Financial Times, MARCH 10 2023
Richard Fairman
Antonio Pappano conducts Puccini’s Turandot with blazing colour — album review

Jonas Kaufmann is a superb Calaf on a disc that holds up against the opera’s great recordings of the past

Nobody can accuse Antonio Pappano and Warner Classics of rushing their cycle of Puccini’s operas. It is nearly 30 years since their release of La Bohème. Since then, the economics of the record industry mean that a starrily-cast recording of a grand opera like Turandot, made in the optimum conditions of a recording studio, has become a rarity.

This opens up different possibilities. Neither Pappano nor either of the two principal singers — Sondra Radvanovsky and Jonas Kaufmann — had ever taken part in a live performance of Turandot in the opera house, though Pappano is conducting it for the first time in London right now.

Kaufmann’s presence in the cast will no doubt be the main selling point. As always, he is superbly warm-toned and an exceptional musician, if less visceral a Calaf than some. There are times when he uses the microphone to sing very softly, and the result can seem rather arty for red-blooded Italian opera, but he rises proudly to all the big moments.

Radvanovsky has the big guns vocally for the title role, without the steely edge that can sometimes bedevil it, and Ermonela Jaho is an extremely vulnerable Liù. Michele Pertusi is the adequate Timur.

Above all, Pappano conducts the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia with flair, blazing colour and an ear for detail. This is also the first recording to include the posthumous completion of the opera by Franco Alfano in its entirety. There have been some great recordings of Turandot in the past, but this one does not pale in the face of the competition.


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