Tête-à-Tête is branching out ever further into new venues. Having been to a dance theatre and a nightclub, we now found ourselves in a school theatre. Fittingly, the evening’s programme was academically focused: Llywelyn ap Myrddin’s Sonata for YouTube, inspired by John Cage, and Jonathan Man’s Turandot Reimagined, which seeks to take Puccini’s orientalist opera back to ancient China.
Jonathan Man’s reimagining of Turandot traces Puccini’s icy feminist princess back to her historical roots: she was inspired by the real-life Mongol princess Khutulun, niece of Kublai Khan, who was a skilled and fearsome warrior in her own right, according to Marco Polo. Khutulun did not question her suitors as Turandot does, but rather wrestled them into submission, losers of her bouts having to pay her 100 horses: legend says she amassed a herd of 10,000 horses.