Westminster Opera Theatre presents Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta on Thursday, April 3; Friday, April 4; and Saturday, April 5 at 8 p.m. in The Playhouse on the campus of Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton, N.J. The fully staged production will be performed in Russian with English supertitles. It will include the Westminster Festival Chamber Orchestra conducted by musical director William Hobbs, who arranged the opera for chamber orchestra. The production is directed by David Paul.
Tchaikovsky’s final one-act opera, Iolanta is set to a libretto written by his brother Modest Tchaikovsky. The story centers on Princess Iolanta who has been blind since birth. No one has told her that she is blind or that she is a princess. Her life is about to drastically change when her betrothed decides to marry another woman, an alternate suitor appears and a doctor appears with a cure for blindness.
“The production will have a fairy-tale setting, emphasizing the struggle between control and faith, trying to fight your destiny versus giving over to it,” says Paul.
It production will feature students studying Voice at Westminster. Westminster Opera Theatre has been praised for its innovative productions of a wide range of operas. Graduates of the program have gone on to perform in opera houses around the world. Recent productions have included Savitri by Gustav Holst; Oreste by George Frideric Handel; L’enfant Prodigue by Claude Debussy; L’enfant et les Sortilèges by Maurice Ravel; Così fan tutte, La Clemenza di Tito, Il Re Pastore and Die Zauberflöte by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; Dialogues des Carmélites by Francis Poulenc; Albert Herring and A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Benjamin Britten; and Les contes d’Hoffman by Jacques Offenbach.
Westminster Choir College faculty member William Hobbs works at many of the world’s major opera houses as conductor and coach. These include the Opéra National de Paris, the Salzburg Festival, San Francisco Opera, Chicago Lyric Opera, Seattle Opera, Washington Opera and the Opéra de Monte-Carlo. His repertoire ranges from Handel to the European avant-garde, as well as works by Slavic composers and a number of premieres by American composers He has assisted conductors and has worked closely with singers such as Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Olga Borodina, Frederica von Stade, Roberto Alagna, Paul Groves, Placido Domingo, Rod Gilfry, Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Sam Ramey.
David Paul has directed operas and plays at leading professional companies and educational institutions throughout the United States and abroad. Highlights of recent seasons include Julius Caesar at the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington; Le Nozze di Figaro at Washington National Opera; a new production of The Rake’s Progress for Music Academy of the West and Il trovatore for North Carolina Opera. In addition to his directing work, Mr. Paul is active as a teacher of acting for singers. He has coached, taught and directed at The Juilliard School and The Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, and he serves on the full-time faculty of both institutions. He has also taught and directed productions for the Barnard/Columbia Department of Theater, the International Vocal Arts Institute in Israel and the Intermezzo Festival in Belgium, among others.
Tickets for the performances are $25 for adults and $20 for students and seniors. They can be purchased at the door, through the box office at 609-921-2663 or online at www.rider.edu/arts.