By the Numbers: 'Turandot' | Voice of San Diego

Arts/Culture

By the Numbers: 'Turandot'

A numerical look at an opera infused with Chinese folklore, love
and death.

 

The San Diego Opera opens its season this weekend with “Turandot,” by Italian composer Giacomo Puccini. The opera dives into the story of a forbidding Chinese princess, Turandot, who turns down (and kills) man after man who fails to correctly answer the three riddles she guards her heart with.

That is, until Prince Calàf comes along, confident he’ll have better luck.

I like rounding up quirky numbers from shows around town, and “Turandot” has a bunch of good ones. The most nerve-wracking number of all, of course, is three — the number of riddles Calàf must correctly answer to win Turandot’s heart.

Here are some more interesting digits, courtesy of San Diego Opera:

6 acrobats

15 regular and Chinese gongs (more on how they’re used below)

277 costumes (designed for San Francisco Opera, which owns this production, by Ian Falconer, an illustrator whom I love for creating my favorite “Olivia” children’s books)

600 lights that use about 450,000 watts (which would power 7,500 60-watt light bulbs or 375 1200-watt hairdryers)

30 wigs

2,885 seats in the Civic Theatre

2 strips of mesh-like wig lace glued over the eyes of Timur, Calàf’s father, who is blind in the opera. The covering gives his eyes a blank look but lets the singer playing him still see the stage.

More behind-the-scenes info on the gongs, from San Diego Opera:

The differences between these 2 types are many, including type of sound and method of creating the actual gong itself. Backstage there is a gong which is played by one of the percussionists who comes up from the pit. Onstage you will see a prop gong, but it is struck by Calàf. Along the back wall of the pit, there are several Chinese gongs played by the percussionists. Chinese gongs have an indescribable sound and are individually pitched.

Our last By the Numbers post focused on “Sextet,” which was composed by Nicolas Reveles, San Diego Opera’s education director. We also tossed a few questions Reveles’s way a few weeks ago.

I’m the arts editor for VOSD. Do you wonder how many widgets, wigs or people in the wings are involved in an arts exhibit or show somewhere in San Diego County? I’d be happy to dig up the digits. Leave a comment, or you can reach me directly at kelly.bennett@voiceofsandiego.org, 619.325.0531 or on Twitter @kellyrbennett.

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