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Liù


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(Puccini: Turandot). Sop. A slavegirl in the employ of the blind King Timur and his son Calaf (now the Unknown Prince), with whom she is secretly in love. When Timur is overthrown and exiled, she goes with him, caring for him and acting as his escort. They meet Calaf, whom they feared dead. He asks Liù why she is so kind to his father, and she replies that it is because Calaf once smiled at her. She and Timur are arrested by Turandot's guards, who try to make the old man reveal the name of the Unknown Prince. Frightened that Timur will be injured by the guards, Liù tells them that she is the only one who knows the identity of the Unknown Prince. She is tortured but they cannot make her tell them the answer. Turandot calls for the executioner, but Liù snatches a dagger from a soldier and kills herself. Followed by the heartbroken Timur, her body is carried away by the crowd. (The funeral music for Liù is the last Puccini wrote, and it is here that, at the première, Toscanini laid down his baton.) Arias: Signore, ascolta! (‘My lord, hear me!’); Tu, che di gel sei cinta (‘You who are girdled with ice’). The character of the gentle, faithful Liù, is in marked contrast to the icemaiden Turandot and attracts lyric sopranos as Turandot appeals to dramatic singers. Liù has two beautiful arias, and several German singers, including Lotte Schöne and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, sang the role both on stage and on record (Schwarzkopf recording it with Maria Callas in the title role). Other exponents include Mafalda Favero (who sang Liù to Eva Turner's Turandot and was also a famous Manon Lescaut), Magda Olivero, Raina Kabaivanska, Anna Moffo, Cynthia Haymon, and Yoko Watanabe. Created (1926) by Maria Zamboni.

Subjects: Opera.


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