The Turandot Project

    • Allan Miller
    • Germany, United States
    • 2000
    • 84 min
    • IDFA Competition for Feature-Length Documentary
    In Florence in 1996, a motley company assembled to stage an opera. It was Turandot, Giacomo Puccini’s last work that premiered in 1926, two years after the Italian composer’s death. In THE TURANDOT PROJECT, the Indian musical leader of the project, Zubin Mehta, reports on the realisation of this mammoth production. The story of the opera is set in the ancient Chinese empire. The leading character is Princess Turandot, who gives men paying court to her three riddles to solve. If they fail, they will be sentenced to death. To create an authentic Chinese atmosphere in the performance, a remarkable choice was made: the famous Chinese film director Zhang Yimou was asked to direct the opera. The film follows the rehearsal process in Florence, and later in Beijing, where another nine performances were staged. Particularly in China, it becomes clear how prestigious the enterprise was. No trouble or expense was spared to satisfy the Chinese audience. In addition to an international cast of top-class singers and technicians, three hundred infantrymen were hired to play the emperor’s soldiers. Furthermore, Zhang Yimou insisted on re-designing all of the costumes, this time in the style of the Ming dynasty, as this suited the location of the performance, in the heart of the Forbidden City. What nobody had expected came about: the opera was a huge success and was considered a successful attempt to reconcile the Chinese tradition with Western culture.


    • 84 min
    • color
    • 35mm
    • Spoken languages: Chinese, English, Italian
    Allan Miller
    Margaret Smilow for Alternate Current Inc.
    Tom Hurwitz
    Allan Miller, Donald Klocek
    Peter Miller, Tine Mertens

    IDFA history

    IDFA Competition for Feature-Length Documentary

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    IDFA history

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