An Enjoyable Iolanta Takes the Stage in Valencia

23/03/2019

Tchaikovsky, Iolanta: Soloists, Generalitat Valenciana Chorus, Comunitat Valenciana Orchestra / Henrik Nánási (conductor), Palau de Les Arts, Valencia, 22.3.2019. (JMI)

Iolanta © M. Ponce and M. Lorenzo

Production:

Director – Mariusz Treliński
Sets – Boris Kudlička
Costumes – Magdalena Musial
Lighting – Marc Heinz

Cast:

Iolanta – Lianna Haroutounian
Vaudémont – Valentyn Dytiuk
King René – Vitalij Kowaljow
Robert – Boris Pinkhasovich
Ibn-Hakia – Gevorg Hakobyan
Bertrand – Gennady Bezzubenkov
Alméric – Andrei Danilov
Marta – Marina Pinchuk
Brigitta – Olga Zharikova
Laura – Olga Syniakova

The season at the Palau de Les Arts continues with Tchaikovsky’s final opera in a performance notable for its solid musical direction and well-balanced cast. The attractive Mariusz Treliński staging is known to many opera lovers after its broadcast from the Metropolitan Opera four years ago (review click here). Then it was advertised as a co-production of the Met and the Warsaw Opera House, but here the notes indicate it comes from the Mariinsky in St. Petersburg. Often, as at the Metropolitan, Iolanta is part of a double bill with Bluebeard’s Castle, and this is the first time I have seen it staged as the sole opera on a program.

Mariusz Treliński brings the action into the 1920s. Vaudémont and Robert, two skiing friends who have become lost in the Vosges, find the house where the blind Iolanta lives, hidden away from the world on the orders of her father, King René of Provence. The set consists of a rotating module in the middle of the stage where Iolanta’s home is located, surrounded by a forest. It is all quite appealing, and the production makes good use of the rotating stage. The final scene is somewhat kitsch with everyone posing in front of Iolanta’s house. The costumes here are by Magdalena Musial, but I found those from the earlier performance more colorful.

The orchestra was led by Henrik Nánási, who can quite frequently be found in the pit at the Palau de les Arts and who recently conducted Iolanta at the Met (review click here). His maintained a good rhythm and supported the singers on stage very well; they were never drowned out by the orchestra. Under his baton, the orchestra was remarkable and reminded me of that great musical ensemble from a few years ago.

The part of Iolanta was performed by soprano Lianna Haroutounian, who was back in Valencia after her excellent Tosca of the previous season. If I am not mistaken, it was her debut in the character, and her interpretation was convincing. Her voice is nicely suited to the role and especially strong in the middle range. Vaudémont was sung by the young (26) tenor Valentyn Dytiuk, whose voice is that of a light-lyric tenor. I prefer a  full lyric tenor in this role, but Dytiuk has an attractive voice and a good delivery.

Baritone Boris Pinkhasovich made a positive impression as Robert of Burgundy, the friend of Vaudémont who is betrothed to Iolanta. King René from Provence was played by the well-known bass Vitalij Kowaljow, who was fine in the part, although I found him with a more reduced volume than in recent performances. The Moorish doctor Ibn-Hakia was played by baritone Gevorg Hakobyan who had just the right voice for the role. In the secondary characters, one should note the presence of the veteran bass Gennady Bezzubenkov as Bertrand, who still possesses a powerful voice. The Alméric of Andrei Danilov was correctly interpreted, as were the servants played by Marina Pinchuk (Marta), Olga Zharikova (Brigitta) and Olga Syniakova (Laura).

José M. Irurzun

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