Tschaikowsky, Peter


Tschaikowsky, Peter

Iolanta, lyric opera in one act

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Peter Ilych Tchaikovsky – Iolanta

(b. Votkinsk, 7 May 1840 – d. St. Petersburg, 6 November 1893)

op. 69 (1891-92)
Lyric opera in one act on a libretto by Tchaikovsky
after Henrik Hertz’s play King Renè’s Daughter

“After you left, my tortures and sufferings rose in a crescendo and yesterday evening I reached a crisis. […] The real reason for my despair was that I have been making vigorous but vain efforts to work. Nothing came out but muck, and Nutcracker and King René’s Daughter [later to be renamed Iolanta] turned into terrifying feverish nightmares, so hateful that I don’t want to describe them. […] I am in such a state of mind that I have even begun to hate King René’s Daughter, when on the contrary I ought to love her. […] I feel that I can make a chef d’oeuvre out of her, but not in these circumstances.” (Tchaikovsky, letter of 3-15 April 1891)

Thus the mood that accompanied Tchaikovksy’s preliminary work on his final opera Iolanta, before even a note of it had been committed to paper. Exhausted by the completion its brilliant predecessor, The Queen of Spades (1890), he vacillated between feelings of creative aridity (“muck”) and the belief that he was about to produce the greatest stage work of his career (“chef d’oeuvre“). His brother Modest, the recipient of this candid letter and the author of the libretto, took fright at his brother’s negative attitude: “Your cooled feelings toward Iolanta have very much upset me. I fear that it is my fault […] Everything seems so bad that I have lost the desire to finish it.” Tchaikovsky, writing from New York, quickly backpedaled to rescue the project from failing before it had left the ground: “Where did no get the idea that I have become cool towards Iolanta? It is because I am more than ever in love with her that I put her off until next year. I want to make a chef d’oeuvre out of her, and I can, but to do so I must not hurry.” A few days later, on a train to Niagara Falls, he sent more lines of reassurance: “You will see; I shall write on opera to make everyone cry.” …

Read preface / Vorwort > HERE

Score Data


Opera Explorer


160 x 240 mm







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