St Petersburg, Mariinsky Theatre


one act opera

Performed in Russian (the performance will have synchronised Russian and English supertitles)
Opening of 227th season
Anna Netrebko in the opera


King René of Provence: Sergei Aleksashkin
Robert: Alexei Markov
Vaudemont: Sergei Skorokhodov
Ebn-Hakir: Edem Umerov
Iolanta: Anna Netrebko

Conductor: Valery Gergiev


Music by Pyotr Tchaikovsky
Libretto by Modest Tchaikovsky after the play Kong Renés datter by Henrik Hertz

Musical Director: Valery Gergiev
Director: Mariusz Trelinski
Production Designer: Boris Kudlička
Costume Designer: Magdalena Musial
Lighting Designer: Marc Heinz
Cinematographer: Wojciech Puś
Choreographer: Tomasz Wygoda
Animators: Michał Jankowski and Tomasz Popakul
Literary Consultant: Piotr Gruszczynski
Musical Preparation: Marina Mishuk
Principal Chorus Master: Andrei Petrenko


Iolanta, King Rene’s daughter, is blind. But the girl herself as yet does not know she is blind: Rene has issued a decree by which it is forbidden for anyone to speak of sight or light in her presence. Her father, friends and elderly nurse are all polite and gentle towards Iolanta. The King never abandons hope of his daughter being cured, though he is worried at the idea that in order for this to happen Iolanta must learn that she is blind and that she must desire to be able to see. The knights Gottfried of Vaudemont and his friend Robert arrive at Iolanta’s peaceful refuge. Robert cares little for Iolanta, to whom he has been affianced since childhood, while Vaudemont falls completely in love with the girl. Left alone with Iolanta, Vaudemont asks for a red rose by which to remember her. The girl offers him a white rose and then Vaudemont guesses that she is blind and tells her of the beauty of the world she is missing due to her blindness. Vaudemont’s words, however, do not rouse any desire in Iolanta to be able to see. In despair, King Rene threatens Vaudemont with the death penalty should his daughter not be cured. Fear for the life of the man who has now become close to her awakens in Iolanta the willingness to agree to an operation that will restore her sight. In the meantime Robert admits to the King that he loves someone else and so cannot marry his daughter.
On discovering that Iolanta can now see, the King forgives Robert and releases him from his own sacred oath, agreeing to permit his daughter to marry Vaudemont. At the wedding, all of the guests sing a thankful hymn in praise of God.

Co-production of the Festspielhaus Baden Baden

World premiere: 18 December 1892, Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg
Premiere of this production: 17 April 2009, Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg

Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Age category 12+

The magical sounds of Netrebko's soprano voice make one's soul blossom: at the start of the opera in the arioso that resembles an emerging flower bud, as if she were blindly reaching out for an emotion, while later - in Iolanta's duet with her knight – we see the whole gamut of the emotions of a human being who has just discovered he has his entire life before him: the intonations grow from inside, with ease they soar above the music, striving towards the horizon.
This magnificent opera was brilliantly performed. It was hard to believe that it was Netrebko's debut in this role – such was her confidence throughout the entire opera.

Jörg Königsdorf, Tagesspiegel, 21.07.09

Anna Netrebko conveys the touching naivety of the young blind girl surrounded by the anxious care of her maids. With increasing and greater power, the singer senses the unease that overwhelms Iolanta when she begins to guess that the world contains much more than just her own woodland paradise. And when love comes into her life it seems as if the entire noble sound and magnificence of Anna's voice open up in full. To hear her singing is a pleasure.

Monique Cantré, Reutlinger General-Anzeiger, 21.07.09


At the centre of all this action [Iolanta] was Anna Netrebko, the uncrowned Empress of all the Russias. The role was written as if specially for her, beginning with the tender lyrical passages of the innocent young girl to the pathos-laden of the rousing, sighted and loving woman. Coupled together with Valery Gergiev's orchestra, this created deeply affecting moments.

Kristina Maidt-Zinke, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 20.07.09

Iolanta is embodied on stage by Anna Netrebko with her marble-cool soprano, which yet still meets all Tchaikovsky's expectations in terms of its expressiveness. Her voice has clearly grown, it has become much richer than previously and it is moving towards Tosca and Sieglinde; at the same time, the well-known timbre remains, dazzling with its thousands of colours.

Heinz W. Koch, Badische Zeitung, 20.07.09

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