NYC’s Metropolitan Opera puts trigger warning on Puccini masterpiece ‘Turandot’ in bow to woke culture

the metropolitan opera house; a program; a performance of turnadot
the metropolitan opera house; a program; a performance of turnadot

They’re striking a chord with the woke crowd.

New York City’s famed Metropolitan Opera added a website trigger warning for prospective ticket buyers to Giacomo Puccini’s “Turandot,” informing audiences that the 1926 masterpiece set in ancient China could be offensive.

“It is rife with contradictions, distortions, and racial stereotypes,” reads a program note promising “a discussion of the opera’s cultural insensitivities.”

“Turandot” is Giacomo Puccini’s last opera — and one of his grandest. Helayne Seidman
“Turandot” is Giacomo Puccini’s last opera — and one of his grandest. Helayne Seidman
The Metropolitan Opera has taken to putting trigger warnings on controversial works. Helayne Seidman
The Metropolitan Opera has taken to putting trigger warnings on controversial works. Helayne Seidman

“It shouldn’t be surprising . . . that many audience members of Chinese descent find it difficult to watch as their own heritage is co-opted, fetishized, or painted as savage, bloodthirsty, or backward,” the note continues.

The opera opened Feb 28 and will run through June 7 at Lincoln Center — with top tickets in the Parterre balcony going for $500.

It tells the story of the brutal, man-hating princess Turandot. Anyone seeking her hand in marriage must answer three riddles, and are put to death if they fail.

Eventually one suitor, Calàf, is triumphant but not before many twists and travails.

The Met’s website calls the 3 hour, 20 minute show a “problematic masterpiece.”

“I’ve never ever heard of any such warning on any opera ever,” Atarah Hazzan, 88, a soprano who has performed at the Met and played Turnadot herself in the 1980s.

Turandot takes place in ancient China and has been performed around the world for nearly 100 years. Getty Images
Turandot takes place in ancient China and has been performed around the world for nearly 100 years. Getty Images

“The Met has become very sensitive to many things,” Hazzan, who still works as a voice coach in Manhattan, added.

Norman Lebrecht, a critic and owner of the influential music blog Slipped Disc, dismissed the program note as “manufactured racial exasperation.”

“Trigger warnings exist to cover the heightened legal anxieties of theater administrators and the lately-inflated sensitivities of underpaid auxiliaries. They are bad for business and they should be scrapped,” he said.

“Turandot has fictional Chinese characters. If that bothers you, stay away,” he added.

Turandot, Puccini’s last work, is one of the opera world’s most regularly performed warhorses, featuring the iconic aria Nessun dorma among other memorable numbers. It was first performed at the Met in 1926.

The current revival was created by Italian director Franco Zeffirelli and has been performed more than 200 times at The Met since its premier in 1987.

The Met website boasts of a Post review of its original debut calling it “a big, eye catching, densely-packed, opulent new production.”

Phoene Yang, a generative AI researcher who is Chinese and saw the show this week, said she was unbothered by the opera.

“Personally, I agree with most of the opinions in that note. For audiences born or raised in China, racial stereotypes in Turandot are easily noticeable. But I think traced it back to the time Turandot was created, and all of this becomes understandable,” she said.

After the death of George Floyd, the Met took a decidedly woke turn vowing to reorient itself as an “anti-racist organization that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive.” A chief diversity officer position was created, and anti-racism training was mandated for senior managers.

Alongside Verdi and Puccini, the Met now features an opera about the life of Malcolm X and another based on the autobiography of Charles Blow, a progressive New York Times columnist.

After the death of George Floyd, the Metropolitan Opera looked to explore more “diverse” themes. Helayne Seidman
After the death of George Floyd, the Metropolitan Opera looked to explore more “diverse” themes. Helayne Seidman

Under the leadership of Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, the organization has faced financial crisis and has been repeatedly been forced to tap into its endowment to cover operating expenses.

“The curators of our great traditions are betraying the legacy that it is their privilege to oversee in order to virtue signal on matters of race and identity,” said Heather Mac Donald, a cultural critic at the Manhattan Institute and frequent Met attendee.

“At some point all of opera is going to be in an extremely precarious position because it comes from a different world, a different set of sensibilities, the narratives are traditional.”

The Met did not respond to request for comment from The Post.