Jennifer Wilson / Andrea Bocelli / Zubin Mehta / Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana

Puccini: Turandot

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This 2015 version of Puccini's Turandot has been cannily marketed and has sold well. The marketers had ideal material to work with. Those coming to the opera from the crossover pop recordings of tenor Andrea Bocelli probably needed little more motivation to purchase the album than his name on the cover: he can turn out a crowd even in places where opera is very rare, such as Indonesia. Opera aficionados, by contrast, may be attracted by the presence of conductor Zubin Mehta, who led the legendary 1972 recording of Turandot with Luciano Pavarotti and Joan Sutherland, and here returns to the work in old age. And serious devotees of the operatic scene will be drawn by a lead singer who's under-represented on recordings: the American soprano Jennifer Wilson in the title role. As it happens, all three legs of this triad hold up reasonably well. Wilson, a Wagnerian soprano, is indubitably a stronger voice than Bocelli, but it is to the tenor's credit that he is not overwhelmed; taking on opera in middle age, he has wisely not tried to force his voice into areas where it won't naturally go, and he exudes real enthusiasm in the role of Calaf, the Persian prince and romantic lead. Mehta brings energy throughout to this live performance with the Orquestra de la Comunitat Valencia, or perhaps one should say performances: the booklet, although it finds space to credit Bocelli's clothier, gives no performance details. It may be that several evenings of music were spliced together to present Bocelli in the best light, but if so, the joints are not obvious. Anyhow, nothing gets in the way of the rest of the cast: Wilson is a powerful Turandot, and there are strong characterizations in the smaller roles of Ping, Pang, and Pong, and all the rest. Recommended; sample Bocelli's "Nessun dorma" if you want an idea of his sound here.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 5:41
2 7:17
3 4:57
4 1:35
5 6:11
6 2:30
7 5:20
8 3:43
9 3:39
10 4:34
11 1:05
12 3:18
13 3:25
14 1:40

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 6:09
2 6:45
3 4:26
4 4:02
5 3:39
6 7:13
7 7:36
8 2:55
9 4:45
10 3:14
11 2:56
12 3:40
13 2:10
14 2:24
blue highlight denotes track pick