The Final Production in The Dallas Opera’s
2014-2015 “Heights of Passion” Season
A ROMANTIC FAIRY TALE
BY PYOTR I. TCHAIKOVSKY
Libretto by Modest Tchaikovsky
OPENING FRIDAY, APRIL 10, 2015, 7:30 P.M.
The First of Four Performances
In This Exclusive Engagement
The Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House
At the AT&T Performing Arts Center
SINGLE TICKETS START AT $19
DALLAS, TX, MARCH 19, 2015 – The Dallas Opera 2014-2015 “Heights of Passion” Season closes with a charming and poignant—but rarely performed work—by Russia’s greatest composer: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s 1892 “gem,” IOLANTA (Y?-LAWN-tah), a fairy tale romance with deeply serious undertones set in Medieval France.
Opening night will take place on Friday, April 10, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center. Additional performances are Sunday, April 12 at 2:00 p.m., Wednesday, April 15 at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, April 18 at 7:30 p.m. The Winspear Opera House is located at 2403 Flora Street, Dallas, Texas, 75201.
IOLANTA is a lyric opera in one act, where love and duty, deception and faith collide. Iolanta is a kind-hearted princess—blind since infancy—who has been sheltered from the world and, literally, “kept in the dark” about her condition by her over-protective father. When a young man enters her private garden, a love story begins, new insights and perspectives develop and lives are changed forever.
In an example of impeccable casting, IOLANTA stars Russian soprano Ekaterina Scherbachenko in the title role. Critic Santiago Martin Bermudez of ConcertoNet described her portrayal: “Ekaterina Scherbachenko interprets a princess full of tormented sweetness and delivers intense lyricism thanks to elegant phrasing, natural high notes and remarkable vibrato. All in all, her Iolanta is an absolute success.” Iolanta’s love interest, Count Vaudémont, will be performed by Sergey Skorokhodov, a highly regarded Russian tenor who has toured Europe performing this role in concert with the internationally renowned Anna Netrebko.
Making two American debuts in this production are Ukrainian baritone Andrei Bondarenko as Robert, the Duke of Burgundy, and baritone Vladislav Sulimsky from Belarus who will portray the role of the Moorish physician. This production also marks the returns of bass Mikhail Kolelishvili (Boris Godunov) as Iolanta’s father—King Renè, tenor Andrew Bidlack (Everest, Die tote Stadt and The Lighthouse), and bass Jordan Bisch (Lucia di Lammermoor), a “Maria Callas Award” nominee.
Soprano, Joanna Mongiardo makes her TDO debut as Brigitta; mezzo-soprano, Lauren McNeese as Laura; and mezzo-soprano, Tamara Mumford in another company debut, stars as Marta.
IOLANTA will be staged by German director Christian Räth (Fidelio, Tristan & Isolde) and conducted by Dallas Opera Music Director Emmanuel Villaume (Carmen, The Marriage of Figaro).
“While IOLANTA is rarely performed in the U.S., it has a significant following in Europe and has been a particular favorite of TDO’s Music Director, Emmanuel Villaume, who recently conducted a critically acclaimed recording of the work with Anna Netrebko for Deutsche Grammophon,” explains Dallas Opera General Director and CEO Keith Cerny. “We know that this exquisite opera will delight patrons with the lush music of Tchaikovsky, and the fairy tale love story set in southern France. We are excited to be featuring the magnificent talent of several outstanding performers, including the brilliant Ekaterina Scherbachenko – a Bolshoi Theatre sensation – in the title role, and Sergey Skorokhodov, as her adoring love interest.
“Our superb design team is working to create a new production that will transport opera-goers to a special place and time that will beautifully enhance this enchanting story. This dazzling production is sure to bring our “Heights of Passion” Season to a thrilling close; leaving audiences eagerly anticipating next season!” added Mr. Cerny.
Classical music critic Catherine Womack of D Magazine had this to say about a recent performance conducted by Maestro Villaume. “TDO music director Emmanuel Villaume was spirited and alert, keeping everything and everyone on track with great success. It’s clear that Villaume spent time going beyond the basics of rehearsing entrances with this orchestra and cast; the group as a whole seemed to have a clear understanding of exactly when and where phrases should lift or fall, swell or sigh, push or pull. It was great to hear such musicality from the pit and to hear it so thoughtfully mirrored in singer’s voices.”
IOLANTA is the last opera composed by the revered Russian genius, with a libretto written by his brother, Modest. Based on the Danish play King Renè’s Daughter by Henrik Hertz, the work premiered on December 18, 1892 at the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, Russia on a double bill with Tchaikovsky’s new ballet, The Nutcracker. It is a romanticized account of the life of Yolanda de Bar, a fifteenth-century Duchess of Lorraine. The work was performed outside Russia for the first time less than a month later, when conductor Gustav Mahler brought Iolanta to Hamburg. Mahler later conducted the work in Vienna as well. This opera was performed for the very first time at New York’s Metropolitan Opera earlier this season.
“Tchaikovsky’s final opera deserves to be known and performed more widely than it is,” says Dallas Opera Music Director Emmanuel Villaume, “and not merely because it represents his final work in this much-loved art form. In it, the composer reveals the depth and breadth of his musicality as well as his tremendous compassion for the wounded, the broken-hearted, and the lost souls walking among us.
“The most intriguing aspect of IOLANTA is the way in which the music and drama in this opera reveal the complexity of human relationships, the danger of lies, and the enlightening power of love. Like the title character herself,” Maestro Villaume adds, “we find ourselves seeking the light of truth at the heart of this tale.”
A free pre-performance lecture (“The Joy and Ronald Mankoff Pre-Opera Talks”) will be conducted one hour prior to curtain at most performances. The Dallas Opera Guild also hosts “Opera Insights,” a lively panel discussion featuring artists, directors and designers, on the Saturday afternoon prior to opening.
IOLANTA will be performed in the original Russian with English translations (supertitles) projected above the stage.
Tickets start at just $19 and may be purchased conveniently online, 24/7, at www.dallasopera.org or by contacting the friendly professionals in The Dallas Opera Ticket Services Office at 214.443.1000.
For additional details, visit dallasopera.org.
IOLANTA KEY BIOS:
EMMANUEL VILLAUME (Conductor)
(Mrs. Eugene McDermott Music Director in honor of Graeme Jenkins)
Emmanuel Villaume is in his second season as music director of the Dallas Opera and conducted Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro this season. He made his debut with the company in 1998 conducting Faust and returned to conduct Le nozze di Figaro. He is a frequent guest conductor at the world’s leading opera companies, including the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Los Angeles Opera, the Washington National Opera, Santa Fe Opera, London’s Royal Opera, the Paris Opera, Monte Carlo Opera, Venice’s La Fenice, the Munich Staatsoper, Berlin’s Deutsche Oper, the Hamburg Staatsoper, Madrid’s Teatro Real, and Buenos Aires’ Teatro Colon. He has led the Montreal Symphony in Montreal and at Carnegie Hall, the Chicago Symphony, the Boston Symphony, the orchestras of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, St. Louis, Detroit, Minnesota, Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Beethovenhalle Orchestra of Bonn, and the China National Opera Orchestra for the 2008 Olympic Games. He is currently Chief Conductor of the National Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra. He served as the Spoleto Festival USA’s Music Director for Opera and Orchestra from 2001 to 2010. Maestro Villaume has recorded for Deutsche Grammophon (including Iolanta featuring Anna Netrebko), Decca and EMI. In September, he will assume a new post as Music Director and Chief Conductor of the Prague Philharmonia, in addition to his work in Dallas.
Christian Räth (Stage Director and Scenic Designer) A native of Hamburg, director Christian Räth is renowned throughout the USA, Europe and Japan. His appearances at The Dallas Opera include Beethoven’s Fidelio and Verdi’s Luisa Miller. In 2012 Räth designed and directed the critically acclaimed production of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. He returns in 2015 to direct Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta. Other recent work elsewhere includes: Un Giorno di Regno (King for a Day) for the 2013 Glimmerglass Festival, Falstaff in Washington, Roméo et Juliette in Houston, Die Zauberflöte in Cairo and Carmen in Geneva. Future plans include projects with the Wiener Staatsoper, Metropolitan Opera, Washington National Opera, Teatro alla Scala, Milan, Portland Opera, Grand Théâtre de Genève, Opéra national du Rhin and Teatro Real, Madrid.
Ekaterina Scherbachenko (Iolanta) was the winner of the 2009 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition and member of the prestigious Bolshoi Theatre. At the Bolshoi, her roles have included Natasha Rostova in War and Peace, Mimi in La bohème, Liù in Turandot, Tatiana in Eugene Onegin, Micaela in Carmen and the title role of Iolanta. Outside her native Russia, Ms. Scherbachenko has appeared on tour with the Bolshoi at the Opéra de Paris (Palais Garnier) and at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan. She has also performed at the Opéra de Lyon, the Teatro Lirico di Cagliari, the Royal Opera House – Covent Garden, Opéra de Monte-Carlo, the Bayerische Staatsoper, and Teatro Real in Madrid. In 2014 she returned to the Glyndebourne Festival as Tatiana in Eugene Onegin, as well as to the Metropolitan Opera for La Bohème.
Sergey Skorokhodov (Count Vaudémont), tenor, makes his house debut at The Dallas Opera in this production of Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta. The Russian native has sung this part many times at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg and all over the world, often alongside soprano Anna Netrebko. Recent engagements include Ivan in The Nose at the Metropolitan Opera, Alfredo in La traviata at the Deutsche Oper Berlin and Berlin State Opera, Grigorij in Boris Godonov at the Bavarian State Opera Munich and Bacchus in Ariadne auf Naxos in Taipei. In 2015 Mr. Skorokhodov appears with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and conductor Riccardo Muti in a concert series and then goes on tour for Iolanta, again alongside Ms. Netrebko, in Monte Carlo and at the Royal Albert Hall London.
Joanna Mongiardo (Brigitta) is making her Dallas Opera debut with this role in Iolanta. Her 2014-2015 season includes a role debut in the title role of Rossini’s Semiramide with Opéra Nice Côte d’Azur and a return to the Back Bay Chorale for Mozart’s Mass in C minor. Ms. Mongiardo’s signature roles include Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier, Juliette in Roméo et Juliette, Anne Trulove in The Rake’s Progress and Blonde in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, which she has performed more than 30 times at companies including Grande Théâtre de Genève, Opéra Nice Côte d’Azur and Deutsche Oper am Rhein. Her signature concert work is Carmina Burana, which she has performed at orchestras including the Philadelphia Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, and Oratorio Society of New York.
Andrei Bondarenko (Robert, Duke of Burgundy) In the 2014-2015 season, engagements for this baritone include Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro at the Teatro Real Madrid, Robert in Iolanta with the Gürzenich Orchestra, Marcello in La bohème at Bayerische Staatsoper Munich and the Opernhaus Zürich, Rachmaninov’s Spring Cantata with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Belcore in The Elixir of Love for Israeli Opera, Eugene Onegin in Sao Paolo and the title role of Billy Budd at the Cologne Opera. He will also record the title role in Don Giovanni for Sony Classics. Recent highlights include Eugene Onegin for Oper Köln, Staatstheater Stuttgart and Glyndebourne Festival, Andrei in War and Peace for the Mariinsky Theater and his solo recital debut at the Wigmore Hall accompanied by Gary Matthewman.
Mikhail Kolelishvili (King Renè), bass, returns to The Dallas Opera for this role in Iolanta. He previously sang Varlaam in Dallas Opera’s production of Boris Godunov. In the fall of 2014, Mr. Kolelishvili made his Metropolitan Opera debut as Priest in Lady Macbeth from Mtsensk. In May 2015, he will sing the bass solo in Babi Yar with Maestro James Conlon and the Cincinnati Symphony. In 2015-2016, Mr. Kolelishvili makes his Paris Opera debut as Bonze in Madame Butterfly and Monterone in Rigoletto. He was a finalist of the BBC Cardiff voice competition and the winner of the World Voice Masters competition in Monte Carlo. Mr. Kolelishvili has sung principal guest roles at Opera Nacional de México, Opera Toulouse, Opéra Comique Paris, Opera Toulon and Israeli Opera among others.
Andrew Bidlack (Alméric), tenor, recently starred as Rob Hall in The Dallas Opera world premiere of Joby Talbot and Gene Scheer’s Everest and as Albert in last season’s Die Tote Stadt. He has also portrayed the roles of Tamino in Die Zauberflöte and Count Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia at Florida Grand Opera and as Tonio in La fille du régiment at Palm Beach Opera. Mr. Bidlack recently had his Lyric Opera of Chicago debut as The Young Collector in A Streetcar Named Desire, which he also performed alongside Renée Fleming at Carnegie Hall. Among his roles in contemporary music are Ishmael in Moby-Dick and Tancredi in The Inspector at Wolf Trap. Future appearances include Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi for Intermountain Opera Bozeman, and joining Cincinnati Opera’s Morning Star.
Vladislav Sulimsky (Ibn-Hakia), baritone, makes his Dallas Opera debut in Iolanta. Last season, Mr. Sulimsky toured with Anna Netrebko in a series of Iolanta concerts in Europe. The same tour with Ms. Netrebko will be reprised in 2015. Also in 2014, Mr. Sulimsky made his Theater an der Wien debut as Prince Nikita in Tchaikovsky’s The Enchantress. Mr. Sulimsky has appeared at Opera de Paris, Teatro alla Scala, Teatro Real Madrid and Teatro Regio Torino in the title role of Eugene Onegin. In 2009, Mr. Sulimsky was a Grammy Nominee for the Mariinsky Theatre recording of Shostakovich’s The Nose. Mr. Sulimsky has been a soloist of the Mariinsky Theatre since 2004 and is also regularly invited to sing leading roles at the Bolshoi Theatre.
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All performances are in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center unless otherwise described. Single Tickets range from $19 to $275. Family performance tickets are just $5. For more information or to make your purchase, contact The Dallas Opera Ticket Services Office at 214.443.1000 or visit us online, 24/7, at www.dallasopera.org.