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Turandot

gozzi, fiabe, carlo, london and venetian

TURANDOT, an oriental fantasy in verse by the Venetian dramatist, Carlo Gozzi (q.v.), was th fourth of his Fiabe (those odd nurser• tale plays) and was produced in Venice, Jan. 1762. To confute the criticisms of his adversaries, that the Fiabe owed their success to utilization of magic metamorphoses and scenic mechanism, Gozzi replied with a work from which the supernatural element and com plicated stage devices were eliminated. The theme is the familiar Persian tale of the cruel princess averse to matrimony who compels her royal suitors to solve three riddles or to suffer death. This bald subject, already known to European literature from the 'Gesta Ro manorum,) becomes amplified in Gozzi's hands into a five act tragi-comedy by the addition of a secondary plot, the love of the enslaved Prin cess Adelma for the princely hero, Calaf. Gozzi, with his customary anachronisms, places the scene in Pekin and transfers there under the guise of court officials the stock Italian masks, Pantalone, Brighella, Truffaldino and Tartaglia, whose Venetian humor gives the comic con trast to the serious plot. Turandot, the daughter of the gentle Emperor Altoum, has successfully eluded all suitors till Calaf solves the three enigmas. Excepting the third and fourth acts which are cluttered with seraglio bickerings and the insertion of the secondary action, beauti ful in the handling of the confession of Mel ma's love, the drama maintains its interest re markably well. Calaf is strikingly poetic in his unswervable love and his detached romantic in tensity. His faithful follower, Barach, is a well-drawn type of loyal devotion and sacrifice.

Lacking the essentially local appeal of the other Fiabe, 'Turandot) was frequently trans lated into other languages, notably German, and obtained a success far beyond its repute in Italy. Schiller's version for the Weimar stage (1802) surpasses the original in poetic form and pathetic sentiment. The beautiful incidental music of Ferruccio Busoni (1906), the recent translation of Karl Vollmceller (1911), attest to its vitality in Germany. In January 1913 a three-act adaptation from Voll mceller's rendering was played at the Saint James' Theatre, London. This singular favor among foreign nations serves to contrast with the almost complete extinction of the work in Italy. It is true that (Turandot,) like the other Fiabe, was written for a transitory pur pose in the conflict between the older dramatic forms and the newer art of Goldoni. The de fects of the fiabesque drama are less apparent in ‘Turandot); the style, so wretchedly slip shod and full of Venetian colloquialisms else where, rises here to higher flights. less, Gozzi in his own country has received scant credit for the merits of this quaint Consult Magrini, G. B., tempi; la vita e gli scritti di Carlo (Benevento 1883); Ernesto, 'Le Fiabe di Carlo (Bologna 1884) ; Symonds, J. A., 'The Memoirs of Carlo Gozzi) (London 1890); Bithell, Jethro, (Turan dot, Princess of China' (an adaptation in three acts from the German, London 1913).