The Sarasota Opera Winter Festival opens Saturday with the company's first performance of Giacomo Puccini's "Turandot." The Italian composer's final opera, it premiered in 1926.
Set in Ancient China, "Turandot" is based on the ancient Persian fairy tale of a princess so beautiful that men travel from around the world to win her heart by solving three riddles. Answer correctly and win her eternal love. Answer incorrectly and lose your head.
Soprano Brenda Harris (Princess Turandot) and tenor Jonathan Burton (prince Calaf) will both make their Sarasota Opera and role debuts.
"Turandot" includes "Nessun Dorma." One of the best-known tenor arias in all of opera, it has been recorded by everyone from Luciano Pavarotti to Aretha Franklin.
Rounding out the Sarasota Opera cast is soprano Maria Natale as the slave girl Liu, bass Young Bok Kim as Calaf's father, Timur and baritone Matthew Hanscom as Ping.
The production is directed by Stephanie Sundine and conducted by Victor DeRenzi, who will be celebrating his 600th performance as Artistic Director of Sarasota Opera Feb. 12.
Sung in Italian with English supertitles.
Details: Feb. 9 - March 23, Sarasota Opera House, 61 N. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota. Tickets: $29-$140. Information: 941-328-1300 or www.sarastoaopera.org.