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Tchaikovsky: Iolanta / Stravinsky: Perséphone [Blu-ray]
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Sellars uses the same set for Stravinsky's Perséphone to great effect with changing backdrops and lighting giving the simple frame structures a completely different feel. Whilst I felt Stravinsky's piece was less compelling musically it was beautifully performed and had the additional interest of the Cambodian dancers from Amrita Performing Arts who shadowed the story in their unique form of ballet.
The one-act work is centered around the blind Iolanta, daughter of King Rene in 15th century Provence, who doesn't know she differs from anyone else. The story is strong and dark, and I won't spoil the ending, but it is terribly moving. Tchaikovsky rises to the occasion with much music that is eloquent. It's hard to know where to start with the successes of this 2012 Madrid production. The singing is universally fine, with a largely youthful Russian cast offering clear and pure vocalism, with especially strong enunciation. Iolanta is eloquently portrayed by a silver-voiced Ekaterina Scherbachenko, evoking a radiant presence. Veteran Willard White not only looks the part of the Moorish physician Ibn Hakia, but also sings powerfully and evocatively, although not as clearly as the Russian cast.Read more ›
Persophone is a little bit more difficult. The libretto by Andre Gide is quite dense and needs full attention. I am sure something is missed in the translation to English for those who don't understand French. I was not convinced by the minimalistic approach. I felt something was missing, in particular because it is difficult to visualize the transition between the abduction, Hell and then back to Earth. The Cambodian dancers are a nice addition although at some points it gets a little bit confusing. The general theme is too big for an intimate production in my opinion. Sellars linked both operas as the search for light, which is interesting and meaningful. The pamphlet enclosed in the Blu-Ray disc lacks more details on the operas themselves.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Iolanta is a shamefully neglected short opera by Tchaikovsky and it is given a beautiful, minimalist staging here with wonderfully sensitive interpretations by a cast largely... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Noel Bjorndahl
Completely awful. The "Persephone" is especially bad. Don't waste your money on this mess.Published 15 months ago by D. Miller
Let me say at once that my mere four stars does not in any way reflect on the quality of disc, performances, or production, all of which seemed to me very good indeed. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Phyllis A. Karr
I don't have a lot to say about this. But I do have objections to the lack of props in the Tchaikovsky. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Joseph L. Ahern
Wonderful production and interesting opera, not done very often where I live.Published 17 months ago by Herman M. Winkels Jr.
,,, is how much more I enjoyed the Tchaikovsky "Iolanta" than the Stravinsky "Persephone!" Tchaikovsky's music for this brief opera sounds bold and original, while Stravinsky's... Read morePublished on February 28, 2013 by Gio
I am a grumpy old lady who hates minimalist productions. And the same set and same costumes are used for two very different operas!! Read morePublished on January 24, 2013 by Barb B
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