“Turandot” brings love, death, marriage to Landmark Theater

What would you risk for the one you love? Would you die to keep their secrets? Would you risk your own death after such a person died for you so that your future spouse would love you?

A prince (Michael Hayes) does just that after Liu (Wei Huang) commits suicide to keep her master’s name secret from wicked Princess Turandot (Mary Ellen Schauber). Turandot must find his name, or marry him for answering her three riddles. If he had not answered the riddles he should have died, like many would-be-suitors.

“You get the feeling he wants to marry a Dominatrix,” said Glenn Winters, the Community Outreach Musical Director of the Virginia Opera.

“Turandot” was performed at the Landmark Theater. For those of you who would like to enjoy the opera, but do not speak a foreign language, have no fear. As long as you can read English supertitles – they were above the stage – you will be fine. If you know bits of Spanish, you’ll even be able to understand a few sentences. Based on the standing ovations, it is worth the cost. For students it’s $18 per performance, or $70 for all four operas, a “subscription.” There are lectures about the opera on Tuesdays, and 45 minutes before each performance.

The music, and lights coordinated well with the plot. For example, a musical boom that happened as an executioner’s sword was raised, and an absence of music as it fell.

“I think the music is the best part,” said high school student Cindi Caschak.

The lights were on the stage’s edge, and slightly distracted from the performance. The special effects, like the sword sharpening, was good. Though the bloodied sword could use some improvement.

Another feature of the opera is the makeup artist’s ability to change a blonde actress into a believably intimidating Chinese princess.

This production received a standing ovation and one audience member, Terry Cornett described it best; simply stating “It was really good.”

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