Year: 2000
USA: Zeitgeist Films
Cast: Lando Bartolini, Barbara Hendricks, Zubin Mehta, Sharon Sweet, Zhang Yimou
Director: Allan Miller
Countries: USA / Germany
Languages: Chinese / Italian / French / German / English
USA: 85 mins
USA Release Date: 10 August 2001 (Limited Release)


THE TURANDOT PROJECT chronicles the creation of the extraordinary production of Giacomo Puccini's opera, TURANDOT, beginning with performances in Florence, Italy, in 1997, and culminating the next year in spectacular outdoor presentations in the Forbidden City of Beijing. The award winning Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou (RED SORGHUM, RAISE THE RED LANTERN, NOT ONE LESS) directed both productions, with internationally famous conductor Zubin Mehta.

THE TURANDOT PROJECT presents a glorious picture of the most ambitious production of TURANDOT ever staged, with its back-stage dramas, its enormous technical problems, its passions and politics, all enacted amid a complicated array of languages - Chinese, Italian, English, French and German. We meet an enormous array of performers - from the Western opera stars, chorus and orchestra, to the hundreds of soldiers from the Chinese army that Zhang Yimou cast as extras and ancient Chinese warriors. Zhang also engaged 2000 people from rural China to sew and embroider 900 new costumes for the Beijing TURANDOT.

Ultimately, Zhang and Mehta's Turandot is an overwhelming success: a union of Western opera with Eastern culture and tradition. And as Mehta says at the dazzling finale, as we watch Turandot declaring her love for Calaf before the entire assembly: "Everything came into place in the end... there was not one glitch. Nobody thought we could do it."