|Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky|
Anna Netrebko (Soprano)
Junho You (Tenor), Monika Bohinec (Mezzo-Soprano), Alexey Markov (Baritone), Lucas Meachem (Baritone), Sergey Skorokhodov (Tenor), Vitalij Kowaljow (Bass)
Slovenian Chamber Choir
Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra
A jewel of Tchaikovsky: “Iolanta
Already since 2011 the eyes of opera fans shine when Anna Netrebko and the opera “Iolanta” by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky are mentioned in the same breath. At that time Netrebko had wished that the one-act opera would be performed in concert at the Salzburg Festival. From 2012 to 2013 she went on tour with “Iolanta”. And in January and February 2015 she will sing the title role at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. In addition, individual concert performances in Europe (London and Lucerne) are again planned for the summer.
“Iolanta” was Tchaikovsky’s last opera and was premiered in 1892 at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg with great success. An early ‘fan’ of the opera was Gustav Mahler, who brought it to the stage of the Hamburg Opera in 1893 and to Vienna in 1900. After a long sleep “Iolanta” was slowly rediscovered from the middle of the 20th century. One-act operas need works suitable for opera schedules, with which they can be staged together – not always an easy task. Tchaikovsky is also famous in our latitudes for ballet music and orchestral works, but not necessarily for his operas. Unjustly so, as “Iolanta” teaches us.
The story of “Iolanta” is a fairy tale with a happy ending: The blind princess Iolanta is protected – almost guarded – by her father and shielded from the outside world. She doesn’t know that she is blind and ‘different’ from the sighted, nor that she is the daughter of a king. She is healed by the power of love and the will to see that is budding. The simple fairytale story is taken from the verse drama “King René’s Daughter” by the Danish writer Henrik Hertz. The libretto was written by the composer’s brother, Modest Tchaikovsky. It was set to music by Peter Iljitsch Tschaikowsky in a colourful and lavish way.
Anna Netrebko had already sung “Iolanta” before Salzburg in Baden Baden. The tour of concert performances of the opera with her, Sergey Skorokhodov, Alexey Markov and the choir and orchestra of the Slovenian National Philharmonic under Emmanuel Villaume led to Essen. There the work for the present CD was recorded live. The title role in Netrebko’s interpretation sounds as if it was written for her. Her warm, dark timbre fits perfectly. Anna Netrebko herself once said in an interview that for this role it is necessary to have a particularly wide range of timbres. Highlights of the opera include the love duet of Iolanta and Vaudémont (Netrebko / Skorokhodov) as well as the aria of the protagonist, who is seeing her for the first time.
“Iolanta” by Tchaikovsky in the harmonious instrumentation with Netrebko, Markov and Skorokhodov is a wonderful reference recording for friends of late romantic opera, Netrebko fans and the curious.
Those who would like to see the opera in a production of the Met should remember 2/14/2014: In many cities in Germany the performance from New York will be broadcast live in cinemas as part of the series ‘The MET in the Cinema!