♪Signore, ascolta! – Turandot (G. Puccini)

Turandot (UK /ˈtjʊər.ən.dɒt/ or US /ˈtʊr.ən.dɑːt/; Italian pronunciation: [turanˈdɔt]; see below) is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini, completed by Franco Alfano, and set to a libretto in Italian by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni.

Turandot is a Persian word and name that means “the daughter of Turan“, Turan being a region of Central Asia, formerly part of the Persian Empire. In Persian, the fairy tale is known as Turandokht, with dokht being a contraction of dokhtar (daughter).

Act 1

In front of the imperial palace

The Prince of Tartary is dazzled by Turandot’s beauty. He is about to rush towards the gong and strike it three times—the symbolic gesture of whoever wishes to attempt the riddles to marry Turandot—when the ministers Ping, Pang, and Pong appear and urge him cynically (Fermo, che fai?) not to lose his head for Turandot, but instead go back to his own country. Timur urges his son to desist, and Liù, who is secretly in love with the Prince, pleads with him (Signore, ascolta! – “My lord, listen!”) not to attempt the riddles. Liù’s words touch his heart. The Prince tells Liù to make exile more bearable and never to abandon his father if the Prince fails to answer the riddles (Non piangere, Liù – “Don’t cry, Liù”). The three ministers, Timur, and Liù try one last time to hold the Prince ( Ah! Per l’ultima volta! ) but he refuses to listen.

He calls Turandot’s name three times, and each time Liù, Timur, and the ministers reply, “Death!”, and the crowd declares “we’re already digging your grave!” Rushing to the gong that hangs in front of the palace, he strikes it three times, declaring himself a suitor. From the palace balcony, Turandot accepts the challenge, as Ping, Pang, and Pong laugh at the prince’s foolishness.

Montserrat Caballe “Signore ascolta” Turandot

Renata Tebaldi “Signore ascolta” Turandot 1955

Ekaterina Shcherbachenko: “Signore Ascolta” 2009