Turandot by Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924) is most nearly based upon Turandot by Carlo Gozzi that is in turn based on a story from the 12th-century epic The Seven Beauties by Persian poet Nizami about a princess Turan-Dokht how was the daughter of Turan. Set in China, the Prince Calaf, falls in love with aloof Princess Turandot. In order to obtain permission to marry Turandot, any suitor must solve three riddles correctly, and any wrong answer will result in death. The Calaf passes the test, but Turandot still refuses to marry him. He offers her a way out: if she is able to learn his true identity before the next day dawns, he will sacrifice his own life.

Turandot

Pictured here are Turandot, the Calaf, and his slave Liù. Design by Meredith Eliassen, 2016.

Turandot, with a libretto by Giuseppe Adami (1878-1946) and Renato Simoni (1875-1952), was unfinished at the time of Puccini’s death in 1924 and was completed by Franco Alfano (1875-1954) two years later. It premiered on April 25, 1926.