Classical & Opera: Eye Sight

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The Independent Culture
Of famous unfinished last works, Puccini's Chinese-set Turandot has to be one of the classic examples of the genre. The composer nearly reached the final bar stave... but not quite, at the time of his death in 1924. It was left to his young protege, Franco Afano, to take up from where the master left off by scoring the last triumphant duet between Princess Turandot and her Prince, The Calaf. It's all achieved by a timely reprise of "Nessun Dorma". Puccini had already laboured for the best part of four years to bring Turandot to fruition. But the results are more than worth it, for what is achieved is perhaps the world's last truly grand opera - a riot of orchestral colour and eastern timbres. By turns passionate and savage, Turandot is not the easiest opera to stage, yet Andrei Serban's production for the Royal Opera does it proud. This is full-throttle Puccini, with lavish costumes, evocative lighting and large- scale choreography. Not that the human drama at the centre of the tale is neglected. Sharon Sweet returns to the title role with Nuccia Focile and Angela Gheorghiu sharing Liu. Giuseppe Giacomini is the Calaf and Willard White sings Timur. The result should be world-class Puccini.

'Turandot' is at London's Royal Opera House (0171-304 4000) from 10 Dec