The Operavox series has been very interesting. Having six operas at only half-an-hour and animated was something that could have gone wonderfully or completely wrong, but with all 6 of the operas adapted for this series it was luckily former. All of them range from decent(The Magic Flute, the spoken voice acting let it down I thought) to outstanding(Rigoletto). This animated Turandot is very powerful, and it helps that Turandot is a powerful opera as well. It may not be my favourite Puccini- Tosca- but since it was the first opera I sang in the chorus for I have an immense fondness for it. As much as I loved this animation, I don't think it is without its flaws. I could have done without some of the melodramatic gesturing, especially with Calaf, while Ping, Pong and Pang are very strongly characterised their roles are abridged so we see a menacing side but not so much a droll side(it is these that make them scene stealers), and while I can understand why it was so the omission of Signor Ascolta and Non Piangere Liu was a shame. However, the traditional animation is very striking(Turandot is suitably beautiful and icy), a similar style to that of The Magic Flute but with a more oriental touch if just lacking the nuances of the puppetry style of Rigoletto. The orchestra give Puccini's wonderful music its essential power and poignancy and the chorus are musical and vocally vibrant(diction not always clear though).
Unlike Carmen, Magic Flute and Barber of Seville- the last is not usually but was for this series- and like Rigoletto and Rhinegold, the music is entirely sung and all the better for it, as it is a through-composed score. The singing is excellent, Jane Eaglen has a tendency to darken vowels in the passaggio but her middle register is of great beauty and her high notes ring out if purer than those of most Turandots. She makes Turandot imperiously chilling as she ought to. With Calaf, Edmund Barham not only displays a lyrical approach to his singing but also evidence that he has the heft for it, as Calaf is I think the most difficult of the Puccini tenor roles they were needed. He is appropriately heroic and his high notes are spot on with no hint of strain. Janice Watson is a truly moving Liu, a role she's perfect for, her voice has a clear and bright sound that has sensitivity and not an ounce of edginess. Her death aria is very heartfelt. Richard Van Allan's Timur embodies sonority and nobility, one of those rich voices that makes you wish that he had more to sing. Neal Davies' role is small but immediately makes you want to carry on watching, such is his complete command of the music and authority of character. Ping, Pang and Pong are characterised strongly, Ping has a more tenor-ish timbre than usual but has so much authority you don't care.
Overall, very powerful animated version of a great opera. 8.5/10 Bethany Cox
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