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Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House
Bennelong Point, Sydney


Sung in Italian with English surtitles.

Running time

Approximately 2 hours and 50 minutes, including two intervals.

As the moon rises, a death cry wails through imperial Peking. Torture and death mean nothing. Freedom means everything. Can the princess win her heart’s desire?

When Pavarotti sang out the top B in Puccini’s ‘Nessun dorma’ across a huge crowd at the 1990 FIFA World Cup, the world collectively held its breath. A generation of football fans were learning what opera was all about — music that can transport you to another world, another place, a place where emotion wells up inside you at the sound of a single note.

“Vincerò”, the tenor cries — “I will win! I will WIN!”

Few had seen Turandot — Puccini’s opera about a brutal princess and an impossibly brave suitor, who will make any sacrifice to win her love. How many of the millions of people who watched that broadcast suddenly had an inkling of what the power of that music can be?

Turandot is a fantasy opera of poetry and myth, set in an exotic world where fear and love go hand in hand and death is always just around the corner. ‘Nessun dorma’ is just one of its magnificent moments.

Renowned conductors Christian Badea and Leonardo Sini return to Australia to conduct.

Cast & Creative

Christian Badea (Jan 12–Feb 12)
Leonardo Sini (Feb 15–Mar 14)
Director & Choreographer
Revival Director
Set & Costume Designer
Lighting Designer
Lise Lindstrom (Jan 12-Feb 5)
Anna-Louise Cole (Feb 9-Mar 14)
Yonghoon Lee (Jan)
Ivan Gyngazov (Feb-Mar)
Karah Son (Jan 12-Feb 12)
Mariana Hong (Feb 15-Mar 14)
Handmaiden 1
Handmaiden 2
Prince of Persia

Opera Australia Chorus
Opera Australia Children’s Chorus
Opera Australia Orchestra

Turandot at Arts Centre Melbourne (2019)

Photographer: Jeff Busby

Turandot at Arts Centre Melbourne (2019)

Photographer: Jeff Busby

Turandot at Arts Centre Melbourne (2019)

Photographer: Jeff Busby

Turandot at Arts Centre Melbourne (2019)

Photographer: Jeff Busby

Turandot at Arts Centre Melbourne (2019)

Photographer: Jeff Busby

Turandot at Arts Centre Melbourne (2019)

Photographer: Jeff Busby

Cheat Sheet: Turandot

Everything you need to know about one of the world's most popular operas.

What happens in the story? Who was the composer? What should I expect from the music? Here’s everything you need to know…

Read the cheat sheet


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Keeping you safe at the theatre

COVID Safety

Our performances will comply with all Public Health Orders and adhere to our epidemiologist-approved COVID-Safe Plan, including any requirement at the time of the performance that audience members be vaccinated. Full details of our COVID-Safe Plan will be published online closer to the event.


Turandot is a version of the ancient fairy tale of the cruel Eastern Princess who slays those who love her.


Before the Imperial Palace in Peking

At sunset a Mandarin appears before the crowd and announces that any prince seeking to marry the Princess Turandot must first answer three riddles. If he fails, he must die. The latest suitor, the Prince of Persia, is to be executed at the moon's rising. The bloodthirsty crowd surges forward and an old blind man is knocked to the ground.

In response to his slave's cries for help, a young man steps forward. The old man is Timur, the banished King of Tartary, who is overjoyed to learn that the young man is his long lost son, Calaf. Timur tells his son that only Liù, his slave, has remained faithful to him in his exile. Calaf asks why she has risked so much; she replies it is because once long ago he, Calaf, smiled at her.

As the sky darkens, the mob again cries for blood but greets the moon with sudden, fearful silence. They are further moved when the Prince of Persia passes by and calls upon the princess to spare him. Calaf curses the beauty who sends noble and innocent lovers to their deaths. Turandot appears and, with a contemptuous gesture, bids the execution to proceed.

As the death cry is heard in the distance, Calaf, transfixed by the beauty of the unattainable princess, strides to the gong that announces a new suitor. Suddenly Turandot's three ministers, Ping, Pang and Pong, materialise to discourage him. Timur and the tearful Liù also beg him to reconsider, but as their pleas intensify, he strikes the fatal gong and calls Turandot's name.

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