Anna Tomowa-Sintow made her long-awaited debut as "Turandot" in Puccini's opera of the same name at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona in October 1999. Her performances were part of the opening series of "Turandot" at the newly rebuilt Liceu. The artist was frenetically applauded by the press and public alike in her most recent debut as the Chinese princess who, in this production, commits suicide at the end. Starring alongside her were Montserrat Martí, who also gave her role debut as Liù, and Boiko Zvetanov as Calaf. Bertrand de Billy, the new musical director of the Gran Teatre del Liceu, conducted the production, which was staged by Nuria Espert amidst splendid settings and costumes by Ezio Frigerio and Franca Squarciapino.
Notes like tears...
"Among the singers who have succeeded each other and have allowed us to enjoy two experienced Turandots in Puccini's opera - Giovanna Casolla and Eva Marton - , it is Anna Tomowa-Sintow's account of this role that has truly become an event: "If I can interpret Princess Turandot today, it is unquestionably to Herbert von Karajan that I owe this. It is not that the maestro would have entrusted the title role to me: he was far too concerned that I preserve my vocal qualities for the Mozart and Strauss repertoires, and I always followed his advice. But from his teachings I retained that one must begin by studying a score painstakingly before being able to let oneself go. This advice was particularly useful to me for Turandot. Since I no longer sing Mozart, I feel that this Puccini opera is no longer vocally dangerous for me. I have acquired my repertoire gradually, step by step. About ten years ago, I added Borodin's Prince Igor, then the Empress in Die Frau ohne Schatten, Strauss' Die Ägyptische Helena, Norma, Santuzza in Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana, Strauss' Salome (here in Barcelona during the last season) and, finally,
Sieglinde in Wagner's Die Walküre. This project was born during a conversation with Bertrand de Billy, who was designated to conduct the Puccini opera for the reopening of the Liceu. 'Turandot' had been taboo for me until then. I had my doubts. But the mad desire to take part in the reopening of this increasingly renowned theater won over. " Music director Bertrand de Billy affirms: "Anna is a great professional, an artist whom I have admired for many years now, but I did not think she would dare do Turandot. When we discussed this possibility for Barcelona Anna agreed to learn this terrifying role for only three performances. I am infinitely grateful to her. In our version of the finale I know of no other interpreter who is able to respect the pianissimo nuances like her and to portray the radical shift in the character with such emotion."
Le Monde de la Musique, Paris, Georges Gad - December 1999