The Turandot Project
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In 1997, Oscar-winning documentarian Allan Miller (THE BOLERO, FROM MAO TO MOZART) embarked on a film project with renowned conductor Zubin Mehta and celebrated Chinese film director Zhang Yimou (RAISE THE RED LANTERN, HOUSE OF THE FLYING DAGGERS) as they joined forces in a production of Puccini's opera Turandot in Florence. Before the year was out, an extraordinary opportunity arose: to stage Turandot in its original setting in the Forbidden City of Beijing. The outdoor production was an undertaking on an epic scale--including the expansion of the site with the construction of huge new sets, the creation of breathtaking hand-sewn Ming Dynasty costumes and the adding of hundreds of soldiers and local extras, to lend a lavish authenticity to the staging. A fascinating chronicle of an unprecedented cross-cultural collaboration, THE TURANDOT PROJECT combines the pageantry of this opulent opera production with a spectacular cinematic portrait of the struggles and triumphs of Zubin Mehta and Zhang Yimou to mount their production in this most historic venue of China.
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...We need this..........................
I don't think I will add Mehta's production to my collection any time soon.
While the production itself is spectacular (300 extras, 50 ballet dancers, a contortionist from the Beijing Opera, and 300 soldiers from the local Chinese Army garrison), the documentary of what was involved in making the production actually happen is fascinating. I counted at least four languages (English, Italian, and Mandarin for most, but let's not forget the Viennese sound director with his own Mandarin/German translator) and a nearly unlimited number of egos.
At the end of the documentary, while we hear Puccini's gorgeous music, the film cuts between the the actual production and the earlier shots of the various problems and rehearsals. I swear, watching that, I got actual goosebumps.
In all, the production is the culmination of an astonishing effort dedicated towards one goal: the production of Puccini's masterpiece in its perfect setting, the Forbidden City. The production is a triumph of human dedication and cooperation and makes you think that maybe, in the end, there's hope for us all.
I then purchased the DVD of the completed work Turandot in China by Zubin Mehta -and Zang Yimo.