De-Colonizing Puccini's Opera Turandot (1924)

Level of Education of Students Involved


Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Katherina Uhde


Arts and Sciences


Music Education

Presentation Type

Artistic Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 3-30-2023


De-Colonizing Puccini's Opera Turandot (1924)

This research is about Puccini's opera Turandot. Using historical, cultural and music-analytical methods, I contextualize this piece in a manner distinct from older musicological approaches. Whereas until recently, scholars have highlighted themes of orientalism and exoticism, this focus is being reconsidered these days as Puccini's operas, along with other Western compositions, are reevaluated from a "de-colonizing" perspective. Building on the works of Mosco Carner (1936), Hon Lun Yang (2017), and Frederick Lau (2018), I throw light on Chinese song elements and the way they are used in Turandot, but also the way that current Chinese audiences would understand these song elements. For example, one song used in the opera is titled "Jasmine Flower". This research investigates how for Chinese audiences this song captures an entirely different meaning than what Puccini and his audiences, as well as later audiences of Western opera, heard in this melody. By placing Puccini's opera within this conversation with an aim of cultural sensitivity, my research helps audiences here at Valparaiso to shift their own listening.

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