© Christina Baumann-Canaval

Iolanta / The Nutcracker

Pjotr Iljitsch Tschaikowsky

Opera libretto by Modest Tchaikovsky

Lyric opera & fairy-tale ballet Ballet based on the story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” by E. T. A. Hoffmann

Premiere: 15 April 2023 / Salzburg State Theatre


Tchaikovsky’s opera “Iolanta” and his ballet “The Nutcracker” are enchanting, ambiguous and mysterious. Created as a double bill for the world premiere in 1892, the two compositions are now rarely performed together. The Salzburg State Theatre presents both works as a reunited entity in an extraordinary concept.

Iolanta’s blindness is a closely guarded secret; even Iolanta herself knows nothing about it. Her father, King René, has given orders that nobody is to make her aware of her condition. One day, Count Vaudémont gains access to her and breaks the King’s command, endangering his own life. But before Iolanta’s inner eyes, a fantastic world unfolds: There, young Marie has to surpass her fears to assist her beloved, the Nutcracker.

“Iolanta” and “The Nutcracker” are two sides of the same coin in Tchaikovsky’s oeuvre: Lyrically tender in the opera, dazzlingly playful in the ballet, the music permeates the score in richly faceted colours. In the version of Thomas Mika and Reginaldo Oliveira, opera and ballet are closely intertwined and together make up a grand narrative.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s (1840–1893) grand ballets are among the highlights of their genre. While “The Nutcracker” soon became a lasting success, “Iolanta”, a project that was very dear to the composer’s heart, was initially received with little enthusiasm, but is today considered one of his most groundbreaking compositions.

Thomas Mika works as a director and a stage and costume designer in ballet and opera. He has collaborated with companies including the Vienna State Ballet and the Stuttgart Ballet. Reginaldo Oliveira, head of the ballet division, has choreographed many grand narrative ballets at the Salzburg State Theatre, including “Anna Karenina” and “Lili, the Danish Girl”.