OP0084. IOLANTHE (Tschaikowsky), Live Performance, 1994, Mariinsky Theatre, w.Gergiev Cond. Kirov Opera Ensemble; Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Galina Gorchakova, Sergei Alexashkin, Nikolai Putilin, Larissa Diadkova, etc. 2-Philips 442 796, Slipcase Edition w.Elaborate 196pp. Libretto-Booklet. Very long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 028944279627
“Composed after the completion of PIQUE DAME, Tchaikovsky worried that he had lost his creative inspiration after such a large project. He started IOLANTA with the final duet in June 1891, and despite his worries, finished composition in September and orchestration in November. The public reception was quite favorable, though Tchaikovsky was disappointed and felt he was repeating himself, especially when compared to his earlier work, THE ENCHANTRESS.
The world premiere took place on 18 December,1892 at the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg. It was conducted by Eduard Nápravník and sets were designed by Mikhail Bocharov. The premiere of the opera shared a double bill with the composer's last ballet, THE NUTCRACKER. A 1997 two-act version of Iolanta is performed regularly at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, and in Belarus.
Its first performance outside Russia was in Hamburg on 3 January 1893, with Gustav Mahler conducting. Mahler also conducted the Vienna premiere on 22 March 1900. In 2015, IOLANTA was performed for the first time at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, with Anna Netrebko in the title role.
There are only a few recordings of the opera, although Robert's aria has been recorded and performed in concerts frequently.”
“IOLANTA was Tchaikovsky's final opera, a one-acter written to play on the same bill with THE NUTCRACKER. It tells the story of a blind princess whose disability has been kept from her, and who learns of it along with the love that gives her the strength to overcome it. The composer personally preferred the opera to the ballet, but subsequent audiences have not agreed with his assessment, and IOLANTA has languished in obscurity. There are dramatic reasons for that, but from a musical standpoint this score deserves to be heard. This recording is a part of the Gergiev/Kirov/Philips series of Russian operas, and a fine cast has been lavished on it, including the luscious-voiced soprano Galina Gorchakova in the title role, baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky as Robert, to whom she has long been betrothed, and stentorian tenor Gegam Grigorian as the knight who falls in love with Iolanta and helps her gain the will to see.”
Sarah Bryan Miller
"...Somewhere in between the extremes of visceral impact and the arm's-length approach comes this new Kirov version, and in many ways the medium it strikes is a happy one. Valery Gergiev is, of course, one of the outstanding Tchaikovskians of the day. Here again he persuades a thoroughly Western-sounding Kirov Theatre Orchestra to what is surely the most refined account of the score yet recorded, and one that is never lacking energy or full-blooded attack. His is not so much a compromise approach as one which stresses fatalism and underlying sadness. The recording was made in the Kirov Theatre itself."
- GRAMOPHONE, Oct., 1993
“We all know that the record industry is pulling in its horns, and yet Gergiev’s releases come out with a regularity which one would be led to believe that there was no problem. Philips have us in their debt for the operas of many Russian composers, and the present issue is no exception.
This opera has had a very chequered history in recording, and at last here we have a performance which displays a sweep and epic atmosphere aided by superb playing and singing. Gergiev keeps the drama moving and is not afraid to keep the pace moving forward without delay which prevents stasis from setting in.
The documentation is more than adequate, giving as it does a track by track analysis introducing each passage by the first line of the libretto."
- John Phillips, musicweb-international