MM Tickets will be closed from 6 July until 12 August, but during this period tickets and subscriptions can still be booked online.
La Monnaie wishes you a pleasant summer! 

La Monnaie / De Munt LA MONNAIE / DE MUNT


The story and musical highlights

Thomas Van Deursen
Reading time
5 min.

Three riddles, two impossible love stories, one immortal score: dive into the synopsis of Turandot and listen to some of its musical highlights, selected and commented on by conductor Ouri Bronchti.

Act One

To win the hand of Princess Turandot in marriage, a suitor must solve three riddles. Failure to do so will result in death. That is the fate awaiting the Prince of Persia, who is to be executed at moonrise.

Among the onlookers are the slave girl Liù and her blind master, who stumbles in the tumult. A young, unknown prince rushes to the aid of the old master and recognizes in him the man he was looking for: his long-lost father, the vanquished King Timur. Liù in turn recognizes the prince, with whom she has been secretly in love ever since he bestowed a smile upon her years earlier. The crowd greets the rising moon in icy silence. A moment ago they were calling for blood, but now they beg Turandot to show compassion. However, she does not succumb to their pleas and wordlessly approves the execution. The unknown prince is enchanted by Turandot and determines to win her for himself at all costs, much to the dismay of Liù and Timur. Though the three ministers Ping, Pang and Pong try to talk the prince round, he remains resolute and with a strike of the gong announces himself as the new suitor.

Act Two

Ping, Pang and Pong lament Turandot’s bloody rule. Their thoughts turn to the idyllic life they once enjoyed in the country, but they are jolted back to reality by the noisy crowd gathered around the mysterious prince. Though the old emperor (in this production an empress) Altoum tries to talk the prince out of his decision to win Turandot’s hand, he refuses to be discouraged. Turandot appears and tells the story of her forebear, Princess Lo-u-Ling, who was abducted, maltreated and finally murdered. By way of revenge, Turandot has decided that no man will ever possess her.

One by one, she puts the three riddles to the unknown prince, who – to her horror – answers each one correctly. The crowd erupts with joy and the princess begs her father (here, her mother) not to force her to marry. But to no avail. Then the prince makes Turandot a counter proposal: if she finds out his name before sunrise, he will release his claim on her.

Act Three

Voices ring out in the night: “On pain of death, nobody will sleep until the name of the unknown prince is discovered.” Ping, Pang and Pong first try to bribe the prince, and then with the backing of the crowd threaten him with torture if he does not divulge his name. Suspected of knowing something about the mysterious prince, Timur and Liù are led away. When Turandot appears, Liù declares that only she knows the prince’s identity and that she will never reveal it. Even when the soldiers threaten to torture her, she refuses to utter a word in any language. Taken aback by her resolve, Turandot asks Liù what it is that gives her the strength to resist. Love, she replies. When the pressure becomes insufferable, Liù tells Turandot that one day she, too, will understand what love is. She then commits suicide. Shocked by Liù’s death, the crowd carries her body away in a cortège, followed by a totally bewildered Timur. Turandot and the unknown prince find themselves alone….

Translation: Alison Mouthaan