Turandot at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
Radvanovsky’s first entrance, walking down the back stairs to refuse the pardon of the Prince of Persia, was breath-taking for the violence, the strength, and the anger that the soprano managed to imprint in her movements. Turandot’s big moment is her entrance aria in the second act, “In questa reggia.” It is a difficult piece. The tessitura demands both a strong low and high register, dramatic voluminous sections and legato mezza voce all at the same time. Radvanovsky’s voice met all the demands perfectly. Her dark, dry tone with mesmerizing volume and projection shined throughout the aria, navigating constantly between high A and B natural and keeping the fluidity of the line with secure clean attacks of the devilish intervals that Puccini wrote. Radvanovsky’s voice was menacing, dangerous and strong without sounding strident in complicated high lines like “Quel grido e quella morte!” Her voice is so resonant and powerful that she does not need to push the sound to make it dramatic and audible over the forte orchestra. Her voice is always ringing no matter how many instruments or singers are playing at the same time. The two high Cs that the soprano must deliver while the whole choir and orchestra play during “Mi vuol nelle tue braccia a forza, rilutante, fremente?” were thunderous, bright, and perfectly audible. Her voice really sounds as if it is being artificially amplified, however it is not.
The soprano can control her voluminous instrument and makes a wise use of her bel canto technique, previously exhibited in Naples were she sang the three long final scenes of Donizetti’s “Three Queens.” This gives her the ability to sing mezza voce and legato lines like “Principessa Lou Ling…” and sound mysterious and even melancholic. Her singing is a mixture of strength and delicacy. She was powerful and strong during her long final aria in Act Three, contrasting with her vulnerable and fragile side portrayed in “Che è mai di me?” which was sung with exquisite mezza voce.
Radvanovsky offered such a powerful and meaningful characterization both vocally and dramaturgically of the Pice princess” Turandot that it is hard to believe it was her role debut. She truly is one of the greatest sopranos of this generation and her performance of Turandot may well become legendary.