Of all the beautiful arias and choruses in Puccini’s opera Turandot, none is more memorable than “Nessun dorma,” (“no one may sleep”) sung by the hero, Calaf, in the third and final act.
“Nessun dorma” could be the theme song for the Toledo Opera cast, crew, and directors during this week of preparation for tonight’s show at 8 p.m. at the Peristyle.
This final show of the 2011-2012 season is a one-off — and a must-see.
Rehearsals started Sunday for the singers, who already knew their musical parts but needed to learn what stage director Marc Verzatt had in mind for each of them.
Originally intended as a concert version, where soloists and chorus would simply stand and sing while Stefan Sanderling, principal conductor of the Toledo Symphony, conducted the orchestra, the local company’s first production of this gorgeous Italian work morphed into something much more complex and alluring.
Tonight’s audience will experience a rich version of Puccini’s rarely performed final opera, enriched with simple set pieces and props, colorful costumes, dramatic lighting, and an ever-changing array of projected scenery. It’s bound to reinforce the theme of ancient China, where Turandot and her court conducted their life-and-death contests.
Rather than sets and backdrops, Verzatt brought the scene-setting process front and center, hiring fellow Yale faculty member and lighting expert Laura J. Eckelman to create a virtual “front drop” of images to set the scenes and enhance the action.
As English super titles flash at the top of the screen centered on the Peristyle proscenium, Eckelman’s selection of some 100 paintings, drawings, and prints are projected just below.
The over-the-top character of Turandot, the tortured ice princess with the simmering ego and a penchant for beheading, receives a power boost as portrayed by dramatic soprano Amy Louise Yekel.
One reason Turandot, the opera, isn’t produced often is the difficulty of the title role, not to mention the complexity of the orchestral score and the demanding choral parts. Yekel, a Canton native, makes it look easy.
Her buttery smooth soprano voice seems effortless in delivery, yet her power actually was enough to reverberate off the staid old stone walls of the Peristyle on Wednesday night, sending a palpable thrill to those listening. She seems born to sing Turandot.
Her romantic partner on stage, Adam Laurence Herskowitz, has a powerful and flexible tenor that is a fine match for Yekel. Tall and commanding physically, he cuts a convincingly dashing and romantic figure.
Tickets are $25-$65 at 419-255-7464, toledoopera.org, or at the museum box office tonight.
Contact Sally Vallongo at