But for me, the most moving moment on opening night belonged to Kaduce as Liù. Original stage director Renaud Doucet and acting stage director for this production Kathleen Stakenas orchestrate a grippingly effective torture and death scene for the character, with Kaduce diving headfirst into all of its dramatic peaks and valleys. With her powerful voice and impressive acting ability, she enacts the character’s sudden boldness, making for a moment of genuine tragedy and beauty at the show’s center.
“Turandot” is a show with many moving parts — it’s actually one of the largest productions in the Atlanta Opera’s history — and all the pageantry clicks into place. Designer André Barbe’s enormous sets, consisting of a series of circular arches and platforms, strikes a nice balance between stark, modern simplicity and old-fashioned grandeur. The show creates fantastic stage images, especially when the set is full of chorus members, dancers and supernumeraries, with processions streaming in, around and through the various circular elements in a smartly organized but dazzling way.
Unfortunately, there are also moments when the set can seem too static, and during more intimate scenes, it’s hard to conceptualize the set’s abstract, imagined Peking as real space in which people are interacting with each other.
Still, this production of “Turandot” is remarkably effective overall. Perhaps the most telling sign of the company’s success here is the fact that I brought along a friend who was kind enough to accept my last-minute invitation, but swore all the way to the show that she’d always hated opera. Before the performance began, she warned me not to scold her if she caught up on some sleep while I went to work reviewing the production. But she ended up thoroughly engrossed and totally delighted. An opera hater who becomes an opera fan within the space of a few hours is always the surest sign of a production done right.
Atlanta Opera’s “Turandot”
$45-$151. 8 p.m. May 5; 3 p.m. May 7. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta. 404-881-8885, www.atlantaopera.org.