The Ambiguity in Turandot: An Orientalist Perspective

  •  Hong Yu    


The paper analyzes the Orientalization of the characters in Puccini’s seminal opera Turandot to prove that the Europeans’ perception formation of Asians is a process of “Orientalizing the Orient”. Two heroines, Turandot and Liu, suit the two polar extremes of the Asian women stereotypes in the West, dragon lady and Butterfly. Imperious and malicious Turandot and submissive and self-sacrificing Liu are simplified and generalized representations made by Europeans to meet their imaginations. Furthermore, Turandot and Calaf represent the national stereotypes of China and the West respectively. The refugee Prince appears to conquer the uncivilized land controlled by Turandot, a reflection of Western masculine superiority versus Asian feminine inferiority. To reduce the Orientalism associated with the opera, Chinese artists have been endeavoring to authenticate Turandot, yet this Western creation, due to her particular Orientalized characteristics, remains her ambiguity.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1925-4768
  • ISSN(Online): 1925-4776
  • Started: 2011
  • Frequency: quarterly

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