Opera: Puccini's Turandot

12.12.2014 (Fri)
13.12.2014 (Sat)
13.12.2014 (Sat)
14.12.2014 (Sun)
Concert Hall, Hong Kong City Hall
$630, $460, $300, $150*
Buy Tickets

*The sightline of certain seats may be restricted


An Opera in 3 Acts

Performed in Italian with Chinese and English Surtitles

A Musica Viva Production

About the Programme


Turandot is the last opera written by Giacomo Puccini.  The libretto was written by dramatist Renato Simoni in collaboration with the poet Giuseppe Adami.  The Princess Turandot will only marry a suitor of royal blood who can answer three riddles set by her.  Anyone who fails will be beheaded.  Calaf, heir to the throne of Tartary, successfully answers all three riddles.  But Turandot now reneges on her promise.  Calaf offers to release her and to die at her hand if she can discover his name before dawn.  Finally, Turandot is deeply moved by Calaf’s genuine affections. 

When Puccini died in November 1924, he left the final duet and concluding scene of Turandot unfinished.  Franco Alfano was engaged to complete the opera based on the sketches and notes left by Puccini.  The Alfano ending has been performed as an integral part of Puccini’s masterpiece ever since its first appearance in 1926.  The important contemporary Italian composer Luciano Berio was commissioned by the House of Ricordi, Puccini’s publisher, to compose a new ending for the opera in 2002.  This Berio version has been performed by the Los Angeles Opera, at the Amsterdam Muziektheater, the Salzburg Festival and other important productions.  Musica Viva will perform both the Alfano (in the first and third performances) and Berio (in the second and last) endings in this production.  This will not only be the Asian premiere of Berio’s effort, but also the first time ever of both endings being presented side by side in consecutive performances of the same production.

The production is directed by Lo Kingman and conducted by Lio Kuokman.  Lio has been recently appointed assistant conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra.  He is the first Chinese conductor to assume this position.  He is also the winner of this year’s Evgeny Svetlanov Competition in France.  The production features a team of world-renowned opera stars who have sung with the Metropolitan Opera of New York, Chicago Lyric Opera, National Opera in London and some of the most prestigious companies world-wide, performing with excellent artists from Hong Kong.




Act 1

A square in front of the imperial palace, in ancient China, in legendary times.  A court official of high standing reads a proclamation which states that the Princess Turandot, daughter of the Emperor Altoum, shall marry the first man of royal blood who solves three riddles set by her.  Any suitor who fails to guess the answers will be beheaded.  The heads of many unsuccessful suitors are already impaled on poles erected on the palace walls.  That night at moonrise, the latest unfortunate victim, the Prince of Persia, will be executed.


The crowd of people in the square is greatly excited by the proclamation.  Some of them try to force their way to the palace to call out the chief executioner Pu Tin-pao.  They are roughly handled by the guards and in the confused struggle a blind old man is knocked to the ground.  He is Timur, the banished King of Tartary, who is accompanied by the faithful slave-girl Liu.  A young man comes forward to help them, and he recognizes the old king as his long lost father.  The young man is Calaf, he too being pursued by the enemy who had usurped his father’s throne.  The old king describes Liu’s care and affection, and Calaf asks her why she has chosen to share so much suffering.  Liu answers that it is because one day, at the palace, Calaf smiled at her.


Meanwhile, the crowd watch with excitement the executioner’s assistants sharpening a number of scimitar blades on the grindstone.  The blades are then taken away for the executioner to choose for use later that night.  The crowd now invokes the moon to rise so that the execution can take place.  Soon the latest victim, the Prince of Persia, appears and the mood of the crowd turns to pity.  They appeal to the Princess for mercy, while Calaf cries out his wish to see her so that he may curse her for her cruelty.  Turandot at last appears.  With one decisive gesture, she orders the executioner to proceed.  The crowd follows the procession, leaving Calaf, Timur and Liu alone in the square.


At his first sight of the cold and beautiful Turandot, Calaf falls madly in love.  He is eager to strike the great gong to announce himself as the next suitor, but is stopped by the sudden appearance of the three ministers of the court: Ping, the Grand Chancellor; Pang, the General Purveyor; and Pong, the Royal Cook.  These three try to dissuade Calaf from gambling his own head.  Timur reminds him that no one has succeeded in solving the riddles.  Liu too adds her moving appeal to Calaf not to let his father die in exile and make her lose the memory of his smile.  Calaf responds by asking Liu to look after her old master should adverse fate befall him.  Calling Turandot’s name, he strikes the gong.


Act 2

Ping, Pang and Pong meet to lament the state of affairs in the empire and especially in the imperial city, where beheadings are becoming more and more frequent.  They discuss preparations for the wedding should the new suitor win, and for the funeral should he lose.  They indulge in nostalgic longing for a peaceful life in their native country instead of wasting time and talent on the sacred books.  They even imagine Turandot conquered by love and enjoying nuptial happiness, thus restoring peace and dignity to great China; but they soon realize that this is day-dreaming.  So the three ministers prepare themselves for the great ceremony and trial of the riddles.


The court assembles, watched by the crowd.  Emperor Altoum makes an effort to dissuade Calaf, but the young prince repeatedly demands the right to face his test.  Turandot herself appears in unbelievable magnificence.  She tells her audience how ages ago an ancestress of hers was carried off by the Prince of an invading tribe and ravished.  In revenge, she has vowed to take the life of any man who dares to desire her.  Reminding Calaf that no one will ever possess her, Turandot asks the three riddles, one by one.  Each time, Calaf solves the problem successfully, giving the answers: hope, blood, and Turandot.  The entire court and crowd burst into joyous song and jubilation.


Defeated, Turandot pleads with her father not to give her to the stranger.  The emperor insists on keeping the sacred oath, and his sentiment is echoed by all those present.  Reassuring the princess that he only wants her as a bride in love, Calaf offers to release her from the oath and to die at her hand if before dawn she can discover his name.  The emperor accepts this offer and hopes that by sunrise, he can call the stranger his son.


Act 3

Teams of heralds are going around the imperial city proclaiming Turandot’s royal command that no one must sleep that night.  Under pain of death, the stranger’s name must be revealed before morning.  Waiting outside the palace, Calaf asks the night to vanish and the stars to extinguish, for he is certain of his victory at dawn.


The three ministers and the crowd approach Calaf with bribes of beautiful girls, treasures and power in distant kingdoms in exchange for his immediate departure or his name.  Calaf wants nothing but Turandot.  At that moment, the guards brought in Timur and Liu.  Turandot also appears and orders that the old man be made to speak.  Liu then comes forward to claim that she alone knows the stranger’s name; but it is her greatest joy to keep it secret.  When asked by Turandot what gives her the strength to resist even torture, Liu explains that it is love which is the supreme gift she can offer to her young master.  She then seizes a dagger and kills herself.  Liu’s death is deeply mourned by Timur, and the saddened crowd follow her body as it is carried off.*


Left alone, Calaf reproaches Turandot for her cruelty; but tells her that her coldness is false.  He tears off her veil and kisses her passionately.  Stunned and defeated, Turandot admits that she both loves and fears Calaf, and begs him to go.  The young man instead puts his own life in her hands, announcing that his name is Calaf, son of Timur.


Dawn approaches.  Turandot triumphantly orders Calaf to face the court and the people with her.  Before Emperor Altoum, she declares that she has discovered the stranger’s name.  And his name is Love!


The crowd express their great joy in a hymn to love.


* When Puccini died on 29 November 1924, he had written all the music of Turandot, including full orchestration, up to the end of the scene of Liu’s death.  He left 36 pages of sketches for the remaining scenes of the opera with many annotations regarding his musical intentions and orchestration.  Franco Alfano, at that time Director of the Turin Conservatory of Music, was commissioned to complete the opera based on these sketches.  The Alfano version was then revised for performance in accordance with the wishes of the first conductor of the work, Arturo Toscanini.  This revised version is the generally available published version, which is being used for the first and third performances of the present production.


In 2001, the House of Ricordi, Puccini’s publisher, commissioned a new ending by the distinguished contemporary composer Luciano Berio, President and Director of the National Academy Santa Cecilia of Rome.  This new ending was completed in 2002 and first performed in Los Angeles and Amsterdam.  It is being presented in the second and final performances of this Musica Viva production.



Running time of the each performance is about 2 hours and 30 minutes with two intermissions of 15 minutes each.

Audiences are strongly advised to arrive punctually.  No latecomers will be admitted until a suitable break in the programme.


The content of this programme does not represent the view of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.

About the Performer


Music Director

Lio Kuokman

Producer & Director

Lo Kingman

Chamber Orchestra

Hong Kong Virtuosi


The Opera Society of Hong Kong Chorus


Michael Ma


Raymond Fu


Thomas Brown


Ricky Chan


Mandy Tam


Peter Li


Turandot (Soprano)

Jee-hye Han(1)(3)/HelenTodd(2)(4)

Calaf (Tenor)

Raul Melo(1)(3)/John Hudson(2)(4)

Liu (Soprano)

Eudora Brown(1)(3)/Song Yuan-Ming(2)/Louise Kwong(4)

Timur (Bass)

Freddie Tong

Ping (Baritone)

Sammy Chien

Pong (Tenor)

Chen Yong

Pang (Tenor)

Christopher Leung

Altoum (Tenor)

Frankie Liu

Mandarin (Baritone)

Isaac Droscha(1)(2)(4)/ Pong Chung-lam(3)


Lio Kuokman


Lio Kuokman has been appointed Assistant Conductor by the great historic Philadelphia Orchestra with effect from the start of the current season in September 2014. Shortly after the announcement of this appointment, the young maestro was declared winner of the Paris Evgeny Svetlanor International Competition held in June 2014.  The prize includes a conducting engagement with the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra of France. Praised by the Philadelphia Inquirer as a ‘startling conducting talent’, Lio has worked extensively as conductor in both the symphonic and operatic genres.  Recent appearances have included the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Mann Center, the National Arts Center Orchestra in Ottawa, Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, Pan Asia Symphony Orchestra, Hong Kong Virtuosi, Taipei Philharmonic, and the Macao Orchestra.

Throughout Asia and the United States, his opera repertoire flourishes having conducted productions of Don GiovanniLe nozze di FigaroCarmen, and for Musica Viva Hong Kong,  L’elisir d’amore,  La fille du régiment, Lucia di Lammermoor,  Cavalleria Rusticana , I Pagliacci and Rigoletto.   A proponent of contemporary works he has also premiered Chan Hing-yan’s chamber opera, Heart of Coral, commissioned and produced by the Hong Kong Arts Festival.

His additional festival appearances have included performances at the Beijing International Music Festival, Cabrillo New Music Festival, Great Mountain Music Festival in Korea, Hong Kong Arts Festival, and Macau International Music Festival.  

As a keyboard artist of note, Lio has performed as soloist with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Camerata Salzburg, Romania Bacau Philharmonic, China National Symphony Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and Shanghai Symphony Orchestra.  He has performed with members of Les Arts Florissants at New York’s Lincoln Center and is a founding member and President of the Macao Chamber Music Association.

Born in Macao, he began his musical training at The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts from which he graduated with first class honours in piano performance.  He continued his graduate studies receiving a master’s degree from the Juilliard School followed by diplomas in conducting from the Curtis Institute and the New England Conservatory of Music.  For his contributions to the development of arts and culture, Lio has received honours from both governments of Hong Kong and Macao.


(1)12/12, 7:45pm    (2)13/12, 2:30pm    (3)13/12, 7:45pm    (4)14/12, 2:30pm

Lo Kingman

Producer & Director

Returning from Italy where he worked at the Opera of Rome and the Morlacchi Theatre of Perugia in the 1960s, Lo Kingman has since written, directed and designed over 180 stage productions ranging from opera, drama, dance to musical theatre with performances in Asia, Europe and America.  Over the years, he has made significant contributions not only in the performing arts but also in the fields of higher education and public service.  He was Director of The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts from 1993 to 2004.  He has been the recipient of numerous awards and honours from international academic and arts institutions as well as from governments of Hong Kong, Britain, Italy and France.  In 2008, he participated in the creation of Musica Viva, an organization dedicated to nurturing young artists and extending their performing opportunities in operas and concerts.


Jee-hye Han


Korean opera singer Jee-hye Han has emerged as one of the most exciting dramatic sopranos of her generation.  At the age of 28, she sang her first performance of the extremely demanding role of Turandot in Puccini’s posthumous masterpiece at the Hungary State Opera in Budapest – a singular sensation in the world of opera.  She has since performed in many prestigious houses with a repertoire comprising works by Beethoven, Wagner, Verdi and Puccini.  In 2009, Han won the second prize of both the Tagliavini Competition in Austria and the Dong Ah Competition in South Korea, as well as the Audience Prize of the Belvedere Competition in Vienna.  In 2010, she won the first prize at the Concours International Opera de Marseille.  After completing her series of 12 performances as Turandot in Vienna this November, Han will immediately travel to Hong Kong to assume the same difficult role in this Musica Viva production with the Alfano ending.


Helen Todd


After obtaining her Master of Music degree at the University of Cincinati Conservatory, Helen Todd received her operatic training as a young artist at the Pittsburgh Opera Center.  She came first in a member of singing competitions including a Metropolitan Opera regional competition and a Liederkranz Foundation award of New York City.  Todd began her career as a lyric coloratura soprano achieving national recognition with her portrayal of Violetta in La Traviata and Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute with Minnesota Opera where she also debuted the role of Madame Mao Tse-tung in John Adam’s Nixon in China.  After an active period performing with New York City Opera, Canadian Opera and a number of regional companies, Todd has developed a repertoire of powerful dramatic roles such as Turandot, which she has prepared for performance in Pittsburgh, Chicago and Hong Kong in the Berio version.


Raul Melo


Raul Melo is a celebrated performer in the Americas, Europe and Asia.  He won the ‘Best Lyric Tenor’ prize in the Alfredo Kraus Competition in 1992 and made his Metropolitan Opera (the Met) debut as a principal tenor in 2004.  He has sung a wide range of tenor lead roles at the Met and with all the major opera companies in the United States.  In Europe, he has performed with State Operas of Berlin, Hamburg, Stuttgart, Frankfurt and Dresden among others in Germany; Zurich in Switzerland; Parma, Naples and Bologna in Italy; and Oslo in Norway.  In Asia, he has sung in Tokyo, Seoul, Shanghai and Macao.  In South America, he has starred at the great Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  Raul will sing his favourite role of Calaf in Musica Viva’s production with the Alfano ending in Hong Kong.


John Hudson


John Hudson studied at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London.  In 1993, he made his acclaimed debut with English National Opera where he subsequently sang most of the important principal tenor roles in works by Mozart, Donizetti, Verdi, Bizet and Puccini.  After performing with Welsh National Opera as guest artist, Hudson made his debut with Scottish Opera in 1999 and gradually assumed more dramatic roles mainly in the Italian and French repertoire.  His performances have been highly praised by critics of The Times and Opera magazine for the thrilling quality of his upper register and his intelligent interpretations.  He is considered one of Britain’s most powerful dramatic tenors of the present generation.


Eudora Brown


A three-time vocal fellow at the Tanglewood Music Centre, Eudora Brown made her debut on short notice as Beatrice in Berlioz’s Beatrice et Benedict in a Santa Fe Opera production.  She assumed the role at dress rehearsal and completed the run to standing ovation and sold-out performances.  Previously a mezzo-soprano, Brown re-emerged as a soprano ideally suited for the substantial lyrical roles created by Mozart, Wagner, Verdi and Puccini.  Having sung with Dallas Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Boston Baroque and Washington Concert Opera, she was engaged to perform in Orvieto and Porto Erole, Italy, and appear as a featured artist on television RAI.  As a concert soloist, she has appeared with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Seiji Ozawa performing works by Bach, Handel and Beethoven.


Song Yuan-ming


Born in Jinan, China, Song Yuan-ming went to study music in Vienna at the age of 16.  She graduated from the University of Music and Performing Arts of Vienna with a Master of Arts degree and a final diploma with unanimous distinction in vocal and opera studies in 2009.  She proceeded to win the second prize and special award for best soprano at the 13th International Singing Competition Ferruccio Tagliavini in Austria, second prize at the Hilde Zadek International Competition in Vienna, and the first prize and special award for the best singer at the 44th Dvorak Competition in the Czech Republic, all in 2009.  A year later, she won the First Prize at the prestigious Toulouse International Competition in France.  Song made her operatic debut as Donna Anna in Don Giovanni at the Schönbrunn Palace Theatre, Vienna, and hence embarked on a professional career that brings her from Austria to China and South Korea.  She performs extensively at the Opera House in Beijing’s National Centre for the Performing Arts.


Louise Kwong


Louise Kwong graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in music from The Chinese University of Hong Kong and received a Post-graduate Diploma with Distinction from the Royal College of Music, London.  She pursued further studies at the Conservatory of Amsterdam.  Kwong is the winner of three prizes at the 18th International Singing Competition Ferruccio Tagliavini held in Austria in 2013: the second prize, the Best Soprano Prize, and the Audience Prize.  She was engaged to sing the role of the Countess in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro in Amsterdam, Sautuzza in Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana produced by Musica Viva Hong Kong, the title role of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas presented by Die Konzertisten, and the role of Xiao Hong in Chan Hing-yan’s Heart of Coral, a chamber opera commissioned by the Hong Kong Arts Festival 2013.


Freddie Tong


Born in Hong Kong and based in the United Kingdom, Freddie Tong studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, where he gained a First Class honours degree, a Master of Music degree and graduated with distinction from the opera course.  Tong’s professional career includes engagements with English National Opera, Kentish Opera, Opera Holland Park, the Royal Albert Hall, Singapore Lyric Opera, Opera Hong Kong, Musica Viva Hong Kong and the Zeist Music Festival of Holland.  His repertoire comprises a wide range of roles in Italian, French, English and German works of the classical, bel canto and romantic periods.  He is in demand as a soloist in oratorios and symphonic-choral concerts.



The presenter reserves the right to replace artists at short notice in the event of the said performer(s)’ indisposition or other unforeseen circumstances.



Concert Hall, Hong Kong City Hall12.12.2014 (Fri)
13.12.2014 (Sat)
13.12.2014 (Sat)
14.12.2014 (Sun)
$630, $460, $300, $150*
Buy Tickets


Tickets available from 13 August onwards at all URBTIX outlets, on Internet, by mobile ticketing app and credit card telephone booking.


Half-price tickets available for senior citizens aged 60 or above, people with disabilities and the minder, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) recipients (Limited tickets for CSSA recipients available on a first-come-first-served basis).


Group Booking Discount

10% off for every purchase of 10 – 19 standard tickets; 15% off for 20 or more standard tickets.


'Great Music’ Package Discount

For each purchase of standard tickets for ‘Opera: Puccini’s Turandot’, ‘The Tallis Scholars’, ‘Los Romeros Guitar Quartet’, ‘Murray Perahia and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields’, ‘When Petals Fall in Serenity ─ Atmospheric Music Theatre by Law Wing-fai’ and ‘Piano Recital by Ivo Pogorelich’: 5% off for any 2 programmes; 10% off for any 3 programmes; 15% off for any 4 programmes or more.


Patrons can enjoy only one of the above discount schemes for each purchase.  Please inform the box office staff at the time of purchase.



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Pre-opera Talk

Exhibition Hall, Hong Kong City Hall13.12.2014 (Sat)
Free Admission


The Irresistible Charm of Puccini's Melodies (Conducted in English and Cantonese)

Speaker: Lo King-man

Free admission on a first-come-first-served basis


Post-opera Talk

Concert Hall, Hong Kong City Hall14.12.2014 (Sun)

Free Admission


Turandot's Ending: Characteristics of the Alfano and Berio Versions (Conducted in Cantonese)

Speaker: Lo King-man