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Riddle Me This, Riddle Me That

April 14, 2009

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    April 14, 2009
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    Opera Carolina News

Riddle Me This, Riddle Me That

Charlotte, NC - Who is the greatest riddler of all time? Batman’s nemesis, The Riddler? The Egyptian sphinx? Or was it Turandot, Puccini’s coldhearted princess? Despite their mind-numbing riddles, each of these riddlers finally meets their match. In Opera Carolina’s production of Turandot, “The Unknown Prince” ends Princess Turandot’s reign of terror, proving that love – and a little wit – conquers all.

To avenge her murdered ancestor, Princess Lou-Ling, who was slain by a conquering prince, Princess Turandot swears off men and sentences to death any gentleman caller who cannot answer correctly her three riddles: What is born each night and dies each dawn? What flickers red and warm like a flame, yet is not fire? And, what is like ice but burns? With their incorrect answers, suitor after suitor meets a tragic death. However, when “The Unknown Prince,” Calàf, first lays eyes on the beautiful Turandot he knows he must have her. To her first riddle he answers, “Hope.” To the second, “Blood.” And to the final riddle, Prince Calàf triumphantly cries, “Turandot!” Having answered the questions correctly, Turandot will now be his; but seeing how adamantly his betrothed begs her father not to abandon her to a stranger, Prince Calàf generously offers a riddle of his own: If Turandot can learn his name by dawn, he will forfeit his life.

The Princess then proclaims that no one in Beijing will sleep until she learns the stranger’s name. She seizes Prince Calàf’s father and his servant, Liù, who is in love with Calàf. To protect her master, Liù cries out that she alone knows the stranger’s name and, after being tortured through the night, remains silent. Turandot, impressed by Liù’s loyalty, asks her secret. “Love,” is Liù’s reply as she kills herself with a dagger. Turandot, thwarted by Liù’s love, confronts Calàf who at once takes her into his arms. Knowing physical love for the first time, Turandot submits to the Prince, who finally tells her his name. Turandot then faces her people and announces the name of the stranger, her betrothed – Love.


Turandot will be performed at the Belk Theater of the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center April 16 at 7:30 p.m., April 18 at 8:00 p.m. & April 19 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are available by calling 704.372.1000 or visit us at http://www.operacarolina.org/. Full cast listings and bios are available at Opera Carolina Cast Bios. To download images of this production please visit Opera Carolina Media Photos. Current images available include headshots, production photos, and the Opera Carolina logo.

Turandot is sung in Italian with projected English titles and is recommended for G audiences. All performances feature the Opera Carolina Chorus and the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. This production is made possible by Presenting Sponsors Margaret and Price Zimmermann, and The Hearst Corporation. Principal Artists sponsored by Drs. Ki-Hyun and Sun Shin Chun. Additional support provided by Duke Energy, Faison, U.S. Airways, and Blue Restaurant & Bar. Media support provided by The Charlotte Observer and WTVI. Consistently appearing in The Charlotte Observer’s “101 Things to Do in Charlotte,” check Opera Carolina off the list and be a part of the 2008/2009 season!