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Premiere: "Jolanthe and the Nutcracker" | October 9, 2022
Musical theatre for the whole family by Lotte de BeerOmer Meir Wellber and Andrey Kaydanovskiy
A coming-of-age story between reality and fantasy, between singing and dancing: for the first time Tchaikovsky’s masterpieces, the one-act opera Iolanta and his famous ballet The Nutcracker merge into a musical theatre for the whole family with sensational costumes, a seven-headed Mouse King in the snow and a happy ending.
Artistic director of the Volksoper Lotte de Beer, music director Omer Meir Wellber and choreographer Andrey Kaydanovskiy will present their version of Jolanthe and the Nutcracker starting October 9, 2022. The imaginatively decorated dance-opera about growing up is a co-production of the Volksoper Wien and the Vienna State Ballet.
The fantasy of a blind princess
Jolanthe is a blind princess. A famous doctor can cure her, but only if she is told about her blindness. Her father, however, wants to protect Jolanthe and keeps this painful knowledge a secret from her. It is an unexpected visitor, her future lover, who finally shows the princess what it means to be able to see.
Not only in Jolanthe a rupture leads through the ordered structures of childhood to a new world, but also in Tchaikovsky’s ballet: a girl recognizes a prince in a nutcracker, with whom she sets off on a dream journey into a fairy-tale land of milk and honey. Blind Jolanthe lives in a magical fantasy: the Nutcracker music and the dancers of the Vienna State Ballet show us the world of Jolanthe’s inner eye.
"There comes a time in life when you have to decide whether to remain a blind princess or to see the world in all its imperfection. When Jolanthe finally opens her eyes and sees the world for the first time, she decides to keep her imagination to cope with the real world. Imagination makes reality bearable." Lotte de Beer
Two fairy tales become a coming-of-age story
Tchaikovsky’s last opera Jolanthe was premiered together with the fairy-tale ballet The Nutcracker at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg on December 18, 1892. 130 years later, the Volksoper Wien reunites the two masterpieces, combining two fairy-tale stories into a coming-of-age tale. Musically, the connecting link is the blind Jolanthe, who imagines her world as a Nutcracker story. Based on this idea, Omer Meir Wellber has merged Tchaikovsky’s two pieces, keeping parts of the original score but also composing new transitions.
"Sometimes we cut, edited and reassembled the score. The arrangements are very homogeneous in many places and deliberately juxtaposed in others. Breaking a complete score may seem disrespectful to some people, but to us it's freedom within ethics. Our freedom is rooted in the urge to tell a 130-year-old story for an audience of today. Tradition must be nurtured to keep it alive." Omer Meir Wellber
"The way Omer has put the music together is very logical. Not logical in the sense of musicology, but logical in the theatrical sense, in the sense of playing, feeling and timing. A free way of thinking, I like that. In a classical ballet, a love duet doesn’t say much more than ‘I love you’ and ‘I love you too.’ But modern dance can tell a whole relationship with its ups and downs in the same duet." Andrey Kaydanovskiy
Awaited Debuts and well known Ensemble
“Family productions are top priority”, that is clear to artistic director Lotte de Beer and music director Omer Meir Wellber, and so Jolanthe and the Nutcracker is the first joint production for both of them at the Volksoper Wien.
Olesya Golovneva makes her debut in the Volksoper as blind Princess Jolanthe. The Russian soprano, who started her international career at the Vienna State Opera, has won many awards and performs in leading European opera houses, such as the Semper Oper Dresden, the Hamburg State Opera, the Deutsche Oper Berlin and the Teatro Real Madrid. Her protective father is Stefan Cerny, well known to the Volksoper audience as Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte and celebrated Ochs in Der Rosenkavalier. Georgy Vasiliev will appear as Count Vaudemont and Andrei Bondarenko as Duke Robert.
Jolanthe and the Nutcracker features the dancers of the Volksoper Wien corps de ballet as flowers, candys, soldiers, mouse kings and snowflakes. In addition to Mila Schmidt as Jolanthe and Felipe Vieira as Prince Nutcracker, students of the Ballet Academy get to dance on stage.