Not only is Puccini's final opera Turandot among the composer's most popular works, but following The Three Tenors and a certain football contest, it has in "Nessun dorma!" what is almost certainly the best-loved aria in all opera. Written 20 years after Madame Butterfly (1904), Puccini's version of an 800-year-old fairy-tale is set in a legendary Peking and scored on a grand scale, incorporating not only Chinese musical techniques but a vast range of oriental percussion. Puccini draws heavily on the chorus, and as ever makes intense demands on his heroine, to which... Eva Marton rises powerfully, very well complemented by the tenor Michael Sylvester as Calaf. However, what makes this 1994 San Francisco Opera version so enchanting as a visual experience is the realisation by David Hockney, who not only designed the sets and costumes but also directed the production. His vision is highly stylised, richly imagined, atmospheric and very beautiful, and it is a testament to how well this version is directed that much of the original magic is communicated through the confines of a TV screen. --Gary S. DalkinOn the DVD: Other than a well-appointed booklet, and the option to watch with or without subtitles, there are no special features. The 4:3 picture is a major improvement on video, though no doubt due to the original source materials, not as detailed as the best DVDs. The sound is powerful PCM stereo, with a slight tendency to become strident at especially dramatic moments. The layer change is particularly badly done, interrupting the choir in full flow, rather than being placed between tracks. [show more]
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