No, the heroine doesn't die in this one. In Turandot, the last opera Puccini (1858-1924) wrote, the proud princess confesses her love for the enigmatic Calaf and all ends well. The Israel Opera production of Turandot will play at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center from March 7-22. Originally directed in Barcelona by Nuria Espert, the revival here is mounted by Marco Gandini and conducted by Rani Calderon and Omer Wellber. The Israel Opera first did Turandot at Caesarea in 2000, and this production is being staged in cooperation with Barcelona. The opera is set in ancient China where princess Turandot (sopranos Sylvie Valayre, Baysa Dashnyam) refuses to wed unless her suitors can answer three riddles. If they fail, they lose their heads. Understandably, the princess (to her great satisfaction), is running out of suitors until along comes Calaf (tenors Piero Giuliacci, Antonio Nagore) incognito. He answers the riddles, won't reveal his name or parentage, and cheekily gives Turandot 24 hours to find out. She dispatches the army, and while searching, the soldiers come upon the slave-girl, Liu (sopranos Susanna Branchini, Michal Shamir), who knows Calaf and loves him. Rather than reveal his identity, she kills herself. There's also a trio of dotty courtiers: Ping (baritone Oliver Grand), Pang (tenor Felix Livshitz) and Pong (tenor Yosef Aridan) to add a bit of comedic spice. Puccini went for commedia del arte in this one, rather than the verismo (realistic) style that characterize his other operas, Espert, 72, began her acting career at age 12 in her native Spain, and founded her own company at only 24. She started to direct in 1986 and was soon in demand all over the world. Apart from Turandot, the operas she has staged include Madam Butterfly, La Traviata and Carmen. In 1988 she was also here, directing Lorca's The House of Bernada Alba at the Cameri Theater. Puccini died before he completed Turandot, which was finished by his students, principally Franco Alfano. Arturo Toscanini conducted the premiere at La Scala, Milan on April 26, 1926, and when he ended Liu's suicide aria, he stopped the performance saying to the audience: "Here the Maestro laid down his pen."