If something doesn’t make sense, just remember: it’s opera!
Earlier this week, I got a chance to sketch through another dress rehearsal of the MN Opera – this time, Puccini’s final opera, Turandot. It’s a visually stunning show. I had to set down my sketches at a certain point and call them done because I wanted to just soak in all the colors and gorgeous costumes.
ESPECIALLY THE HATS.
If I had a hat like that, I’d wear it everywhere. Wedding? Giant horned emperor hat. Work event? Just let me get my giant horned emperor hat. Amusement park? It’s cool, you go on the log ride without me, I’m gonna sit on the mom bench with my giant horned emperor hat and eat a corn dog.
What was I talking about? OH RIGHT. Opera.
Performed in Italian, Turandot centers on a Chinese princess named Turandot who vows that no man will ever have her. When suitors come looking for her hand in marriage, she poses them three riddles to answer, and if they get one incorrect, she has them executed. It’s basically the bloodiest speed-dating ever. One day, an unnamed prince wanders into her kingdom and falls madly in love with her at first sight -which I can’t blame him for. I mean, the woman’s robes feature the faces of screaming dead suitors. She’s a delightful tiny murder princess. I fell in love with her at first sight a little.
Anyway, the kingdom’s three wise men try to bribe the mystery suitor with women and riches to keep him from throwing his life away, but he attempts to court Turandot anyway and correctly answers all her riddles. Turandot refuses to marry him, so he poses her a riddle in return: if she can’t find out what his name is within one day, she has to marry him. In the end, after a lot of civilian panic and one secondary character’s suicide aria, the prince tells Turandot his name willingly and she falls in love with him all of a sudden. The opera ends with her announcing to her people, “His name is Love!”
Fun fact: Puccini died with Turandot unfinished, so one of his students finished writing the last act. You can tell. Although, as the maestro explained to us at the reception before the show, the whole suddenly-in-love thing is also pretty typical “because it’s opera.” A lot of his sentences summarizing this show for us ended with “because it’s opera.” Which I think is the best explanation for opera plots I’ve ever heard.
My favorite subjects to sketch during the show were the three wise men
And Princess Turandot herself
When the line “No man shall ever possess me” came up in the opera, I thought, man, that would be a great line to have in your OKCupid profile. But I don’t have an OKCupid account anymore, so naturally I spent the rest of the performance thinking about what Princess Turandot’s OKCupid profile would look like.
I’m just gonna leave you with that tonight.
I am cold, proud, and homicidal.
No man shall possess me
What I’m doing with my life
Exploring terrifying new fashion, watching reality television
I spend a lot of time thinking about
The moral implications of preserving yellowface in modern performances of opera from the 1920s
You should message me if
You like riddles LOL
MN Opera’s Turandot is in town for one week only. For more information, click here.