Magazine article Musical Opinion

Iolanta

Magazine article Musical Opinion

Iolanta

Article excerpt

Tchaikovsky - Bolshoi Theatre

Tchaikovsky's last opera Iolanta was inspired by his reading Heinrich Hertz's King Rene's Daughter and his brother Modest wrote the libretto for its performance at the Bolshoi Theatre in 1893 and is in two acts. This matinée performance marked its 785th performance at the theatre which underscores its popularity among audiences. The production, which I saw on February 22, dates from 2015 and the sets are simplistically modern with the castle represented by a great canopy with one side in darkness and the other in bright light. The former is inhabited by the blind princess Iolanta while the other side is occupied by King Rene's court. Iolanta, as his valedictory opera, notably contains much of Tchaikovsky's finest music and has several beautiful arias and duets, and the orchestral writing is among the most perfectly beautiful and lyrical he ever wrote. The work however only lasts just ninety minutes and for this reason, an extra half hour of music from The Nutcracker was added as an orchestral prelude during which the heroine Iolanta promenades around her darkened room looking out at the audience. To add such music from The Nutcracker was a bizarre decision and there is no artistic justification apart from allowing us to hear the glorious playing of the Bolshoi Theatre orchestra for another thirty minutes.

The production is a joint effort between the music direction of Anton Grishanin and the stage direction of Sergey Zhenovach, with design and lighting by Alexander Borovsky and Damir Ismagilov respectively. …

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