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Newly Discovered Sketches for Puccini's "Turandot" at The Pierpont Morgan Library Author(s): Allan W. Atlas

Newly Discovered Sketches for Puccini's "Turandot" at The Pierpont Morgan Library Author(s): Allan W. Atlas Source: Cambridge Opera Journal, Vol. 3, No. 2 (Jul., 1991), pp. 173-193 Published by: Cambridge University Press Stable URL: Accessed: 03-05-2017 18:47 UTC

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Cambridge Opera Journal, 3, 2, 173-193

Newly discovered sketches for

Puccini's Turandot at

The Pierpont Morgan Library


Among the Puccini materials at The Pierpont Morgan Librar

(hereafter NYpm), there is a single folio that contains three prev

sketches for Puccini's final opera, Turandot.' No doubt th

escaped notice up to now because the folio on which they app

tently been included with a large series of sketches and drafts d of Puccini's operas, Lafanciulla del West. The folio was included i

catalogued as Koch 989, where it stood as Item No. 8 among a

other folios and/or bifolios (forty-five pages of music in all) tha

preliminary sketches and more fully developed short-score c

for Lafanciulla.2 Now, thanks to J. Rigbie Turner, the folio w

sketches has been transferred to a folder of its own and reca

989.5. First, a detailed description of the document:

The folio measures 35.1 x 24.9 cm, contains twelve staves,3 and is throughout. The sketches, all of which appear on one side of the

For an otherwise complete list of the Puccini holdings at NYpm - sketches,

continuity drafts and full orchestral scores - see J. Rigbie Turner, 'Music M

in The Pierpont Morgan Library: A Catalogue' (1989), which remains unp

should like to thank both Mr Turner, Curator of the Music Collection, and

NYpm for their unfailing kindness during my visits to the library.

2 Koch 989 is not among the Puccini materials listed in Turner, 'Nineteenth-

Autograph Music in The Pierpont Morgan Library: A Check List (II)', 19t

Music, 4 (1980), 169-70. Another folio of Fanciulla sketches appears in Koch

n. 6). I am currently preparing a study of the Fanciulla sketches and drafts

and Koch 282 as part of a larger project on Puccini's compositional process.

3 The twelve-stave format immediately sets the folio apart from the well-kn

sketches and drafts that Puccini left unrealised for the conclusion of the op

sketches, which consist of thirty-six pages of music and which are preserve

of G. Ricordi & Co., Milan, are all written on ten-stave paper. For a detaile

these sketches, including reproductions of seven of the pages, see Jurgen M

zum Fragmentcharakter von Giacomo Puccinis Turandot', Analecta music

(1984), 298-379; Maehder's study has also been printed in Italian and Englis in a condensed version): 'Studi sul carattere di frammento della Turandot',

pucciniani, 2 (1985), 79-163; and 'Puccini's "Turandot": A Fragment- Stu

Alfano's Completion of the Score', in Nicholas John, ed., Turandot: Giaco

English National Opera Guide, 27 (London and New York, 1984), 35-53. F

comment on the sketches for the conclusion of the opera, see Janet Maguir

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Allan W. Atlas

blank) are disposed as follows: Sketch I on staves 1-3, Sketch II on staves 4-8, and Sketch III on staves 9-12 (see Fig. 1 and Ex. 1). Although the sketches now fill one

side of a single folio, that folio must have been part of a bifolio, with further sketches

on the verso of the folio that faced it. First, the left-hand edge of Koch 989.5 shows clear signs of having been torn; and second, Sketch I, which consists of only a single

bar of music, has its bar line flush against the left-hand margin of staves 1-3 and begins

with three ties, these obviously having connected the single bar of Sketch I with one

that had appeared on the facing folio. Thus the three sketches probably filled folio

2r of a bifolio on which there were also sketches on folio 1v, and perhaps on folio

1r, as well.4

In the upper left-hand corner of the folio, there is a lower-case 'a', set off with an

oblique slash beneath it. Like the sketches, the 'a' was entered in pencil, and there

is no reason to doubt that it was written by Puccini himself. As I shall argue in Section

2, the 'a' might belong to a 'late' foliation system, one that was applied only when

a later stage of composition was already under way, as Puccini separated - and conse-

quently foliated - those folios of sketches that he wished to save from those that he

could discard. In the end, though, the precise significance of the 'a' remains unclear.5

Having described the physical characteristics of the folio, we may now turn

to Puccini's general mode of sketching. From his work on the early stages of La fanciulla del West, the opera for which we have the greatest number

of early sketches and short-score continuity drafts, it seems that Puccini went

through three distinct stages of sketching and drafting (though these were not

necessarily synchronised for the opera as a whole, as one act or section could

move ahead of another): (1) short, rudimentary sketches in which he tried out

'Version of the Duet' and Final Scene of Turandot', Musical Quarterly, 74 (1990), 319-59,

which, however, proceeds without even mentioning Maehder's work.

For reproductions of still other Turandot sketches, some of which also appear on twelve-

stave paper, see Teodoro Celli, 'Scoprire la melodia' and 'L'ultimo canto', La Scala, 18

(April 1951), 40-3; 19 (May 1951), 32-5. The facsimiles in Celli's articles are reproduced

far more clearly in Federico Candida, 'La "Incompiuta"', La Scala, 109 (December 1958),


4 It is possible, however, that Puccini used the 'outer' pages of the bifolio as a single, open sheet of paper (as opposed to the inside-the-'booklet' format just assumed), in which case

the sketches would occupy folio 1 r, with the material preceding Sketch I appearing on

folio 2v. That Koch 989.5 lacks a 'brandname' is not evidence of its being either folio

1r or folio 2r of the bifolio. None of the complete bifolios with either Turandot or Fanciulla

sketches has a manufacturer's trademark.

5 Puccini used an alphabetic foliation at times; for instance, folios 170-194r in the autograph

full score of Tosca were originally foliated 'A-BB'. However, as I note in 'Puccini's Tosca:

A New Point of View', Studies in the History of Music, 3: The Compositional Process

(New York, 1991), n. 31, the use of the alphabet there was intended as a temporary


Nevertheless, a foliation system that used even multiple passes through th

would have been impractical for the large number of folios/pages of sketche

that Puccini probably produced for an opera. Although the collection of Fa

in Koch 989 now numbers forty-five pages of sketches and drafts, Item No.

folio that transmits a draft of the beginning of the Act II poker game, bears t

'160' and '161' - in Puccini's hand - on its recto and verso. Yet this is the onl

in Koch 989 to have page or folio numbers, and, significantly, the paper for

differs from any other in the collection. Thus we must at least consider the po that there were no fewer than 161 pages of sketches and drafts on this odd pa


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Newly discovered sketches for Puccini's Turandot 175

/')) :; /:i^ :v-'; - J- I : . r. - ? D , .
/')) :; /:i^ :v-'; - J-
? D ,
;,,, of < ;; # go> MZ !;.^.^
^ ~
IIIf i +- :: , .t
: .: : .; .: j . Z.
^.-" ii^^i^^ .?"

Library, New York. Koch 989.5)

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Allan W. Atlas




ma chi affron-ta il ci -






LiL cantato da pochi soprani da capo

[41[4] 2^LjT]tM-Q 'Wtr r r ri]-


qui -










[first, pronounced fold - --- ]-

3a i ti ~ /


al sorger dell [a] luna

1 .aitJ."J ' J e J




[121 ro

[91 F> '. L . ~segro

Ex. 1. NYpm, Koch 989.5, diplo

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Newly discovered sketches for Puccini's Turandot


his first, still-raw musical ideas for the opera (more than a few of which were

eventually discarded); (2) more fully developed short-score continuity drafts,

in which he worked out his earlier ideas at the level of the individual 'number'

or comparably short scene; and (3) another round of short-score continuity

drafts, in which he worked out the music for individual acts in their entirety.6

It seems obvious that the three Turandot sketches belong to the earliest stage of the sketching-drafting process, as their musical contents are still fragmentary

(even allowing for the portion of Sketch I that appeared on the facing page),

and, with respect to Sketches II and III in particular, marked by tentativeness

and uncertainty. Indeed, as I shall argue later, the folio can be dated prior

to mid-May 1921 at the very latest, that is, at some point within the first ten

months of Puccini's work on Turandot. Just how early a stage those ten months

represent in the gestation of the opera can be grasped by recalling that the

opera was still incomplete when Puccini died some three-and-a-half years later,

and that the short-score continuity draft for Calaf's 'No. No! Gli enigmi sono

tre, una e la vita' in Act II (at 48) bears the date '4.2/24'.7 But before we

pursue the matter of dating, we should consider the sketches themselves.


By far the least problematic - but possibly the most instructive - of the three

sketches is SketchI, a single bar that occupies staves 1-3 and that was the

continuation - more precisely, the final bar - of a sketch that Puccini had begun

on the now-lost facing page. The sketch sets the text 'ma chi affronta il ci[mento]',

the beginning of the fifth line of the opera, as the Mandarin proclaims the lawto the populace assembled before the Imperial City.8 Example 2 shows

Puccini's setting of the text as it appears in the final version of the opera.

As a comparison of Sketch I and the finished product shows, Puccini had

already arrived at the bitonal sonority of B flat minor against A major early

on in the sketching process, a sonority fromwhich he never wavered. However,

6 All three stages are represented among the Fanciulla materials at NYpm: stages 1 and 2 are intermingled, though never on the same folio, in Koch 989 and Koch 282 (see above

and n. 2), while stage 3 appears in an unnumbered 347-page manuscript that is part of

the Robert Owen Lehman Collection (on deposit at NYpm). This last itemis cited in Turner (see n. 2), 169-70, and one of its pages (p. 172) is reproduced in Turner, Four

Centuries of Opera: Manuscripts and Printed Editions in The Pierpont Morgan Library


7 See the facsimiles of the sketch in Celli (n. 3), 42, and Candida (n. 3), 72. References

to locations in Turandot are to the current Ricordi vocal scores (any language) and indicate

rehearsal number (in bold) plus or minus the number of bars after or before the rehearsal number. Passages that begin right at the rehearsal number are cited with that number


8 The Mandarin's proclamation is quoted in near-literal fashion, though at a faster pace, in Act II/Quadro 2, just before 'In questa reggia'. There can be no doubt, though, that SketchI was conceived inconnectionwiththe Act I passage. This is confirmed both

by the sketch's use of dotted rhythms - present in the Act I version but lacking in that

of Act II - and by Puccini's reference to the passage in a letter of 10 May 1921 (see p.

190), where chronological considerations leave no doubt that Puccini is referring to Act I. Finally 'In questa reggia' was itself conceived at a later date.

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Allan W. Atlas

oti - ^i r 66 mn- e I rv r - s 1 ^7

[propor] -ra

Ma chiaf-fron-tajl ci-men-to e vin-to re- sta, por-gajl1-la scu- re_


























Ex. 2. Turan






bitonal sono



not, for
































I and


process. In







durational u





2/4, wi











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Newly discovered sketches for Puccini's Turandot 179

work on La fanciulla del West. A particularly instructive example from La

fanciulla appears in the banjo-like interlude that separates the strophes of Jake

Wallace's 'Che faranno i vecchi miei' near the beginning of Act I, and it can serve as an illustration of the compositional-notational problem with which

Puccini often seemed to struggle. In the final version, Puccini notated the two-

bar passage in 3/4 with a stream of sixteenth notes (see Ex. 3). In the three

- cam


- po!


[Jake Wallace]

3^ftA J 9a





Ex. 3. La fanciulla del West, A

sketches for this passage, ho

triple metre - between 3/2 w Ex. 4).9 Thus after trying the

teenths, respectively), Pucc

mi maggiore



/ buon acc[ompanimento]


,~1 i L

g^~Cj6m .-^rWaj

Ffi+ ga~~I~

Ex. 4. NYpm, Koch 989, No. 2, folio 2v

9 On the difference in key - D major in the final version, E major in the sketches - see

my article, 'Belasco and Puccini: Old Dog Tray and the Zuni Indians', to appear in The

Musical Quarterly, 75 (1991).

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Allan W. Atlas

replace it eventually with the very 3/4 version that he had rejected in the first


The second notable difference between Sketch I and the finished product

concerns the metrical placement of the melodic/vocal phrase within the bar. Whereas Sketch I precedes the phrase with a rest on the first beat of the bar

and then sets 'Ma chi af-' as an upbeat to the weaker second beat (granted

that the difference between first and second or stronger and weaker beats is

less pronounced than usual because of the sustained harmony), the final version

places those same syllables as an upbeat to the first, and strongest, beat of

the next bar. And again, one frequently finds this same kind of metrical displace-

ment when comparing the sketches and final version of La fanciulla, as Puccini

often had difficulty deciding on the metrical position of a melodic/vocal phrase

when it appeared over a static, unchanging harmony, whether within the confines

of a single bar or across a span of two or more bars.

In all, then, Sketch I illustrates Puccini's frequent indecision about both the

combination of metre and note values and the metrical placement of a melodic/

vocal phrase over a sustained, unchanging harmony. And if we read Sketch

I in conjunction with the sketches and drafts for La fanciulla, it would appear

that this indecisiveness was endemic to the early stages of Puccini's compositional


Sketch II on Koch 989.5 is problematic at every turn. The only things that

seem certain are that Puccini intended its textless melody to be sung by a small

group of sopranos and that he eventually intended it as Liu's funeral march

in what is now Act III of the opera (although, as I shall argue below, this

could not have been the place in the opera for which it was originally conceived).

Both its setting and its eventual destination are evident from inscriptions that

appear above and to the left of the sketch: 'Lento/Liju cantato da pochi soprani' and 'ottimo/marcia/morte/Liu'. Beyond this, the sketch gives rise to two imme-

diate questions: how many bars does it contain and in what order are they

to be played; and did the sketch survive, even if only indirectly, in the finished


To facilitate discussion of the first question, Example 5 presents a modified

transcription of Sketch II. The problem concerning both the number of bars

and their intended sequence arises from two points of uncertainty: (1) a possible

conflict between the direction 'qui ---', which seems to imply that bar

4 be played in place of bar 2, and the 'da capo' indication, which seemingly

makes sense only if all four bars are performed; and (2) the possibly ambiguous

meaning of that 'da capo' indication.

If we disregard the indication 'qui ---', but take heed of the 'da capo',

the '0' signs, and the indications for '2a volta' and '3a [volta]', we may interpret

Sketch II as consisting of eight bars that are performed in a straightforward, four-plus-four sequence: 1 2 3 4 / 5 6 7 8. Such an interpretation, which takes

the 'da capo' sign to mean that one returns only to the harmonies of the opening bar, results both in a neatly symmetrical arrangement - a frequent characteristic

of the 'big' melodies in Turandot - and in the melodic/structural parallelism

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Newly discovered sketches for Puccini's Turandot













i I"' l i :b f \

Ier 3r 1 I r I 15 0 r I? f

[5] [6]

[7] [8]


TAW%J OT ^^- - f tPrf

~ ~


, :I: A



, t-

I a

i : A


^ - ' Jr_


' -


I. ~-W



} I J


Ex. 5. NYpm, Koch 989.5, staves 4-8, m

Blank bars with indications to repeat are silent

signatures, accidentals, rests and dots; notes

the first bar on the lowest staff is followed - succeeds it; and bracketed bar numbers are add

of bars 2 and 6. This solution is, I believ

either (1) takes the 'da capo' to mean a retu

of bar 1, in which case the sketch wo










; or

(2) understands

only to the harmony of bar 1 but als

'qui---', in which case Sketch II would contract to six bars:


The second question about Sketch II concerns its relation

version of the opera. Although Puccini indicated that the s as Liiu's funeral march, which follows her torture and suic music of the sketch fails to appear there - at least not liter

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Allan W. Atlas

Liu's cortege (beginning at 32) is built around a reprise of her own 'Tu, che

di gel sei cinta'.

Yet echoes of Sketch II seem to permeate the opera. First, there is at least a 'family' resemblance between Sketch II and Liu's 'Tu, che di gel sei cinta'

itself (see Ex. 6). Sketch II and Liu's aria share minor/modal settings, frequent



t ,

con dolorosa espressione

_ ow






Tu, che di gel_ sei cin - ta, da tan-ta fiamma Andantino mosso J =69

271 (con un poco d'agitazione)

con dolorosa espressione



f4 -b


, b



':,J r r Mr.fX



r rL-

Ex. 6. Turandot, Act III/Quadro 1, Liu's 'Tu, che di gel sei cinta' at 27

phrase endings on the first and fifth degrees of the scale, and persistent accents

on the 'off' beats of the bar. And finally, the last reprise of Liu's aria in the

cortege (34/+3) is sung only by the first sopranos of the choir, which coincides

nicely with Puccini's indication that the textless vocal line of Sketch II was

intended to be sung by 'pochi soprani'.

Similarly, both the melody and the F sharp minor tonality of Sketch II call

to mind one of the phrases in Turandot's 'In questa reggia': the phrase that

sets 'OPrincipi, che a lunghe carovane', a melody itself closely related to Liu's aria and sharing with Sketch II an accompaniment of parallel seventh chords

(see Ex. 7).

Still a third possible reminder of Sketch II - perhaps the strongest of all

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O Prin- ci-pi,chealunghe ca-ro - va - ne d'ogni


- nor - me!


-nor - me!

- nor - me!



I.Tempo poco rit:



a tempo

.**- *^, A^





TURANDOT cresc. e fremendo

par - tedelmon-doqui ve - ni







- rit:

a tempo

_T^' fT.T i

voi, su voi quel-la pu - rez - za,quel gri - doequel-la mor - te! Quel

Ex. 7. Turandot, Act II/Quadro 2, Turandot's 'O Principi', at 46/+3

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Sop. I

n f a 4

Allan W. Atlas

(Confuso vociare di gente impaurita.

Urla. Proteste. Invocazioni.)


=:LO- I1- ,-- X


















Oh, cru- de - li! Pel cie-lo,

Sop. II





Oh, cru- de - li! Oma-dre

1 '*i - I $ $ h|i- I $ r



*i - iB

Oh, cru - de - li! Pel cie-lo,


-I - 1

GUARDIE Pel cie-lo, fer - mi!

(Respingono la folla. Nell'urto molto


In-die-tro, ca -ni! In-die-tro,ca- ni!

Largo sostenuto J = 58

51 .


i is

. -ff


ti .












figures, w
















1991), 107ff.

Score', i

orchestral m


[from] the


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Newly discovered sketches for Puccini's Turandot


r I IQ r ;rr I - 11

fer -mi! Ahi! I mie bim - bi!

Mi ' t f 1 7 n 7 r F0 6 ' 1

mi a! Crude


i! 0

madre mia! Cru- de - li!

^ -T ~ ! |T ^n Y I ^[p 7 11

* fer - mi! Crude - li! Pel cie- lo, fermi!







Fermi! Fermi!

t zrI- I 711

In-dietro, ca - ni! In-die-tro,

^Ex. 8. Tura , At I, at

Ex. 8. Turandot, Act I, at 4

nants; both employ accented articulations that fall on weak beats; both use

either a sustained or reiterated pedal tone in the bass, though Sketch II repeats

the dominant, whereas the passage from Act I sustains the tonic; and, of course, both sketch and orchestral motif are in F sharp minor. 1

Finally, one other passage in Act I is related to Sketch II, at least in terms of genre: the first-act funeral march for the Prince of Persia. As one would expect of a funeral march, it shares with Sketch II a minor key (E flat), but

also has in common the off-beat accents and a pedal in the bass (though sustained

and on the tonic). Its melody, however, makes extensive use of the augmented second, an interval that never appears in Sketch II. In the end, perhaps Sketch

II was the progenitor of all the quasi-modal-sounding melodies just cited. And

though the Persian Prince's funeral music might well be - at least melodically

- the furthest removed from Sketch II, it is the very one to which we shall


Two final comments about Sketch II concern its key and the p

The Act I orchestral passage eventually moves chromatically through G minor (at

up to A flat minor (at 6).

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Allan W. Atlas

in the opera for which it was intended. As is well known, when Puccini died

on 29 November 1924 he left Turandot unfinished, having completed the orches-

tration of Act III only up to the end of Lii's cortege, which ends solidly in

E flat minor. From that point on, most of the opera remained in sketches and

short-score continuity drafts (eventually realised by Franco Alfano), these begin-

ning with Calaf's 'Principessa di morte', which, since it begins in A minor

- with an open A-E fifth12 - sets up an augmented-fourth relationship with the end of Liu's funeral music. Furthermore - and the tonal clash aside - the

dramatic action of the concluding scenes sees Turandot enact something of an

unmotivated psychological turnabout. Both aspects of the conclusion have given rise to criticism and questions.

In discussing the sketches with respect to the shift from E flat minor to A minor, Jiirgen Maehder has speculated: 'It is hardly possible that [Puccini] did

not intend to insert a transition between the E flat minor chord after Liu's

death and the [A minor] sonority at the beginning of the duet'.13 Likewise,

William Ashbrook and Harold Powers refer to the E flat minor/A minor juxtapo-

sition as being 'abrupt and savage'.14 As for the implausibility of Turandot's psychological about-face, Mosco Carner speaks of Puccini's 'fundamental mis-

calculation', which he sets about to correct as follows:

A possible solution

might have been to let the curtain come down after the funeral

procession, insert a symphonic interlude

happen in the ensuing scene

Puccini lived to complete the opera, he might have considered some such changes,

possibly after having seen the first production - as was the case with Butterfly.15

preparing the audience for what is to

It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that, had

Now, there are some things about which we can only guess: (1) would Puccini

have found the juxtaposition of E flat minor and A minor jarring, (2) would

he have written a transition to soften it, (3) would that transition possibly have

been long enough to prepare the audience for Turandot's change of heart, and

(4) to get to the crux of the matter, could Sketch II have been intended as

the transition that Carner had in mind: that is, was Sketch II intended to follow

the E flat minor cortege - a kind of interlude-like 'funeral march after the funeral

march' - or was it meant to stand in its place? However we might answer these questions, the F sharp minor of Sketch II seems significant. If Puccini conceived Sketch II as the funeral march per se, the move from its F sharp

minor to the A minor of 'Principessa di morte' would have connected the two

sections with the relatively seamless tonal articulation of a minor third. On

the other hand, were the F sharp minor sketch intended as the 'funeral march

after the [E flat minor] funeral march', as I have called it, its F sharp minor

12 The page that contains the draft of the beginning of this section is reproduced in Carner,

'Puccini (5) Giacomo', The New Grove, XV, 436, and in Maguire (see n. 3), 323.

13 Maehder, 'Studien' (see n. 3), 316: 'Es ist kaum vorstellbar, daf keinerlei Uberleitung zwischen dem verklingenden es-Moll-Akkord nach dem Tod Lius und den heftigen

Akkordschlagen des Duet-Beginns geplant war'.

14 Ashbrook and Powers (see n. 10), 134.

15 Carner, Puccini: A Critical Biography, 2nd edn (New York, 1974), 486-7.

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Newly discovered sketches for Puccini's Turandot


becomes structurally even more significant, since not only does it mediate the

juxtaposition of E flat minor and A minor, but it does so in a symmetrical

way, standing precisely half way between those two keys. Finally, if an expanded version of Sketch II were intended to follow the present

funeral march for Liu, and thus serve as an interlude between the cortege and

the final scenes, it would not have been without its generic precedents in Puccini's

operas. Indeed, as a possibly wordless setting for 'pochi soprani', the sketch

recalls both the 'Humming Chorus' of Madama Butterfly, which, together with

the symphonic Intermezzo that follows it, helps bridge the gap between Parts

1 and 2 of that opera's second act, and the eleven-bar chorus for sopranos

that appears between the acts of the revised, two-act version of Puccini's first

opera, Le Villi.

Sketch III, as did Sketch II, bears an inscription that locates its place in

the opera: 'al sorger della luna'. This, of course, must refer to what is now

the Act I 'Hymn to the Moon',16 in which the sopranos ask 'Perche tarda

la luna?'; there is the lighting direction 'Qui la luna comincia a splendere';17

and the chorus confirms 'Pu-Tin-Pao! La luna e sorta!'

Despite Puccini's initial fondness for the sketch - witness his annotation,

'buono' - its music fails to appear in the finished opera, at least not in literal

fashion. It did, however, leave some recognisable traces. As the 'cleaned-up' transcription in Example 9 shows (for a diplomatic transcription, see Ex. 1),

ML -s.Np,Koh99 t -1mdfied t[ anXt


b b- : 4 y ,(p

Ex. 9. NYpm, Koch 989.5, staves 9-12, modified tr

the sketch contains both melodic chromaticism and pil

(superimposed augmented and diminished fourths),

feeling of a strong tonal centre, and capture succinc

the moon has in the drama. Example 10, on the ot segment from the 'Hymn to the Moon' as it appear

16 The Mandarin sings the very words 'al sorger della luna' in his However, since the words in Sketch III constitute a 'cue' rather

possibility that the sketch refers to the Mandarin's words is rem

by the Sketch III music itself, which is unlike that for the Mand

17 This direction had been prepared by an earlier stage direction:

a poco a poco si e oscurato'. On Puccini's meticulous attention to especially in the latter stages of his career, see Helen Greenwal

and Musical Structure in Puccini's Operas', Ph.D. diss., The Cit

York (1991), esp. Chapter VI.

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Sop.I. II.




Sop. I. II.


squal - li-da!

Allan W. Atlas

0 ta - ci - tur - na!

-PA ~~~[ (Violini ed Ottavino)

0 aman-te smun-ta dei mor - ti!




0 ta- ci-ur - na,


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Newly discovered sketches for Puccini's Turandot 189

Sopr. I

Sopr. II





Sopr Co -me a- spet - tano il tuo fu



J> J




mo - stra - ti in cie - lo!





- iilU iii-

Ex. 10. Turandot, Act I, 'Hymn to the Moon', 17/+9

the opera. Clearly, the dissonance and lack of strong tonal feeli

Yet Puccini's initial idea of greeting the moon with a twis lingers on, even if only as a decorative overlay of sorts w

and clearly defined D major.

There is a further notable difference between Sketch III a

the Moon', one that calls forth a question, perhaps, about

in Example 9. In the 'Hymn to the Moon', the motif that

the words 'o taciturna' will appear three more times, each time

so that the four statements define momentary tonal cent and F.18 Thus the four-part sequence moves steadily upwa

sketch - at least as I offer it in Example 9 - presents its own

in downward motion, the first part on A (with reference t

second on G. And much as we might be inclined to reverse the

with the three bars on staves 9-10 (see Fig. I and Ex. 1

conflict with the seemingly unambiguous '? al segno' indication

Sketch III, then, shows that Puccini reacted to the idea of

early in his work on Turandot, and underscores once again

the visual aspects of opera. And if this has usually been interpre

8 The three subsequent statements set 'O testa mozza' on E flat, 'O faccia

and 'Dilaga in cielo' on F.

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Allan W. Atlas

to large-scale spectacle and colour,19 it extends just as well to the smallest

details of lighting effects, including those called for by the changes of hue that occur during the course of the day.20 Indeed, it is about precisely those changes

that Puccini wrote to one of his two librettists, Giuseppe Adami, during the

summer of 1921: 'L'azione comincia al tramonto e finisce colla susseguente

alba. Quel 2? atto di notte con principio d'alba alla

Mi pare dunque

esaurire coll'alba fiorita e col levar del sole.' (The action begins at sunset and ends with the following dawn. The second act is at night, the first rays of

dawn appearing at the end. So we come to an end with a rosy dawn and sunrise.)21


I should now like to look at the dating of the sketches in detail, since establishing

a date for the folio is not without its complications. Briefly, the difficulty is

that there seem to be two distinct and mutually exclusive sets of dates involved, one for Sketches I and III, the other for Sketch II.

Sketches I and III, intended respectively for the Mandarin's proclamation

and the rising of the moon, share a connection with Act I of the opera. And there are five dates that pertain to the genesis of Act I that are also relevant

to Sketches I and II1:22

1. 15 May 1920- Puccini received a draft of the libretto for Act I;

2. 26 July 1920 - he began to write down what are presumably the earliest

sketches for the opera, informing Renato Simoni: 'Gia incomincio a prelu-

dare la sera' (I've already begun to 'prelude' [meaning sketch/improvise]

the evening);23

3. 12 December 1920 - he received a new, but too wordy version of the

Act I libretto;

4. 10 May 1921 - he once again sent back the Mandarin's proclamation for

further cuts;

19 See, for example, Carner, Puccini (n. 15), 284.

20 See Greenwald (n. 17), Chapter VI.

21 The letter is printed in Giuseppe Adami, Giacomo Puccini: Epistolario (1928; rpt. Milan, 1982), 173 (No. 192); trans. in Letters of Giacomo Puccini, rev. edn by Mosco Carner, trans. Ena Makin (London, 1974), 284; it carries no specific date other than 'Sunday'.

Note that at the time Puccini wrote the letter he was thinking of Turandot as an opera

in two acts.

22 The outline that follows is based on Adami (see n. 21), 174 (No. 194); Makin, 286ff.;

Eugenio Gara, Carteggipucciniani (Milan, 1958), 490ff.; Ashbrook and Powers (see n.

10), 62ff; Ashbrook, The Operas of Puccini (1968; rpt. Ithaca, 1985), 198ff.; and Kii-Ming

Lo, '"Turandot" auf der Opernbuhne', Ph.D. diss., Ruprecht-Karls-Universitat

Heidelberg (1988), 449ff., which contains a number of previously unpublished letters from Puccini to Renato Simoni, reproduced on 396ff. In the outline, I cite specific sources only in connection with quoted material.

23 Lo (see n. 22), 407. This antedates by two months Puccini's well-known letter to Adami

of 25 September 1920: 'I filled a good number of music sheets with jottings and indications

of ideas, harmonies and tempos'; see Adami (n. 21), 169 (No. 182); Makin, 275f.

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Newly discovered sketches for Puccini's Turandot


5. 22 May 1921 - he wrote to Simoni that he was about to complete the

composition of the 'Hymn to the Moon': 'attacco la Luna e la Marcia

funebre. Per questi due episodi ho gia buon materiale e in poco tempo

li sbrighero' (I'm attacking the Moon and the funeral March. I already

have good material for these two episodes and I'll be finished with them

in short order).24

What do these dates add up to? Assuming that Sketch III, which occupies

staves 9-12, was written only after the single bar of Sketch I had been entered

on staves 1-3, we may set the terminus ante quem for Sketches I and III at

22 May 1921, the date on which Puccini wrote to Simoni with news about

the imminent completion of the 'Hymn to the Moon'. Certainly, Puccini must

have been referring to a more advanced stage of the Hymn's conception - proba-

bly a short-score continuity draft - than is represented by the still tentative,

and ultimately rejected, Sketch III.

At the other end, the terminus post quem is less clear (and less crucial). Obviously, the presence of the partial verse 'ma chi affronta il ci[mento]' in

Sketch I indicates that the libretto was far enough advanced for Puccini to set that precise line of text. But whether this point was reached in mid-May 1920

(when Puccini received the first draft), in December 1920 (when he still found

the libretto too wordy) or only in May 1921 (when he suggested that the

Mandarin's proclamation required further cuts), is unknown. The most prudent

conclusion is that Sketches I and III must date from between 26 July 1920, when Puccini wrote that he was beginning to work on his first preliminary sketches, and 22 May 1921, by which time the 'Hymn to the Moon' had pro-

gressed to at least the next stage of composition.

When we try to reconcile the above with dates for Sketch II the problem

of dating the folio as a whole comes into focus. As we have seen, Puccini indicated

that Sketch II was intended for Liu's funeral march. Three dates in particular

are relevant for the genesis of this scene of the opera:25

1. 28 August 1920 - only now has the character of Liu been created, as

witness Puccini's note to Simoni that day: 'Hai pensato bene alla nuova

immissione della piccola donna?' (Have you given serious thought to the

insertion of the little woman?);26

2. (?) December 1920 - Puccini described to Simoni his vision of what was

then being considered Act II (eventually Act III): 'Liu dice di voler restare,

tentare pieta Turandot- Buio - scena camera drappeggiato, schiave e Liu

- Turandot punta di gelosia - scena non lunga - Buio' (Liu says she wants

to remain, to tempt Turandot's pity. Darkness. Scene in a room with draperies, slaves and Liu. Turandot on the point of jealousy. Not a long

24 Gara (see n. 22), 506 (No. 797). The reference to the 'Marcia funebre' must, of course,

be to the Act I funeral march for the Persian Prince.

25 The outline is based on the sources cited in n. 22; again, specific citations are for quoted material only.

26 Gara, 495 (No. 774).

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Allan W. Atlas

scene. Darkness).27 Significantly, Puccini's conception at this point did

not yet include the death of Liiu; and

3. 3 November 1922 - in a letter to Adami, Puccini makes the first known

reference to Liiu's torture and death: 'Credo che Liu va sacrificata di un

dolore ma penso che non puo svilupparsi - se non si fa morire nella tortura.

E perche no? Questa morte puo avere una forza per lo sgelamento della


I don't see how to do this unless we make her die under torture. And

why not? Her death could help soften the heart of the Princess).28

' (I think that Liui must be sacrificed to some sorrow, but

The problem, then, is clear: the earliest date for the idea of Liiu's death -

and thus the earliest date for Sketch II, with its 'marcia morte Liiu' inscription

- is 3 November 1922, some eighteen months after Puccini had to have written

Sketches I and III. This, of course, would mean that Puccini would have filled

staves 1-3 of Koch 989.5 with Sketch I, left staves 4-8 blank, and skipped

to staves 9-12 for Sketch III. Yet the evidence provided by the extant sketches

and continuity drafts for both La fanciulla and Turandot argues against such

a scheme: Puccini did not ordinarily leave large, multi-stave gaps between


Is there a way out of this predicament? I believe that there is, though the solution is admittedly speculative. If we insist that Sketches I, II and III were

written down in the order in which they now stand, we must divorce the funeral

music of Sketch II from the character of Liiu. For whom, then, could Puccini

have originally intended it? There is only one candidiate: the Prince of Persia,

for whom, as we have seen, there is a 'Marcia funebre' in Act I. What makes

this proposition even more attractive is the 'coincidence' that (1) in the finished

opera the funeral music for the Prince of Persia follows almost immediately

after the 'Hymn to the Moon'; (2) the sketches for the 'Hymn' and what I

am now suggesting was originally music for the Persian Prince's cortege stand

one above the other (albeit in reverse order); and (3) in his letter to Simoni of 22 May 1921, Puccini mentioned that he was composing and would soon finish the music for both the 'Hymn' and the Prince's funeral. And perhaps

even Koch 989.5 itself contains a piece of evidence that supports my hypothesis:

one cannot help but notice that in the inscription between staves 3 and 4 the

name Liiu is written with what seems to be a finer-point pencil than the words

around it, and that it was, therefore, almost certainly added after the words

that come before and after.

Finally, my conjecture that Sketches I, II and III were written in the order

in which they now stand and that the funeral music for Liiu in Sketch II might

have been intended originally for the Prince of Persia, its association with Liiu

coming about only later, may shed light on the meaning of that somewhat

mysterious lower-case 'a' in the upper left-hand corner of the folio. As I

27 Gara, 496 (No. 777); the English translation is taken from Ashbrook (see n. 22), 201-2,

who translates Puccini's entire description of the scene.

28 Adami (see n. 21), 182 (No. 206); Makin, 300.

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Newly discovered sketches for Puccini's Turandot


suggested earlier, the 'a' might have belonged to a foliation system that Puccini

entered only while he was already at work on the next stage of composition,

the short-score continuity drafts, this in order to mark those pages of earlier

sketches that he wished to save. And as it turns out, the assumption that the

sketch for Liiu's Act III funeral music was originally meant for the Act I cortege

of the Persian Prince supports that notion: the 'a' would have been entered when Puccini, after rejecting Sketch II for the funeral music of the Persian Prince, later decided to recycle it for Lii's cortege and thus needed to save

the folio on which the sketch appeared.

To sum up: Koch 989.5 transmits three previously unknown sketches for

Turandot. Sketch I sets the text 'Ma chi affronta il ci[mento]' from the Mandarin's

opening proclamation and was retained in the finished opera in fairly literal

fashion. It shows how Puccini sometimes struggled with both the combination

of metre and note values and the metrical placement of a melodic/vocal phrase

within a bar of unchanging harmony. Sketch II is the most problematic, even with respect to its number of bars and their sequence. As for its place in the

opera, I believe that it was originally conceived as the Act I funeral music

for the Prince of Persia, and that only later did Puccini change its destination

to Act III, where he considered using it for Liu's cortege. As such, he may

have thought of it either as following the present E flat minor funeral music or as standing in its place. In either case, its key of F sharp minor would have softened the entrance of the A minor with which the following scene begins.

And though Puccini ultimately cast Sketch II aside, it may well have been

the progenitor of the modal-sounding melodies that form one of the strands

of musical exoticism in Turandot. Finally, Sketch III was originally intended to accompany the rising of the moon in Act I; and though it too failed to

reach the finished opera in literal fashion, its chromaticism and use of sequence

seem to have influenced Puccini's final conception of the 'Hymn to the Moon'.

In all, the three sketches of Koch 989.5 widen our knowledge - even if only

slightly - of a rather obscure corner of recent operatic history: the still largely

unknown recesses of Puccini's compositional/creative workshop.

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