Kalaf and Xi-Wang-Mu
The title character, a surpassingly beautiful but cruel princess of ancient China, has declared that she will be the bride of any prince who can answer the three riddles she will propose–but he who fails the trial shall have his head cut off. Calaf, a prince in exile from a foreign land, accepts the challenge–and, much to everyone’s surprise, he manages to come up with the correct responses to Turandot’s enigmas. When the princess still balks at marrying him, he offers a compromise: If Turandot can discover his name and origin (unknown to almost everyone in Peking) before dawn, he will not only relinquish his claim to marry her but will agree to be executed. The denouement of the tale, in which the psychologically damaged princess learns to let love into her heart, is no less satisfying for being rather predictable.