The History of Turandot. Part II
Puccini saw a German version of Carlo Gozzi’s 1762 play Turandotte and mentioned it to the playwright Renato Simoni. Simoni, working with Giuseppe Adami, soon put a number of versions of a libretto forward to Puccini, though it took some time before any were firmly accepted.
When eventually they were, and roughly halfway through composition, Puccini suffered something of a crisis of confidence, calling on major shifts of dramatic and structural emphasis. Even when these were ironed out to Puccini’s satisfaction, further work on the piece proved slow.
By September 1924 Puccini and the conductor Toscanini were talking about plans for the première of Turandot. Soon afterwards an irritating sensation in Puccini’s larynx, which had become persistently more acute, was diagnosed by a Florentine specialist as throat cancer. Puccini was urged to go to Brussels where a new X-ray treatment was being tried out. He went; an operation followed, yet a few days later Puccini suffered a heart attack, dying on November 29th 1924.
Turandot still lay unfinished; and the opera was duly completed, following sketches left by Puccini, by his young disciple Franco Alfano.
To be continued
Turandot by Xue Snen and Hongbo Zhao