There are several markedly problems with this production, and right from the start:
Beginning with static stage movements' chorus is halved left and right with no purpose in their movements, reminiscent of a high school amateur play setting and gestures.
Right from the start it also becomes painfully obvious that Calaf (Marco Berti, Tenor), has no stage presentation and looks like a barrel walking on two legs - a walking barrel: too fat, thick, barely moves across the stage, and for no obvious reason they dressed him like a Roman soldier.
OK, one would say, if only his voice would possess a golden `klang', flexibility, an elaborate expression - but no, it does not have any of those:
The voice is too wobbly at times; it struggles to reach, hit, and stay with the higher notes, has no `hero' sound to it, and has no flexibility of phrase. Sorry; this is a third class tenor inserted into in a production which aspires to become a Blu-ray land mark.
The old Timur (Tsymbalyuk) is fine, although he possesses a strange vibrato tremolo not heard too often from an Italian cultivated bass voice (actually, he is Russian which might explain this enigma).
The slave girl Liu (Alexia Voulgaridou) sings fine, the voice is just a tad too old for the young slave girl roll and sounds too dramatic. No comparison with the Leona Mitchell (for the Metropolitan) in this roll, and certainly no comparison with the excellent childish-like (vocally and visually) young sparkling voice of Cecilia Gasdia for the `Arena di Verona' production.
And: Chain Kaige staging does this bizarre thing amongst other things:
He strips off the mystery of Turandot's figure and reveals her too soon `in broad day light so to speak: her first entry is from amongst the stage public - carrying a man's helmet on her head like a Wagnerian Walkure figure (it's only when she removes the helmet and exposes her long hair, that one see it is the `princes Turandot'. still, at these moments she looks too much like a Wagnerian Brunhilde the walkure, and much less than Turandot the mystery figure.
Watching the emperor in Chain Kaige staging of Turandot, is like watching a drunken Bacchus: The Kaige staging portrays him as drunk Roman figure from the Nero era: simply drunk and busy drinking...The choice of an actor/singer for the emperor is sorely wrong here: The face and the voice of the actor chosen are much too young (Javier Aguillo) This `old' emperor has no gray hair, just a full dark brown crest of hair and a full dark beard (stupid approach)...
The Aguillo voice (in the roll of the old emperor) is totally misplaced:
The voice is fresh, it is a young tenor voice that tries to pass here as old where the roll asks for a true old frail voice coming from an older actor who would act and look old. The stage manager approach here is not trustworthy (and what is the wisdom behind this choice? Is it just for the sake of being different?)
One should turn to the Metropolitan DVD with the veteran old emperor portrayal of Hugues Cuenod, to see, hear and understand how this role should be performed.
Turandot (Maria Gulenghina) is sung ALMOST to perfection but not quite; Maria Gulenghina has difficulties in approaching the trumpet-like force sound in the high notes. True, she gets those notes but does so with difficulty - and ones nailed, she gets off them in a hurry as quick as she can before something in the vocal-cords will give in or crack. Make no mistake: This is no Ghena Dimitrova (Turandot of La Scala and the Arena de Verona), and she is not close even to the superb Eva Marton - the Turandot for the James Levine and the Metropolitan opera in Franco Zeffirelli staging.
True, Maria Gulenghina's voice sounds a bit like Dimitrova at the middle and lower-range, but it does not have the power reserves Dimitrova possess, nor has she the clarity-silvery trumpet-voice of Eva Marton in this roll.
(Maria Gulenghina is favorably remembered here from her Metropolitan performances of Verdi's Lady Macbeth from several years ago but even then she had some difficulties with the top register!).
The conducting is classical for Zubin Mehta, though he has achieved greater heights for the Decca recording of the late Seventies with Sutherland, Pavarotti and Monserrat Caballe (would it be that he felt that this is not the case for a total commitment?).
The staging and the illumination on this Blu-ray recording is quite rich and colorful, the costumes too, but stage movements of the participants are static and at times naive and disappointing...The whole setting lacks tension, drama and purpose the way Franco Zeffirelli's mesmerizing staging for the Metropolitan has where excitement, fluidity, drama and drive are the assets.
From the vocal point of view one would do much, much better buying the Levine/Zeffirelli/Metropolitan DVD, with Eva Marton, Leona Mitchell, Flacido Dominigo, or one should get the rare and hard to come by DVD of the `Arena di Verona' Turandot with the luminous superb Ghena Dimitrova, Martinucci, Cecilia Gasdia, and Ivo vinvo.