Sat | Dec 10, 2016

Met double at Carib 5 tomorrow

Published:Friday | February 13, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Tchaikovsky's Iolanta will share the stage with Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle in a Met Opera double bill, live in HD at 12:30 p.m. tomorrow at Carib 5.

This is not the first time the one-act Iolanta will share the spotlight with another work. The tradition dates back to Iolanta's 1892 world premiere in St Petersburg, when it was paired with another Tchaikovsky creation being presented to the public for the first time - The Nutcracker.

The composer had been commissioned by the Mariinsky Theatre to produce a one-act opera and short ballet for a single evening. It may be surprising to know that, at the end of that first night, Iolanta received a heartier response from the audience and critics than the ballet (an assessment with which Tchaikovsky himself agreed).

Today, of course, The Nutcracker is iconic, having dominated the world's stages for generations. On the other hand, Iolanta, though admired for the extraordinary beauty of Tchaikovsky's score, occupies space on the operatic fringe, produced only occasionally (mainly when a star soprano shows interest in the title role).

That could change this season, with Mariusz Trelinski's widely praised new production being showcased at the Met. Anna Netrebko is Iolanta, Piotr Beczala does Count Vaudemont (the man who loves her) and Valery Gergiev on the podium. "Both operas are fairy tales with a tint of fantasy and such stories usually have a deeper level," says director Trelinski. "The thing that fascinated me about these stories was that both looked at the situation of women in the shadow of a very strong, dominant male figure."

In the case of Iolanta, this dynamic is represented by the mythical King Rene, who keeps his beautiful blind daughter under lock and key, sheltering her so completely from the outside world that she remains unaware that she suffers from blindness, the concept of sight never having been explained to her.

In Bluebeard's Castle, the heroine, Judith, seeks out the mysterious Bluebeard, wilfully entering into a charged relationship with a man who may or may not be a murderer. The outcome of each story is markedly different.

"Iolanta ends with the girl freeing herself from her possessive father. She experiences great love with her prince - it's a classic happy ending," Trelinski explains. "In Bluebeard's Castle, the situation is exactly the opposite. Judith abandons her family, her fiancé, her peaceful existence, to come to a suspicious, deadly place. Why would one give up all that is dear and beautiful to enter into such a strange relationship? What kind of force pushes us to such a confrontation? For me, it is about the intricacies of human sexuality."

The next live transmission will be Rossini's La Donna del Lago on Saturday, March 14.

Tickets are on sale for the 2014/2015 season at participating cinema box offices and via the web at www.palaceamusement.com, with a Palace Card.

(Editor's note: This release is adapted and edited from an article by Matt Dobkin, first published online in December 2014 and in the Met's

Playbill in January 2015).