Double Bill of Iolanta and Bluebeard’s Castle

« previous episode | next episode »

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Piotr Beczala as Vaudémont and Anna Netrebko as the title character in Tchaikovsky's Iolanta Piotr Beczala as Vaudémont and Anna Netrebko as the title character in Tchaikovsky's Iolanta (Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera)

Join us at 12:30 pm to hear the Metropolitan Opera’s double bill of Iolanta and Bluebeard’s Castle. Both operas have Valery Gergiev at the podium and Mariusz Trelinski directing.

In the one-act Tchaikovsky opera, Anna Netrebko takes the title role of Iolanta; Piotr Beczala, plays the love interest that helps the princess gain vision through love; and Aleksei Markov continues his run at the Met as Iolanta’s unwilling betrothed. Baritone Elchin Azizov and bass Ilya Bannik make their debut season – the latter taking over Alexei Tanovitski’s role as King René.

In Bartok’s opera, Mikhail Petrenko plays the dark Bluebeard; Nadja Michael, plays unsuspecting and curious wife, Judith. Trelinski’s production of Bluebeard’s Castle plays on the dark physiological elements of the opera, with its use of computer graphics, as Judith goes through every room.

Casts:

Iolanta
Conductor: Valery Gergiev
Iolanta: Anna Netrebko
Count Tristan Vaudemont: Piotr Beczala
Robert: Aleksei Markov
King René: Ilya Bannik
Ibn-Hakia: Elchin Azizov

Bluebeard’s Castle
Judith: Nadja Michael
Bluebeard: Mikhail Petrenko

Comments [4]

Reginald Campbell from Upper East Side

The Met used to be an institution I was excited to have a subscription to. I used to enjoy bringing clients here. At this point the music is needlessly obscure, the staging is grotesque and visually unsatisfying, the labor disputes are upsetting, and the cultural sensitivity is in question. In my line of business routinely making bad decisions leads to a prompt termination. Mr. Gelb is somehow insulated from the consequences of his bad decision making. If the Board members had any common sense they would have fired him a while ago.

Feb. 14 2015 03:55 PM
CastaDiva from New York, NY

I was at this last Sat. I had not seen them staged before, enjoyed them both very much, and am listening to the broadcast. And I will say here that Gergiev came across as very personable in his interview with DiDonato at the intermission.

Iolanta is described as a lyric opera, and the music is indeed, lovely. There is fine singing by all. Netrebko is best in the Russian repertory; her voice is so right for this role, and she is clearly comfortable in it. She is a very appealing Iolanta. The rest of the cast is very good, too, and noteworthy are Iolanta's two suitors, the tenor and baritone, Beczala and Markov, respectively, both in fine form. The Moorish doctor, the Azerbaijan baritone Azizov, has a pleasing baritone. The Nurse Marta, Georgian mezzo Nioradze, has a rich, splendid sound. As for the sets, they are in keeping with the fairy tale aspect of the story, a mysterious part of the forest where Iolanta lives in isolation in order to keep her blindness a secret. However, there were some odd touches, as when, during the treatment of Iolanta by the doctor (which the audience does not see), the maids shine flashlights around the gloom of the forest, but also at the audience--to put us in mind of an ophthalmologist's examination? Then, at the happy ending, a slew of extras dressed as waiters converge around the couple; since they had not been part of any of the previous decor, it made no sense. But most bizarre of all was also at that final scene, when everyone is around the happy couple, except for Ilya Bannik, playing King Rene, Iolanta's father, who is seen far in the background, standing with his back to the audience, in the manner of a man relieving himself. This lasted for several seconds. It was most peculiar, and many of us, quite bemused, commented on it afterwards.

Bluebeard is a very different kind of opera, dark and menacing, with music to match the story. Michael is wonderful as Judith, but Petrenko's Bluebeard sounded and seemed underpowered last Sat.,and very different from his impressive Prince Galitsky in Igor last season, where he was suitably evilly seductive. I did not dislike the sets as much as DPS did in his recent review here. True, there were industrial quality sets for some scenes, but given the nature of the story, they did not offend, and some sets, as the large room in the castle with the long curtains gently fluttering in a breeze, were pleasing. I expected the end, however, to be more shocking and dramatic. Instead, it was strangely ambiguous.

The Met must be commended for bringing us these two Met premiers.

Feb. 14 2015 02:42 PM
CONCETTA NARDONE from Nassau

@kbl: Happy Valentine's day to you and everyone today.

Do not know the music from these operas. Might be interesting.
Lesser known opera from Tchaikovsky: Mazeppa. In one of the scenes from High Noon, the three killers are strolling down the street and there is a billboard listing a performance of Mazeppa. I guess that town was getting a little bit of culture.

Feb. 14 2015 09:23 AM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

One can only hope that today's super cold weather does not limit the potential of the participants if this is indeed a live performance. HAPPY VALENTINES DAY EVERYONE !!!

Feb. 14 2015 08:20 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

The WQXR e-newsletter. Show highlights, links to music news, on-demand concerts, events from The Greene Space and more.