Outside the Imperial Palace in Peking, a Mandarin reads an edict to the crowd: any prince seeking to marry the princess Turandot must answer three riddles. If he fails, he will die. The most recent suitor, the Prince of Persia, is to be executed at the moon’s rising. Among the onlookers are the slave girl Liù, her aged master, and the young Calàf, who recognizes the old man as his long lost father, Timur, vanquished King of Tartary. When Timur reveals that only Liù has remained faithful to him, Calàf asks why. She replies that once, long ago, Calàf smiled at her. The mob cries for blood but greets the rising moon with a sudden fearful silence. When the Prince of Persia is led to his execution, the crowd calls upon the princess to spare him. Turandot appears, and with a contemptuous gesture orders that the execution proceed. As the victim’s death cry is heard from the distance, Calàf, transfixed by the beauty of the unattainable princess, strides to the gong that announces a new suitor. Suddenly Turandot’s three ministers, Ping, Pang, and Pong, appear to discourage him. Timur and the tearful Liù also beg him not to risk his life (“Signore, ascolta!”). Calàf tries to comfort her (“Non piangere, Liù”) but then strikes the gong and calls Turandot’s name.


Inside the palace, Ping, Pang, and Pong lament Turandot’s bloody reign, praying that love will conquer her heart and restore peace. The three let their thoughts wander to their peaceful country homes (Trio: “Ho una casa nell’Honan”), but the noise of the people gathering to hear Turandot question the new challenger calls them back to reality.  The old emperor asks Calàf to reconsider, but he will not be dissuaded. Turandot enters and describes how her beautiful ancestor, Princess Lou-Ling, was abducted and killed by a conquering prince. In revenge, she has turned against men and determined that none shall ever possess her (“In questa reggia”). Facing Calàf, she poses her first question: What is born each night and dies each dawn? “Hope,” Calàf answers, correctly. Turandot continues: What flickers red and warm like a flame, yet is not a flame? “Blood,” Calàf replies after a moment’s thought. Shaken, Turandot delivers the third riddle: What is like ice but burns? Tense silence prevails until Calàf triumphantly cries, “Turandot!” The crowd erupts in joy, and the princess vainly begs her father not to give her to the stranger. Hoping to win her love, Calàf offers Turandot a challenge of his own: if she can learn his name by dawn, he will forfeit his life.


In the Imperial Gardens, Calàf hears a proclamation: on pain of death no one in Peking shall sleep until Turandot learns the stranger’s name. Calàf is certain of his victory (“Nessun dorma!”), but Ping, Pang, and Pong try to bribe him to leave the city. As the fearful mob threatens him to learn his name, soldiers drag in Liù and Timur. Calàf tries to convince the crowd that neither of them knows his secret. When Turandot appears, commanding Timur to speak, Liù replies that she alone knows the stranger’s identity and will never reveal it. She is tortured but remains silent. Impressed by such fortitude, Turandot asks Liù’s secret. It is love, she replies. When the soldiers intensify the torture, Liù tells Turandot that she, too, will know the joys of love (“Tu, che di gel sei cinta”). Then she snatches a dagger and kills herself. The crowd forms a funeral procession and the body is taken away. Turandot remains alone to confront Calàf, who impetuously kisses her (Duet: “Principessa di morte!”). Knowing emotion for the first time, Turandot weeps (“Del primo pianto”). Calàf, now sure of winning her, reveals his identity. Once again before the emperor’s throne, Turandot declares she knows the stranger’s name: it is Love.

What would you do for love?

Hawaii Opera Theatre presents Puccini’s Turandot, a classic work that has been a favorite amongst opera lovers for generations. Turandot, at times considered a complicated piece, was finished by Franco Alfano, as Puccini died before its completion.

Set in China and performed in Italian, the story revolves around the icy, dare we say evil lead character, Turandot, portrayed in our production by Susan Foster, whose past performances in the role of Turandot with Opera Australia, the San Francisco Opera, for Greek National Opera, and Savonlinna Opera Festival have amazed audiences around the world.

Jay Hunter Morris, whose acclaimed performance in the role of Siegfried with The Metropolitan Opera’s presentation of Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle brought him universal acclaim, will be making his debut in the role of Calàf, the brave, albeit naive, stranger in a strange land, who would risk his life, then offer to give it freely for the love of the Princess.

Calàf must solve three riddles in order to win the hand of the Princess. Should he beat the challenge, will the cold Turandot uphold her end of the bargain?

Find out just how far one man will go for Love… and one woman will go to avoid it!

Performance Schedule

  • October 11, Friday, 8:00pm
  • October 13, Sunday, 4:00pm
  • October 15, Tuesday, 7:00pm

All performances at the Blaisdell Concert Hall

Sung in Italian with English translations projected above the stage.




    Orchestra Level
  • AA - $125
  • OR/OL - $90
  • A - $90
  • B - $63
  • C - $47
  • D - $34
  • Seating Chart

    Balcony Level
  • AA - $125
  • A - $90
  • B - $63
  • C - $47

Get Tickets

  • Call the Box Office:
    (808) 596-7858 or 1-800-836-7372
  • Call the Main Office: (808) 596-7372
  • Or Buy Tickets Here:
  • Buy Tickets Online

Pre-Show Features

Pre-Performance Lanai Lecture:
  • Show Day
    at the Ward Lanai, Blaisdell Concert Hall
    1st lecture: 30 minutes before curtain
    2nd lecture: 60 minutes before curtain
In-Depth Preview Lectures:

Stay tuned for updates on lecture schedules

Meet the Stars


Susan Foster

It takes a sound as large as Foster’s to fill the cavernous theaters around the world where great names are made…

The Chicago Tribune


Jay Hunter Morris

Morris brandished a bright, lyric voice that pierced Wagner’s massive orchestrations. Tall, blond and broad-shouldered, the tenor – who started on Broadway in 1995’s “Master Class” – even looked the part of a Teutonic dragon slayer

The New York Post