not, I usually show up at the theater just shortly before the curtain goes up and then I have about an hour to get into my makeup, my wig, and my costume. I also have to warm up my voice and get myself physically ready for the role, so I need all the time I can get!”
In making your Milan debut, what’s so striking about the city?
“I find that there's a real elegance to the people here, to the city, and I find that that impacts my presence in the theater, on stage, and I love it. It allows me bring so much power to Turandot.”