Although Tchaikovsky's opera "Jolanthe" and his ballet "The Nutcracker" were created as a double bill for their premiere at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg in 1892, they are rarely performed together today. Nor did the two works always go hand in hand in terms of reception: while the "Nutcracker" quickly achieved lasting success and has become an indispensable part of classical ballet literature, "Jolanthe" initially met with little response from audiences and is today a little-performed operatic rarity. In her first own production at her house, the new Volksoper director Lotte de Beer, together with the new music director Omer Meir Wellber, dares an exciting experiment: the two stage works are woven together into a story about growing up and learning to see the world as it is. Musical theater for the whole family, between dance and song, with imaginative costumes, a seven-headed Mouse King in the snow and a utopian ending. Jolanthe (Olesya Golovneva) is a well-protected blind princess who is unaware of her blindness. Her father King René (Stefan Cerny) wants to withhold the truth from her, worried about causing her pain through the knowledge, even if it means she cannot be cured. An unexpected visitor, Jolanthe's future lover, finally explains to the princess what it means to be able to see. But it is not only in "Jolanthe" that a rift leads through the ordered structures of childhood into a new world, but also in "The Nutcracker," which symbolizes Jolanthe's saccharine childlike fantasy world: A girl recognizes a prince in the Nutcracker, with whom she sets off on a dream journey to a fairy-tale land of milk and honey. The Nutcracker music and the dancers of the Vienna State Ballet under the choreography of Andrey Kaydanovskiy thus depict the imaginative 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," says director Lotte de Beer.


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Wiener Volksoper