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‘Turandot’ meets the Second Line

It’s that time of the year again– opera in New Orleans. Long recognized as the oldest performing art form in our city, in fact in the country, grand opera is the over-the-top presentation of dramatic acting, stunning stage sets and, above everything, extraordinary voices all together on one stage. But this year, the New Orleans Opera Association is starting out a little differently. Oh, yes, they’re mounting one of opera’s grandest of grand operas, but Turandot, Giacomo Puccini’s final masterpiece, will be presented in a very special semi-staged version and in a quite different setting: The New Orleans Theater in the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

Lise Lindstrom in costume as the ice princess 'Turandot' (photo by John Fitzgerald)

This legendary fable of the icy, blood-thirsty princess, Turandot, will have all the expected inclusions: an enormous and glorious choir; opulent costumes; the incredible Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra; world-class singers, led by California native Lise Lindstrom; now considered “The Turandot of our time” (Opera News); and, of course, the extraordinary and iconic aria “Nessum dorma” long since made part of popular culture by the Three Tenors.

So what is a “semi-staged” grand opera? Well, it’s definitely not a bunch of singers sitting on a stage waiting to sing, says Robert Lyall, General Director of the New Orleans Opera Association. “Semi-staged here means more simply staged,” he says. “In this case, the orchestra will be on stage and there will be a platform for the singers to act out their roles. In fact, the actions themselves will be virtually identical as if there was a full set.”

But there’s more. Since this is New Orleans after all, and opera fans consider the opening of their season to be a time of celebration, that’s what they are going to do. And there’s nothing “semi” (read that simpler) about their post-opera feasting. For immediately after this one-night only performance, if you follow a second-line around the corner of the Convention center to Mardi Gras World you will be able to enjoy “Calaf’s Victory Feast.” I’ll bet they don’t do that at the Met!

Feast tickets start at $85, and the event will feature Chinese delights, unlimited libations, the Jimmy Maxwell Orchestra, and other surprises.

Turandot, a one-night only Semi-Staged Gala Evening, will take place on Saturday, October 15 at 6 p.m. with a Nuts & Bolts Lecture one hour prior to curtain by Donald R. Boomgaarden, Dean, College of Music and Fine Arts, Loyola University.

As a special offer, if you call the Box Office and mention NolaVie , you’ll receive an extra 15% off the performance ticket price when you buy the performance and dinner tickets together! For more information on this special offer or to purchase tickets, call the New Orleans Opera Association Box Office at 504-529-3000 to make your reservations.

Listen to conductor and producer Robert Lyle and NolaVie founder Sharon Litwin discuss “the blood, guts and drama” of Puccini’s masterpiece Turandot on WWNO here.

Sharon Litwin writes Culture Watch, about New Orleans culture, weekly for NolaVie.


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