Alain Altinoglu | Dmitri Tcherniakov | Orchestre, Chœurs et Ballet de l’Opéra de Paris

Tchaikovsky : Iolanta / The Nutcracker

To bring together again, for the first time since their premiere on a December evening in Moscow, Tchaikovsky’s opera Iolanta and ballet The Nutcracker, was the audacious challenge that Russian stage director Dmitri Tcherniakov accepted for the Palais Garnier in Paris in March 2016 : a revolutionary production, which was to become one of the key events of the Paris Opera season.

With great intelligence, Tcherniakov renews the dialogue between the two masterpieces, and reveals their common origins. He thus reminds us that both Iolanta and The Nutcracker are first and foremost initiatory journeys, in which the heroes experience love and loss, fortune and misfortune. In doing so, Dmitri Tcherniakov, with the collaboration of contemporary choreographers Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Édouard Lock and Arthur Pita, goes as far as to completely disregard the magical extravaganzas that Marius Petipa associated to The Nutcracker, and radically turns the dream into a nightmare dominated by despair and loneliness. Tchaikovsky indeed scattered his music with a profound melancholy all too often overlooked, he who grew weary of the ballet’s candor when writing the score, and he who was bringing back, with the Sugar Plum Fairy, the memory of a recently lost sister…

To insure the continuity and a sense of dramatic consistency between the opera and the ballet, Tcherniakov skillfully modulates the space provided by the Palais Garnier. A solution that also enables him to question the very nature of both theater and illusion, as well as their specular relationship with the reality they try to make us forget.

Bulgarian soprano Sonya Yoncheva delivers an flamboyant interpretation of the blind princess Iolanta, and shares the stage with Polish tenor Arnold Rutkowski and Ukrainian bass Alexander Tsymbalyuk. The internationally renowned French conductor Alain Altinoglu joins forces with the Paris Opera Orchestra and Chorus, while the Paris Opera Ballet, among which Marion Barbeau– a radiant Marie – and the Étoiles Stéphane Bullion and Alice Renavand, reinvents the most popular ballet of all times.

Press review

«With Mr. Tcherniakov at the helm, the performance is sprawling yet elegant — beautifully conceived, intellectually stimulating, emotionally suggestive and notable for the extraordinary Iolanta sung by the young soprano Sonya Yoncheva.» – The New York Times

«Lock’s frenetic choreography had a nervous itchy quality, but an exciting physicality, while Cherkaoui offered a more romantic approach, beautifully danced by Marion Barbeau as the Iolanta/Marie character and Stéphane Bullion as Vaudémont, with an elegant contribution from Alice Renavand as Marie’s mother/Martha. It was a fascinating evening of theater for those who—like the composer himself—find the original story of the ballet cloying» –

«Sonya Yoncheva triumphed as Iolanta. Her lyric soprano has a creamy lower register, yet has clarity and strength at the top. She is also a deeply affecting actress, playing ‘blind’ totally convincingly» –

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Tchaikovsky : Iolanta / The Nutcracker [DVD & Blu-ray]

Music : Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)

Opera in one act (1892)

Libretto : Modest Tchaikovsky
after La Fille du roi René by Henrik Hertz

Iolanta : Sonya Yoncheva
Vaudémont : Arnold Rutkowski
King Rene : Alexander Tsymbalyuk
Robert : Andrei Jilihovschi
Ibn-Hakia : Vito Priante

Ballet in two acts (1892)

Libretto : Dmitri Tcherniakov

Ballet de l’Opéra de Paris

Marie : Marion Barbeau
Vaudémont : Stéphane Bullion – Danseur étoile
The father : Aurélien Houette
Drosselmeyer : Nicolas Paul
The mother : Alice Renavand – Danseuse étoile

Orchestre et Chœurs de l’Opéra de Paris
Maîtrise des Hauts-de-Seine

Conducted by : Alain Altinoglu

Stage direction and sets : Dmitri Tcherniakov

Choreography : Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Édouard Lock, Arthur Pita

Costumes : Elena Zaitseva
Lighting design : Gleb Filshtinsky
Video : Andrey Zelenin
Chorus master : Alessandro di Stefano

technical informations

HD recording : Opéra national de Paris (Palais Garnier) | 03/2016
TV direction : Andy Sommer
Release date : 26 October 2018
Distribution : Naxos Distribution

: BAC145
Barcode : 3760115301450
Running time: 241 min.
Film : 188 min.
Bonus : “Iolanta / The Nutcracker : behind the scenes” (53 min.)
Booklet : FR / ENG / GER
Subtitles : FR / ENG / GER / SPA / JAP / KOR
Image : Color, 16/9, NTSC
Son : PCM 2.0, Dolby Digital 5.1
Region code : 0

Reference : BAC445
Barcode : 3760115304451
Running time : 241 min.
Film : 188 min.
Bonus : “Iolanta / The Nutcracker : behind the scenes” (53 min.)
Booklet : FR / ENG / GER
Subtitles : FR / ENG / GER/ SPA / JAP / KOR
Image : Color, 16/9, Full HD
Sound : PCM 2.0, DTS HD Master audio 5.1
Region code : A, B, C

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