Opera Scotland

Tchaikovsky

Iolanta in Scotland

Posted 29 Oct 2017

 Iolanta received its first performance in Scotland on 26 August 1992, at the King's Theatre, as part of the Edinburgh International Festival. The staging by Martin Duncan was created by Opera North to mark the centenary of the opera's St Petersburg premiere, and, as on that occasion, it was paired in a substantial evening with Tchaikovsky's last great ballet, The Nutcracker.

While the opera was highly regarded, it was again the ballet that proved to be the lasting success, as it marked a great success for Matthew Bourne's Adventures in Motion Pictures company. His startlingly fresh interpretation - Nutcracker! - has enjoyed a lasting success.

 Both works were led by the chief conductor of Opera North, David Lloyd-Jones. An acknowledged authority on Russian music, he had been in charge of the British premiere of Iolanta in London, back in 1968. In Edinburgh, the title role was sung by Joan Rodgers, with Norman Bailey as her father and Kim Begley as Vaudémont. Clive Bayley and Robert Hayward appeared as Ibn-Hakia and Robert.

 The only subsequent performance of the work here was in a concert at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. Alexander Lazarev had first appeared in Scotland in 1990 when his Bolshoi Opera from Moscow were a centrepiece of the Year of Culture. During his subsequent years leading the RSNO, he had few opportunities to conduct opera. However, for his final concert on 23 September 2004, his choice fell on Iolanta.

 For the first time here, the piece was sung in Russian, and there were several excellent soloists. Elena Prokina took the lead, with bass Mikhail Svetlov and tenor Vitali Taraschenko. The roles of Ibn-Hakia and Duke Robert were sung by Vassily Savenko and Sergei Murgaev.

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