Who’d spend $1m on a new Turandot?

Who’d spend $1m on a new Turandot?


norman lebrecht

July 19, 2015

An everyday story of opera life in the USA:

“It needs to have spectacle,” said Renaud Doucet, director and choreographer of Cincinnati Opera’s production of “Turandot,” opening Saturday in Music Hall. “But at the same time, it’s important for us that we are not focusing on the spectacle, but on the emotion.”

Doucet and scenic designer André Barbe are the creators of a new, $1 million production of “Turandot,” a co-production of Minnesota Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Utah Opera and Seattle Opera.

More here.

turandot cinc
Photo: David Bachman, Pittsburgh Opera

And on the other hand…. read here.


  • william osborne says:

    A million dollars for two performances in Cincinnati, though the costs are being shared by 5 cities which comes to $200k each – a paltry production sum for large metro areas that should have major houses. Looking at the rankings of these 5 cities for opera performances per year, we see America’s cultural poverty:

    Cincinnati 366th
    Minnapolois 257th
    Pittsburgh 247th
    Salt Lake City 325th

    Hope they get their $200k’s worth. More of the sadly fraudulent façade that is American opera. And they all remain silent.

    • James of Thames says:

      Three performances of Turandot are scheduled for Cincinnati, not two. I wish there could be more, of this and other operas, but Cincinnati Opera seems to know best how much they are capable of presenting. I’m grateful that they are there at all.

      • william osborne says:

        The above linked article lists two performances, July 29 and 31. Must be an error. I notice that Philadelphia, Washington, and LA often only do 3 performances of a production.

  • Patrick says:


  • RW2013 says:

    If their recent dreadful Arabella in Köln is anything to go by, Doucet will do anything to distract from the fact that he doesn’t know what to do with the singers on stage, and therefore will want to create some kind of visual spectacle so that we don’t notice his lack of directorial talent.

  • La Donna del Largo says:

    I wonder what you propose as an alternative. The opera done in a concert version? The opera performed on threadbare hired sets so that the audience can snicker at the wrinkles in the sky over Peking?

    This solution seems both practical and artistically sound, i.e., to invest in a rich-looking and sturdy physical production with the costs shared among five companies and amortized across (probably) 10 seasons or more before the sets and costumes need to be replaced.

    The real complaint here, I think, is that these opera companies made the mistake of programming Puccini’s “Turandot” instead of the far superior version by Mahler.

  • Michael Hudson says:

    LA Opera’s Ring Cycle cost many, many Millions of $$$$ for only a total of 3 cycles.
    The math works out to something like $3 million per performance !!!