Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

OperaDelaware refreshes Puccini's unfinished classic at The Grand

Giacomo Puccini’s celebrated and troubled opera gets a rewrite in two OperaDelaware performances this month.

The composer Puccini died in 1924 before completing Turandot, and audiences and critics have relished its soaring melodies, including Nessun Dorma, while simultaneously lamenting its ending, assembled after his death.

OperaDelaware’s Kerriann Otaño says that at the opera’s premiere, the conductor Toscanini cemented the sentiment when he stopped “ the point in the opera where Puccini had finished writing Turandot, and said, ‘This is where the Maestro laid down his pen.’ So there’s always been this, sort of, the ending is not Puccini’s ending.”

Otaño says opera companies around the country are experimenting with new conclusions to the story.

“Some companies like to play with this and for us it’s an amazing opportunity to highlight a composer that we love, Derek Wang, who did Scalia/Ginsberg, and has been working on Fearless, a newly commissioned opera about a World War II Air Force pilot. So it’s a great opportunity for him as a contemporary composer to take Puccini’s original sketches and create this new ending that infuses his own voice in it.”

Maestro Anthony Barrese conducts OperaDelaware’s production with Michelle Johnson handling the role of Turandot.

Performances are this Friday evening and Sunday afternoon at The Grand in Wilmington.

OperaDelaware is also bringing back its Student Dress Rehearsal performance, a tradition that lapsed during the pandemic. That sold out event is Wednesday.

Delaware Public Media' s arts coverage is made possible, in part, by support from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency dedicated to nurturing and supporting the arts in Delaware, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.

Karl Lengel has worked in the lively arts as an actor, announcer, manager, director, administrator and teacher. In broadcast, he has accumulated three decades of on-air experience, most recently in New Orleans as WWNO’s anchor for NPR’s “All Things Considered” and a host for the broadcast/podcast “Louisiana Considered”.