Rarely Performed "Iolanta" in Concert -- Nutcracker's Other Half

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Russian Opera Workshop revives Tchaikovsky's Iolanta

Tchaikovsky "Iolanta" Rehearsal

Russian Imperial Theater commissioned Tchaikovsky to compose a double bill including The Nutcracker ballet and opera Iolanta.

Russian Opera Workshop will present free public concerts of Tchaikovsky's last opera Iolanta. All concerts start on July 25, 2011 with Iolanta lecture by composer Daron Hagen (Video: http://youtu.be/xqiHNTB4x6U) and a Russian Romances concert that introduces all singers. Iolanta concert performances are on July 26, 27 and 28. All events start at 7:30 PM at the Helen Corning Warden Theater at the Academy of Vocal Arts, 1920 Spruce Street in Philadelphia. Free admission. No tickets required.

Russian Imperial Theater commissioned Tchaikovsky to compose a double bill including The Nutcracker ballet and opera Iolanta. The company specifically requested The Nutcracker ballet while Tchaikovsky himself picked Iolanta based on The King Rene's Daughter by a Danish playwright Henrik Hertz. Both works premiered in 1892 at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg.

"While Tchaikovsky was in New York to conduct the opening of Carnegie Hall in 1891, he continued to work on his double bill commission," commented Ghenady Meirson, the Russian Opera Workshop founder. (Video: http://youtu.be/XqKgU6ihKOE) "His brother Modest was the librettist and based on their correspondence, the composer was anxiously awaiting the Russian translation of the Herz's play."


Ben Wager, Michael J. Davis - King René, King of Provence
John Packard - Robert, Duke of Burgundy
James Flora, Steve Williamson, James Caran - Count Vaudémont, Burgundian knight
Edward Albert, Jeff Chapman - Ibn-Hakia, Moorish Healer
James Flora, Steve Williamson, James Caran - Alméric, King René’s armor-bearer
Ben Wager, Michael J. Davis - Bertrand, gatekeeper of the castle
Shelley Jackson, Jaclyn Surso, Kirsten Kunkle - Iolanta, blind daughter of King René
Cynthia Cook, Jessica Kasiniski - Marta, Bertrand's wife, Iolanta's nursemaid
Shelley Jackson, Jaclyn Surso, Kirsten Kunkle - Brigitta, Iolanta's friend
Cynthia Cook, Jessica Kasiniski - Laura, Iolanta's friend


Master Classes

July 15, 2011 at 1:00 PM

Danielle Orlando, Master Coach
Curtis Institute of Music and Academy of Vocal Arts

July 18, 2011 at 1:00 PM

Rossen Milanov, Conductor
Princeton Symphony, Music Director
Symphony in C, Music Director
Philadelphia Orchestra, Associate Conductor

July 19, 2011 at 1:00 PM

David Hayes, Conductor
Philadelphia Singers, Music Director
Curtis Symphony Orchestra, Staff Conductor

July 20, 2011 at 1:00 PM

Vera Danchenko-Stern, Russian Coach
Peabody Conservatory, Faculty
Washington Opera, Russian Coach


July 25, 2011 at 7:30 PM

Composer Daron Hagen's lecture on Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta and introducing
the artists in a Russian Romances concert

July 26, 27 & 28 - 7:30 PM

Tchaikovsky: Iolanta
Opera in concert. Free admission.

Iolanta Synopsis
From early childhood King Rene's blind daughter Iolanta is betrothed to Robert, Duke of Burgundy. Rene shelters Iolanta prohibiting everyone around her to reveal to her that she is blind. Desperately trying to cure Iolanta of blindness, before Robert discovers the truth, Rene summons a great Moorish Healer to help him. The Healer insists that Iolanta must know of her misfortune before the desire to see can be awakened in her. Robert's friend Vaudemont meets and falls in love with Iolanta. Inadvertently, Vaudemont reveals to Iolanta that she is blind. Rene condemns Vaudemont to death. The threat of Vaudemont's death awakens Iolanta's dormant desire to be able see and save her beloved.

About Russian Opera Workshop
First of its kind, Russian Opera Workshop is an independent summer training program for aspiring and professional opera singers. Founded by Ghenady Meirson, faculty member at both the Academy of Vocal Arts and the Curtis Institute of Music, the program offers international opera singers an intense one-month Russian immersion program, culminating with free public concerts.


Russian Opera Workshop


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Ghenady Meirson
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