Great Performances: Season 27, Episode 16

Turandot at the Forbidden City of Beijing (9 Jun. 1999)

TV Episode  |   |  Biography, Drama, Music
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 97 users  
Reviews: 5 user | 2 critic

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Title: Turandot at the Forbidden City of Beijing (09 Jun 1999)

Turandot at the Forbidden City of Beijing (09 Jun 1999) on IMDb 7.8/10

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Episode cast overview:
Giovanna Casolla ...
Sergej Larin ...
Calaf (as Sergeij Larin)
Barbara Frittoli ...
Carlo Colombara ...
José Fardilha ...
Francesco Piccoli ...
Carlo Allemano ...
Aldo Bottion ...
Vittorio Vitelli ...
Un Mandarino
Yuanyuan Liu ...
Executioner (as Liu Yuanyuan)
Zubin Mehta ...
Himself - Conductor


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Plot Keywords:

opera | See All (1) »






Release Date:

9 June 1999 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?


Puccini died in 1924, while working on "Turandot"; he got as far as the scene in which a major character commits suicide to avoid cracking under torture, but Frederico Alfano completed it, and most critics feel that Puccini would have handled the awkward moment in the ending far better than Alfano did. One of those who believed this was conductor Arturo Toscanini, a friend of Puccini's, who led the work's world premiere in 1926. Immediately after the suicide scene, he laid down his baton and with tears in his eyes, spoke to the audience for the only time in his life: "Here Maestro Puccini laid down his pen. Death was stronger than art". Toscanini then left the orchestra pit. See more »


Referenced in The Turandot Project (2000) See more »

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User Reviews

A Fantastic Film
28 January 2006 | by (Sacramento, CA) – See all my reviews

OK, now take Puccini. Zhang Yimou. Zubin Mehta. Peking. China. Italy. A Florentine chorus in the the Forbidden City. Colors. And then, culture clashes. Add it all up and you wind up with something absolutely magical and memorable. Let me be straight from the beginning: I'm a big fan of Zhang Yimou and have been so ever since I saw Red Sorghum. I have been a fan of Mehta's ever since he showed up in the US after working with Von Karajan in Vienna. Too, I'm an opera buff who loves-- no, adores-- Puccini. And, I'm an anthropologist who loves movies.

The cultural overlays in this production are incredible. When I saw Turandot performed for the first time in Italy, it was fabulous. But, while the costumes and settings were imaginative, I knew they were not really representative of classical China. They were a mix of Japanese, Asian and Italian imagination but we were all able to let that attachment with reality go in the magic of Puccini's music. Not so, Zhang Yimou, a Chinese perfectionist whose artistic talent and tradition demands authenticity. As he tells his crew that not to do so would be a "joke" to Chinese Culture, he clearly inserts the importance of "saving face" to his colleagues. Mehta, the guy who put it all together, had more guts than a slaughterhouse to undertake this project. But, wow! What a project! What fantastic colors! What a show! Yes, the film's music is a bit weakened by the massive setting but the heart of the project is displayed without flaws.

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