Turandot is probably Puccini’s most problematic opera. In fact, it took him so long trying to come to a convincing ending, that eventually he died before completing his work.
The plot of Turandot has its issues. Let’s face it, after the beautiful aria at the end of which Liu kills herself, it was always going to be difficult to top that and come to a convincing happy end. And that’s where the production in Berlin was so good – because there is no happy end!
In the production I saw in Berlin, the conductor was none other than the fabulous Zubin Mehta. The role of the vicious Turandot should originally have been played by Netrebko. But after she refused to take a stand and condemn Russia’s vicious attack on Ukraine, she was dropped by the Staatsoper. And rightly so. And to be honest, I don’t think it’s a great loss, seeing as she is slowly getting a bit past it.
From my hotel to the Staatsoper it’s about 45 minutes on foot and the route takes me through the Brandenbuger Tor to Unter den Linden. Just before you reach the opera, there is the Russian embassy and the Aeroflot offices next to it on your right. Exactly opposite, on the left side of the road, a banner has been put up in support of Ukraine – in full view of the embassy.
On my way back to the hotel it’s already dark, and the Brandenburger Tor and the Siegessäule are beautifully illuminated.