Turandot is a 2004 Italian animated film that was based on the 1926 opera of the same name in three acts by Italian composer, Giacomo Puccini and the fairy tale of the same name by Italian author, Carlo Gozzi.
The dramatic fairy tale was told in the libretto by Adamo and Simoni for Puccini’s last opera, that forms the essential drama of this movie aimed at young people, but not only them. Using appropriate background music, the movie takes just some significant excerpts from the opera, the main romances and to develop the story through an appropriate dialogue. A beautiful romantic fairy tale, whose bizarre characters and wonderful music give life to a show assured of success.
The plot, obviously developed with a constant irony, has been elaborated to make it more accessible to the general public whom it is aimed at, still remaining faithful to the original meaning. As everyone knows, Turandot is Emperor Altun’s mischievous daughter. Her father wants to see her married soon with a good match. But she is a young woman who will not give herself to anyone who cannot pass the test which she put them through.
Thus Altun decrees that Princess Turandot will be married to the first man of royal blood to solve three puzzles posed by her. But whoever wishes to take part in the test runs the terrible risk of losing his head if he cannot find the correct answers.
The heads of many aspirants to the princess’ precious hand roll. The last one is the Prince of Persia. Among the crowd in the square to see his sad end is Calaf, who is also a prince since he is the son of Timur, a Tartar king defeated by the Emperor Altun. In fact, Calaf hid in Peking after the loss of his kingdom. When the Prince of Persia is executed, Turandot appears once more to the people of Peking in all her cruelty. But she seems like an angel of beauty to Calaf and he falls madly in love with her.
So Calaf, to the desperation of his family, and especially Liù, the young Tartar slave who loves him, climbs the steps of the palace and bangs the gong placed there for anyone wishing to challenge the princess in the test of the riddles. Ping, Pong and Pang, the Emperor’s three clumsy ministers, try to dissuade him in vain.
The Emperor Altun is amused but at the same time annoyed by Turandot’s arrogance and hopes that finally the new suitor will be able to solve her riddles. When the day arrives for Calaf to try the test,tension is palpable. The square in front of the palace is overcrowded with people and the beautiful but cold Turandot appears before the people once again, sure to defeat her new competitor.
But Calaf solves the riddles! The crowd is greatly amazed and jubilant. Turandot, astonished, asks Altun not to give her in marriage to the winner. But the Emperor must keep his word and cannot give in to his daughter’s insistence. However, the winner is generous. Up to now he has not revealed his name, but if Turandot can find it out before sunrise, he will renounce his victory and die.
Turandot does everything possible to find out the winner’s name. Turandot’s soldiers capture Liù and torture her, in vain because her love for Calaf gives her the strength to resist every torment. So as to be sure not to be forced to reveal the name of the prince she loves, she seizes the dagger from one of her torturers and kills herself. At this point Calaf is overcome by grief. He reveals his name to Turandot and throws himself on her mercy. But Liù’s extreme sacrifice has softened Turandot’s heart. She goes to her father and declares that she knows the real name of the stranger who solved her riddles: his name is love. Finally, she has found her destiny in Calaf.
- Princess Turandot - voiced by Birgit Nilsson
- Prince Calaf - voiced by Jussi Bjoerling
- Liù - voiced by Renata Tebaldi
- The Mandarin - voiced by Mario Sereni