Show artwork for Turandot

Turandot Turandot

Composed by Giacomo Puccini

Conducted by James Conlon

May 18 – June 8, 2024

Production new to Los Angeles

At the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

Puccini’s blockbuster returns to LA Opera for the first time in two decades, in a fantastical production designed by David Hockney.

Captivated by a beauty who scorns love, a renegade prince enters an all but impossible contest, where the price of failure is death. But beyond the legendary riddles, he’ll find another challenge in melting Turandot’s stubborn heart.

Soprano Angela Meade takes on the thrilling title role, with tenor Russell Thomas as her impetuous suitor and soprano Guanqun Yu as the woman who shows everyone the true meaning of devotion. 

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“Meade’s voice has lustrous body and brilliant volume. There is dark richness that holds the potential for exceptional expressivity when that weight of sound is moved with graceful ease.”

Los Angeles Times

“The designs [by David Hockney] were at once enchanting and disorienting, brightly timbred and coolly esthetic, powerfully alluring and disturbingly inhuman.”

New York Times


Angela Meade
Russell Thomas
Guanqun Yu
Morris Robinson
Ryan Wolfe
Terrence Chin-Loy
Julius Ahn
A Mandarin
Alan Williams
Emperor Altoum
Ashley Faatoalia

Creative Team

James Conlon
Garnett Bruce
David Hockney
Ian Falconer
Original Lighting Design
Thomas J. Munn
Jeremy Frank

Read the synopsis

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Act One
The drama unfolds in a legendary Peking, China. Princess Turandot will only marry a man who can solve her three riddles; all who fail must die.  Many heroes have perished trying to win her hand. The kingdom has gathered to witness the execution of the latest to fail, the Prince of Persia. Timur, the deposed King of the Tartars, old and blind, hides among the crowd with his servant girl Liù.  Timur falls when the crowd surges forward to see the Prince. Timur’s son Calaf, recognizing his father, helps the old man to his feet. The crowd cries out for blood, calling on the moon to rise, for that is the moment of execution. But when the Prince appears, he is pale, handsome, and barely more than a boy.  The crowd takes pity on him and begs Turandot to have mercy on him. Turandot appears to signal the execution and Calaf is captivated by her heavenly beauty. Timur and Liù try to impress upon him that pursuing his infatuation will only end badly as the Prince of Persia is executed, but Calaf will hear none of it. Calaf rushes to strike the gong, thereby declaring his intention to pursue Turandot, but Ping, Pang and Pong, the Emperor’s ministers, intervene. They warn him that striking the gong leads to certain death, and Timur and Liù echo their entreaties while the ghosts of Turandot’s executed suitors egg Calaf on. Liù cannot bear Calaf’s obstinate, destructive resolve (“Signore, ascolta!”).  Calaf tries to comfort her (“Non piangere, Liù”), but Liù only foresees certain death. He rushes forward and strikes the gong three times.

Act Two
Scene One
Ping, Pang, and Pong sit in a pavilion on the grounds of the palace recalling the countless executions they’ve seen since the birth of Princess Turandot. Thirteen men have already died this year, and the ministers are ready to make Calaf the 14th name on that list. They dream of the day when the executions will end, but preparations are already underway for Calaf.

Scene Two
Eight wise men appear in the square carrying scrolls with the answers to the three riddles (“Gravi, enormi ed impotenti”). The ancient Emperor, enthroned in venerable majesty, begs Calaf to leave, but the Tartar prince will not yield. Turandot recounts the story of Princess Lou-Ling, her ancestor, dragged away by invading Tartars (“In questa reggia”). Hatred for the man who killed her lives on in Turandot’s heart, and no man shall ever possess her.  Turandot then speaks the riddles. Calaf answers each one correctly, but Turandot refuses to become his wife. He tells her that if she can discover his name before dawn, he will let her have him executed.

Act Three
The heralds announce that by order of Princess Turandot, tonight no man shall sleep. Death will be the penalty if the stranger’s name is not known by dawn. Calaf vows to only reveal his name to Turandot once daylight has broken (“Nessun dorma!”). Ping, Pang, and Pong try to wrench the secret from Calaf, but he refuses all of their attempts to elicit his name. Soldiers bring in Timur and Liù, and Turandot enters to interrogate them. Liù declares that she alone knows the stranger’s name.  The soldiers try to torture it out of her, but she grabs one of their daggers and stabs herself, declaring that by her sacrifice, the princess will come to love the stranger. Timur follows Liù’s body as the people lift it and carry it away. Calaf indignantly kisses Turandot, trying to thaw the princess of ice (“Principessa di morte!”). Dawn breaks, and with it, Turandot’s resolve. When the crowd asks if she knows the stranger’s name, she replies, looking into Calaf’s eyes, “His name is love!” Spared death, the populace celebrates their happiness.

Sung in Italian with English subtitles

Running time: two hours and 55 minutes, including two intermissions

Production from San Francisco Opera

Audio description will be available for the May 26 matinee.

Artwork for Turandot
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2023/24 Season