This is the Act I Finale of Puccini's Turandot, set in an imaginary fairy-tale China. It is a complicated piece to translate because everyone is talking at once and their phrases overlap at different times. I have tried here to break it up into reasonable blocks of text.

I feel I should say, this scene is really not about the words. The way Puccini has set it, it's impossible to follow all the words while listening even if you know Italian. But it doesn't matter: the characters' emotions come through clearly, and the way the scene gradually builds in dramatic tension always makes me hold my breath. But I thought it would be interesting to step away for a moment and see what the words are.

The Prince (Calaf) has fallen in love with Turandot at first sight. He wishes to strike the gong in order to enter her riddle contest: if he succeeds, he marries the princess, but if he fails, he loses his head. His aged father Timur and the young slave Liù, who is in love with Calaf, desperately try to persuade him to change his mind. The three court officials hold him back and add their more practical arguments.

We're already digging a grave for you who want to challenge love! )
"In questa reggia," Turandot's aria from Turandot.

No man will ever possess me! )


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