Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky / Béla Bartók

Iolanta/Bluebeard’s Castle

Mariusz Treliński’s haunting production of the pairing of Tchaikovsky's and Bartók's one-act operas makes its first return to the stage since its Met premiere in the 2014–15 season. Soprano Sonya Yoncheva—following her triumphant 2017–18 performances as Tosca—is the blind princess, Iolanta, who discovers love for the first time, opposite tenor Matthew Polenzani as the dashing knight Vaudémont. In Bartók’s chilling Bluebeard’s Castle, baritone Gerald Finley is the menacing Bluebeard, and soprano Angela Denoke is his initially unsuspecting new wife. Henrik Nánási conducts.

Production a gift of Ambassador and Mrs. Nicholas F. Taubman

Additional funding from Mrs. Veronica Atkins; Dr. Magdalena Berenyi, in memory of Dr. Kalman Berenyi; and the National Endowment for the Arts

Co-production of the Metropolitan Opera and Teatr Wielki-Polish National Opera

Read Synopsis
  • Sung In
  • Russian
  • Met Titles In
  • English
  • German
  • Spanish
  • Italian
  • Estimated Run Time
  • 3 hrs 22 mins
  • House Opens
  • Iolanta 98 mins
  • Intermission 37 mins
  • Bluebeard's Castle 67 mins
  • Opera Ends
Jan 24 - Feb 14 Subscribe Now

Cast

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World Premiere: Mariinsky Theater, St. Petersburg, 1892; Royal Opera House, Budapest, 1918

Iolanta, Tchaikovsky’s final opera was commissioned by St. Petersburg’s Imperial Theatres as part of a double bill with a new ballet—which became The Nutcracker. Although Iolanta, unlike its companion piece, has remained relatively unknown outside of Russia, it is prime operatic Tchaikovsky and overdue for discovery by the world at large. Bluebeard’s Castle is Bartók’s only opera and is an intense psychological journey, a powerful drama of inner emotion, and a tour de force for two singers (and the orchestra). In it, the bride Judith prods Bluebeard to open seven doors, each of which reveals an aspect of Bluebeard’s life, material possessions, and, by extension, his mind. 

Creators

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840–1893) enjoyed tremendous fame during his lifetime as a composer of symphonic music and ballets. Today, his operas have also achieved a steadily growing popularity, both in Russia and around the world. Béla Bartók (1881–1945) was a Hungarian composer and an important pioneer in the field of ethnomusicology. During the first decades of his life, he was better known for his work in collecting and analyzing folk music than for his own compositions.

Production Mariusz Trelinski

Set Designer Boris Kudlicka

Costume Designer Marek Adamski

Lighting Designer Marc Heinz

Video Projection Designer Bartek Macias

Sound Designer Mark Grey

Choreographer Tomasz Wygoda

Dramaturg Piotr Gruszczynski

Composer

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky / Béla Bartók

Setting

The Met’s production of this double bill is set in an unspecified space visually inspired by the films noirs of the 1940s.

Music

The score of Iolanta contains a wealth of instantly recognizable Tchaikovskian melody, beginning with the opening scene and the title character’s first solo. Reflecting the story’s subject matter of blindness and vision, one of the score’s most instantly notable features is its highly sophisticated use of colors in both the orchestral and the vocal writing. Musicologists delight in analyzing the score of Bluebeard’s Castle, but the opera is remarkable for its ability to make a direct and powerful impression on anyone. The music is closely linked to the Hungarian text and yet gives it an acoustic power that transcends the strictly syntactic meaning.