Act I of Turandot, directed by Andrei Şerban, Washington National Opera, 2009 (photo by Karin Cooper)
We last heard the powerhouse soprano Maria Guleghina in the 2005 production of Verdi's I Vespri Siciliani. Her puissant dramatic soprano has earned her nicknames like the Oceanliner and the Sonic Boom among the opera blogs, and it is exactly the sort of voice needed so much of the time for Turandot. From her dramatic entrance with In questa reggia Guleghina sang with immense vocal power, slicing through the massive orchestra, which was mostly given its head by conductor Keri-Lynn Wilson. As her Calaf, Argentinian tenor Darío Volonté was weak and undersupported, although he at least made a decent impression in Nessun dorma. It was what led up to that that made one dread the opening of the third act, a pale voice, most of the tone swallowed, that disappeared completely into the orchestra much of the time.
(L to R) Norman Shankle (Pang), Nathan Herfindal (Ping), and Yingxi Zhang (Pong), in Turandot, directed by Andrei Şerban, Washington National Opera, 2009 (photo by Karin Cooper)
Anne Midgette, The Familiar Pleasures of 'Turandot' (Washington Post, May 18)
Tim Smith, Washington National Opera offers vivid 'Turandot' in now-classic Andrei Serban staging (Clef Notes, May 18)
Philip Kennicott, Right-Sizing Turandot at the Washington National Opera (Philip Kennicott, May 17)
Olga Haldey, Turandot — Washington National Opera (Opera Today, May 17)
This production of Puccini's Turandot continues through June 4 at Washington National Opera. Other sings will take over the three leading roles at some of the later performances (review forthcoming).