Behind the Curtain: Taking on Turandot

By: Greg Carpenter, The Ellie Caulkins General & Artistic Director

Spring is in the air, and that means our 40th Anniversary Season is coming to a close. It has been a tremendous season of artistic triumphs and a few last-minute casting challenges. We’ve seen record single ticket sales for Rigoletto and Die tote Stadt and we are heading into a sell-out for Turandot. We are also seeing an encouraging return to pre-pandemic education and community engagement activities.


To cap off our celebratory season, we have a beautiful and opulent production of Puccini’s grandest opera Turandot. This opera embodies all the glitz and glamour that opera enthusiasts love. It also entices the opera curious to take a step towards fully embracing this glorious artform. Thanks to Luciano Pavarotti, The Three Tenors, and Aretha Franklin (1998 Grammy Awards), Calàf’s aria “Nessun Dorma” has become a household tune. There’s so much more beautiful music in this opera that exudes all the passion and drama we love about Puccini.

We also acknowledge that Puccini’s nineteenth-century depiction of Chinese culture is flawed and presents numerous challenges to our twenty-first-century social responsibilities. Puccini wrote this opera during a time of western fascination and appropriation of eastern cultures, known as Orientalism. Much of the design and plot draw heavily from negative stereotypes. The challenges include yellowface, casting, and how Puccini characterizes the three ministers—Ping, Pang, and Pong—just to name a few.


We were privileged to have the opportunity to present an informative conversation with members of the AAPI community hosted by Rocky Mountain Public Media on February 13.

Learn more about the panel discussion.>>

I encourage you to listen to the recorded conversation to better understand the challenges the opera industry faces as we look to present works like Turandot, Madama Butterfly, and The Pearl Fishers.

We have begun our journey to better explore and support the Asian arts scene in Denver. If you are curious about how you can do the same, here are just a few resources to get you started.



There are challenges in presenting Turandot in the twenty-first-century, and Opera Colorado is committed to addressing them and encouraging dialog as we work towards bringing you a spectacular production. We’ll continue to share updates and content here on the Opera Colorado blog, and on our website, The Riddle of Turandot.

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