The Metropolitan Opera HD Live (2006–…): Season 14, Episode 1 - Puccini: Turandot - full transcript

People of Peking!

Attend the edict!

Turandot, the pure, must marry the prince...

...who solves three riddles she herself will ask.

If he enters the trial and is defeated...

...he will be beheaded.

Tonight the Prince of Persia
will bow to his misfortune...

...and when the moon has risen,
he'll kneel before the headsman.

Kill him! Send for the headsman!

Quickly! Call the headsman! Pu-Tin-Pao!

Get back, you rabble!

Don't crush us! Spare us!

My master has fallen!

Who will help me?

My poor master has fallen.
Have pity, please.

Father! My father!

Yes, Father, I have found you.

Your son is here.
Father, I've found you!

We are blessed that our woes...

...are ended by heaven's mercy.

You're alive, my son!

Softly! Our enemies pursue us.

We're still in danger.

I feared you had died, my son.

Dear Father!
I kiss your blessed hands.

Oh, my long lost son.

It's the headsman's assistants.

Slaughter! Slaughter!

A king without a kingdom,
I was fleeing a hopeless battle...

...when a voice beside me whispered,
"Come, and I will guide you."

It was Liu.

Blessings upon her!

It was she who gave me comfort,
even begging alms for me.

Liu, who are you?

Just a slave, noble lord.

Then why would you share my father's hardships?

Because once, you looked at me...

...and you smiled.

Turn the grindstone! Turn it!

Oil the blade! Make it sharper!

The headsman's sword is never idle
in the realm of Turandot.

Hopeful suitors, hasten!

We can't wait to see you drawn and quartered!

Any man who strikes the gong
may look upon her face.

Pale as ivory, cold as a sword blade... the lovely Turandot.

When the gong sounds, the headsman exults.

A riddle comes three times, but death, only once!

The headsman's sword is never idle
in the realm of Turandot.


Will the moon never rise?

Show us your pale light.

Rise in the heavens! Hasten to us!

O lonely one, forlorn and ashen!

Shine down, pallid and luminous!

O silent phantom!

Beloved of all the dead!

How the graveyard longs for your gloomy light!

See there, a glimmer....

Make us wait no longer!

Come, hasten to us!

See, over there, a glimmer!

It lights up the heavens.

Pu-Tin-Pao, the moon has risen.

Pu-Tin-Pao, hasten! It is time!

Over the mountain far away...

...the crane gave out her song.

But no spring has flowered yet...

...for the snows have lingered long.

Over trackless lands and seas...

...countless voices sigh.

"Lovely Princess, come to me."

"Then will flowers bloom!"

He's young and handsome! Spare him!

Oh, how bravely he advances!

How noble, fair and gentle are his features!

Ah, have mercy!

Princess, spare him!

Show him mercy!

Let me see you, so I may curse you!

Mighty Princess!
Please spare his life!

Oh, what beauty!
Marvelous vision!

Wondrous, enchanting image!
Heavenly beauty!

Oh, what beauty!
Marvelous vision!

My son, what is it?

Her fragrance!
It fills my soul, fills the air around us.

Her heavenly beauty has enthralled me!

My heart is aching, Father!

You must go with us.

Liu, reason with him.
Persuade him to come with us.

My lord, please come away with us!

Life awaits us there.

My life is here now, Father!

Life beckons from afar.

My life is here with her! Turandot!


Would you perish that way?

No, I shall triumph,
inspired by her beauty.

Glorious victory shall be mine.

Go away, you madman!

All who enter here are slaughtered!

Here they choke you! And impale you!

You'll be flayed and beheaded.

Go home and find a wall to crack your head on.

But not here!

Let me be!

We have enough fools here already.

You'll be carted off and buried!

Just because of a princess!

A woman with a crown!

Under those fine robes,
she is made only of flesh.

Not even fit for a meal!

Let me be!

Forget about women or marry a hundred...

...for even Turandot has but one face,
two arms and two legs.

Beautiful and regal, but always the same ones!

A hundred wives, however,
have arms and legs aplenty.

And countless charms
to grace a hundred bedrooms.

Madman, go away!

Be still down there!

Who speaks so loudly?

Be silent!

The sweet hour of slumber now enfolds her.

Her eyes are overcome with sleep.

Her fragrance fills the night.

No more women's chatter! On your way!

Her sweet fragrance perfumes the night.

Look at him, Pong!
Look at him! Look!

He can't hear a word we say.

He just won't listen!

Come! Let's try, all three.

Even darkest night is clearer
than the riddles she will ask.

Iron is no harder than the riddles of Turandot.

Stay away, then, from the riddles she will ask!

Call, and she'll answer.

Though we have died for her,
she still sets us dreaming.

Help us to hear her.

We love her still!

No! It is I who love her!

Who do you love?


You're demented!
Turandot is a phantom.

She doesn't exist.

Just like you and all the others!

Man! God! Me!
Beggars and kings!

This world doesn't exist.
Only Tao exists.

I shall triumph! Love will be mine.

Madman! Thus will she love you!

And thus the moon will kiss your waxen features.

Will you leave me alone in my old age?

Can no human voice make you listen?

Dear master, hear me!

Liu can bear no more.
Her heart will break!

All through our journey,
I kept your name in my heart... my soul, and upon my lips.

But when tomorrow comes,
if your fate should be decided...

...we will perish as we travel into exile.

He will have lost the son he loves.

And I lose the memory of a smile.

Liu can bear no more.

Hear her plea!

Weep no more, Liu.

Recall the smile I once gave you.

And for that smile,
sweet child, please listen.

Tomorrow your noble master
may be left to mourn alone.

Do not desert him.
Take him away with you.

We shall die on the path to exile.

Stay beside him, and ease his way.

Oh, my poor little Liu,
whose courage never falters...

...will you not do this,
for one who smiles no more?

One last time we implore you!

Remember how beautiful life can be!

Don't throw it away!

I'll listen no longer!
Her beauty lures me onward.

Father, forgive me.
Have pity on your son...

...who'll never smile again.

Let's carry him off!

Let me be!
My destiny calls me to her.

A grave awaits the fool who dares to challenge love!


An open grave awaits the fool...

...who dares to challenge love!

Hola, Pang! Hola, Pong!

The fatal gong has roused the palace and the city.

Whatever comes, we're ready.

If the stranger is successful,
we'll plan a wedding.

Otherwise, a funeral.

I'll handle the wedding.

And I, the funeral.

We'll light festive red lanterns.

Or white ones for mourning.

With incense and offerings....

A scarlet canopy, or else a coffin!

Priests chanting or groaning!

And all according to tradition.

Endless details!

O China, O China!
What upheavals you have suffered!

Yet you slept so serenely for centuries!

The world went its way,
on and on, as from the beginning!

And then came Turandot.

And ever since,
our festivities amount to this...

...three gong-strokes,
three riddles, one beheading!

Six died one year, eight the next.

And already in this year,
the terrible year of the Tiger...

...we have had thirteen suitors.

Including this new one.

How exhausting!

How boring!

That's all we ever do now...
arrange for executions!

Near my cottage in Honan...

...lies a little lake of blue... a forest of bamboo.

And here I am, spending my life...

...poring over sacred writings, day after day.

Sacred writings....

How I'd love to go back home... my little lake of blue... a forest of bamboo.

I have forests down in Tsiang.

I've a garden close to Kiu.

No forest could be lovelier.
But I shall not look on it again.

My lake, surrounded by bamboo....

But here we stay, hour after hour,
reading the sacred writings.

If I could go home to Tsiang!

If I could go home to Kiu!

Oh, if we could all go home!

O homeland! You overflow with mad lovers!

Do you remember the Prince of Samarkand?

He came to court her and ended up beheaded.

And the Indian prince, Sagarika,
who wore little bells for earrings?

He wooed and was beheaded.

And the Prince of Kirghiz? Cut open!

And the Tartar prince with the giant crossbow?


Drawn and quartered, slaughtered!

Farewell love! Farewell future!

Farewell dynasty of heaven!

And so China falls,
and the celestial dynasty ends forever!

I'll prepare them a bridal chamber!
A bed of downy cushions!

I'll guide the happy pair and hold the lantern.

Then we'll go to the garden
and sing of love till morning.

There's not a woman in China
immune to the power of love.

Even the icy princess
may yet feel the flame of desire.

Princess, your domain is boundless.

But in that bridal chamber
lies the ruler of your heart.

When you yield to passionate kisses...

...a murmur will rise in the garden,
and every bellflower will chime.

Amid sighs and whispers,
every petal will sparkle with dew.

Glory to him who knows love's secrets at last.

Glory to love, to love triumphant... China the peace it had lost!

We've been dreaming while the palace fills with people.

Hear their clogs clatter on every stairway!

The trumpets are sounding!

The ceremony is starting!

And now let's be off to the umpteenth execution!

See the sages in procession,
burdened by their solemn duty.

Sealed inside the scrolls they carry
are the answers to the riddles.

Here are Ping, Pong and Pang.

May you live ten thousand years!

Hail, almighty Emperor!

Glory unto you!

I must fulfill a dreadful oath.

And uphold the fateful edict.

My scepter is stained
with the blood of young victims.

No more bloodshed.
Go, foolish youth!

Son of the heavens,
allow me to accept the challenge.

Let me die without the burden
of your death, young stranger.

Son of the heavens,
allow me to accept the challenge.

Do not ask that my palace, my people,
witness such horror once more.

Son of the heavens,
I claim the right to try my fortune.

Stranger, death has bewitched you.
So be it!

Your fate shall be decided!

May you live ten thousand years!

Hail, almighty Emperor!

People of Peking!

Attend the edict!

Turandot, the pure, must wed the prince
who solves the riddles she will ask.

If he enters the trial and is defeated,
he will be beheaded!

From the desert to the sea...

...a thousand voices sigh a fervent plea.

Princess fair, come down to me!

Let the springtime be!

Within this palace, in ages past...

...there came a cry of anguish and despair.

And that same cry has echoed through the ages.

Finding refuge at last within my soul.

It was Princess Lo-u-Ling.

My serene and gentle forebear... ruled in quiet joyfulness...

...and resisted tyranny.

Now you live on in me.

As all remember, it was then
that war erupted, and with it, terror.

Our realm was conquered.

And Lo-u-Ling was brutally
pursued and captured... a man like you, just like you, stranger...

...who tortured her,
and stilled her gentle voice forever.

You princes, arriving in such glory,
proudly seeking further conquest...

...I take my revenge on you for all she suffered.

And for her death-cry as she was slaughtered!

No man shall make me his!

No, none shall make me his!

Hatred for the man who killed her
blazes in my heart forever.

No man will possess me!

The glory of her pride and purity
lives on forever in me!

Take care not to trifle with fortune.

Three times you must reply.
You die once only!

Three times shall I reply.
We live once only!

Let the royal stranger take your challenge!

Now listen and answer!

Shrouded in night's shadow,
a glowing phantom rises.

It spreads its wings and hovers
over the wretched of the earth.

Every mortal calls to it,
and every mortal implores it.

It will disappear at dawn,
only to be born again within us.

It comes alive at nightfall,
and dies with each tomorrow.

Yes, it is reborn, exulting,
and lifts my soul on high.

Hope is the answer!

Yes, that same hope that forever fails us!

Like a flame it blazes, yet is not fire.

Like a fever it rages, surging within you.

Sometimes languid,
it can freeze in the face of danger...

...but blazes up in hopes of conquest.

Its very voice can make you tremble.

And like a sunset, it has a crimson glow.

�Think well before you answer!
�Your life's at stake now!


It is for love's sake.

Yes, mighty Princess.
It blazes and then falters.

That's what your glance does... my blood.

Have courage!

Make them be silent!

Frost that burns like fire,
yet grows colder as you touch it.

Clear as day, dark as midnight.
To set you free, it must enslave you.

Yet only in such slavery are you king!

Courage, stranger!
Your face is filled with terror.

And you fear you are defeated.

Tell me, stranger!
What frost is it that burns like fire?

Now I have won you,
for you have let me win.

You are the frost, and I shall melt you...


Glory, glory to the victor!

Life shines brightly on you.

Life and love are your reward.

May our emperor live ten thousand years.

Sovereign light of all creation!

Son of heaven, Father, hear me!

Do not give your daughter
to the embrace of this stranger!

The oath I swore is sacred.

Your daughter is sacred.

You cannot let him take me as if I were his slave.

Your daughter, too, is sacred.

If he enslaves me, the shame of it will kill me.

Turn those glances away!
Do not mock my pride, stranger.

You shall not have me!
You shall not!

The oath is sacred.

No, turn those glances away!
You shall not have me!

He risked his life to win you.

You shall not have me!

Now he must be rewarded.

Is that your wish, O stranger?

Would you take your bride by force?

No, no, proud and mighty Princess!

I want you aflame with love!

Three riddles you asked me.
All three I answered.

One riddle only I ask you in return.

You do not know my name.

That is the riddle.

Tell me my name.

If you can tell me by daybreak,
then at daybreak I shall die.

With heaven's blessing... dawn tomorrow,
I'll greet you as my own son!

We fall at your feet, sovereign light of all creation!

Let all praise your wisdom and your pious heart.

Take the love we humbly and gladly give.

Unto you we pledge our hearts.

May you live ten thousand years!

Hail, almighty Emperor!

Glory unto you!

Now hear what Turandot commands!

Tonight throughout Peking, all sleep is forbidden.

None may slumber!

Many will suffer...

...unless the stranger's name
is discovered before tomorrow.

Many will suffer!

Throughout Peking this night,
no one may slumber.

None may slumber!

None may slumber!

Nor shall you slumber, Princess,
there in your lonely chamber.

Gazing above you at stars
that seem to tremble with love and longing.

But in my heart lies my secret.

No one shall know my name...

...until I press it to your lips...

...amid the blazing light of dawn.

That kiss will end my silence.

Then you will be mine.

Let the night end!
Let the stars descend!

At daybreak, she is mine!

I shall win!

Stop gazing at the stars.

Listen to us! Death stalks the city,
knocking at every doorway.

"Who is he?" it clamors, "Who is he?"

What do you want?

And you?

Is it love you are seeking?

It's yours then. Take it!

See how lovely they are!
Imagine the pleasures that await you!

Their arms hold out
the promise of unending ecstasy.

Then what? Possessions?
Riches untold shall be yours!

These glittering jewels pierce the inky darkness!

No! Away with your treasures!

If you seek power, we'll let you flee
where you can rule in splendor.

Do not stay here! Escape now!

Save yourself, and save us, too.

May the dawn release me from this nightmare!

O stranger, you don't know
how the cruel one will treat us...

...if you stay and your name remains a secret.

She will show us no forgiveness.

We will all be tortured.
We will all be slaughtered!

No prayers or threats can move me!

Though all may perish, I must have Turandot!

No, for you shall die before us!

You must tell us! Who are you?

These two will tell us! They know!

They cannot tell you.

You were seen with them.
They know your secret.

O most heavenly Princess!

His name has been discovered,
locked within these two captives.

We have tools to pry it from them.

Your face grows pale, stranger!

Your fear deludes you!
It's dawn you see on my face.

They cannot tell you who I am.

Old man, I'm waiting!

They must be forced to answer.

Who is he?

I am the only person who knows.

We are saved!

Wretched slave, you know nothing!

Oh, yes, I know it.

That is my greatest pleasure...
knowing I alone possess the secret.

If you harm her, you shall pay for it.

My lord, I shall not speak.

You'll tell us!

Sir, please forgive me, I cannot tell you.

Liu, what's wrong?

I won't cry out.
No one has hurt me.

(Bind my mouth.
Don't let him hear me.)

Answer! Say his name now!

Let her be. Speak!

I would sooner die.

What is it that fills you with such courage?

Princess, it is love.

It's a love I keep unspoken.

A secret love, unbounded and deep,
immune to torture.

Pain is sweetness to me.

A gift I offer to my master.

For, by my silence,
I shall win him your devotion.

Though doing that leaves me with nothing.

I even lose the hope I knew was hopeless.

So bind my arms and torture me.

Go on tormenting me.

I have no greater gift of devotion to offer.

Tear the secret from her!

Send for Pu-Tin-Pao!

Call the headsman!
Let her be tortured!

I'm afraid of myself, afraid I may speak.

You must answer!

Yes, Princess, I will answer you.

Though an icy wall surrounds you...

...raging flames will overwhelm it.

You will come to love him, too.

Long before day dawns,
I will close my eyes forever.

So that he may conquer once more.

And then I'll see his face no more.

Long before a new day dawns... eyes will close forever.

And see his face no more.

Say it!

His name!

You've been killed.
And all for my sake!

Liu, dear one.

It's nearly morning, time to awaken.

Open your eyes, gentle Liu.

Let her be, old man! She's dead.

You killed her! You are all guilty!

She will haunt you forever...

...until she is avenged.

Sorrowing spirit, do not come to harm us.

Grant us forgiveness.

Liu, so good.

Liu, so gentle.

Come, let us journey on together.

With your little hand in mine, you'll guide me.

I know where you're bound...

...and I will follow you
through the night that never yields to morning.

Tenderness, long forgotten,
now wakens, moving us to pity.

You are princess of death...
princess of bloodshed!

Come from your desolate heaven
to dwell among us.

See the cost of your cruelty.

See the blood of your victim, shed unjustly.

How dare you profane me!

I am no common mortal.

Heaven claims me as a daughter.

If you dare approach me,
my soul will flee on high.

Your soul may soar above us,
but you are still beside me.

In my fervent caress,
I will grasp the hem of your mantle.

If my lips tremble,
I will press them to yours.

Ah, to hold you to me!

How dare you profane me!

That wall of ice around you?
A mere illusion!

My ancestor's fate must not befall me!

How I desire you!

Do not touch me, stranger...

...or you will be damned!

A kiss from you confers eternal life!

What shall I do?

I'm lost now!

Oh, my fair, unfolding flower!

My gentle, fragrant lily!

I press you, trembling, to me.

I feel you fainting from rapture...

...pale and lovely in your silvery mantle.

How did you conquer me?

You're weeping?

It's morning!

Turandot is vanquished.

Love will waken with the sunlight!

Let no one see me...

...for my glory now is ended.

No, it is beginning.

O miracle!

Your glory still shines,
transfigured by love's first kiss...

...and your first tears.

My first tears....

I shed them when I first beheld you,
seeing what had been fated...

...this all-consuming fever.

How many I have seen die for me!

And I scorned them.
But you made me afraid.

For in your eyes shone the sacred fire of heroes.

There, I saw the shining certainty you would conquer.

For that I despised you.

For that, too, I loved you...

...not knowing which I feared more,
to defeat you or be defeated.

I am defeated.

I am defeated not by your clever answers,
but by this fever you have given me.

You're mine now!

That's what you sought here.

Now it is yours.

Seek no further conquest.

Leave us, stranger...

...your name still unknown.

My name unknown?
No more!

Even now you can defeat me.

My name, my life, I gladly give you.

I am Calaf, son of King Timur!

You have told me!

My glory is in your embrace!

Listen! The trumpets!

I have no life now but in your kisses.

It's morning.
The final trial approaches.

I do not fear it.

Come, Calaf!
The people await us.

Now you have won!

May he reign ten thousand years!

Hail to our Emperor!

Royal Father!

I know the stranger's name.

It is Love!