Iolanta Pyotr Tchaikovsky
Libretto by Modest Tchaikovsky
Based on the play Kong Renés Datter by Henrik Hertz
First performed 18th December 1892 at Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg
Directed by Lysanne Van Overbeek
Conductor Paul Wingfield
With the If Opera Ensemble and resident orchestra Bristol Ensemble
Sung in Russian with English surtitles
Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford on Avon
Running time approximately 90 minutes, no interval.
Among Tchaikovsky’s canon sits what has become one of the most treasured of his operas – the fantastical, deeply moving Iolanta. This one act opera is a heartbreaking tale of the blind princess who is unaware of her disability as all those who care for her manage to keep it secret from her. Her world is one of darkness, and she believes that is how it is for everybody. Love, in the form of Count Vaudemont, however, comes to visit her and it is love’s embrace that brings back her sight.
Tchaikovsky’s ‘fairy tale’ has of course deeper meaning – the return of Iolanta’s sight is wrapped up in the notion of love’s true power but it was also in line with contemporaneous medical thinking. Whatever the background to the story, however, Iolanta is a relentlessly beautiful opera with aria after aria, and a central duet of such febrile, blistering gorgeousness that there is a growing belief that this opera sits among the very best of the composer’s work. The final exultant chorus is without question one of Tchaikovsky’s most beautiful and powerful creations.
This costumed and staged production, our first at the Wiltshire Music Centre, will create the magic of Iolanta’s kingdom and gives the If Opera ensemble a chance to sing one of the most exquisite of late 19th century Russian operas.
If Opera’s production will be directed by Lysanne van Overbeek and conducted by Paul Wingfield.
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Venue: Wiltshire Music Centre, Ashley Rd, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire. BA15 1DZ
Tickets available online or from Bath Box Office, telephone 01225 463 362
Image ‘Silent Noon’ by John Byam Shaw Courtesy of Leighton House, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea