Russian composer, Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s tale of Iolanta is coming to the Gaborone Convention Centre tonight (Sunday). Iolanta, the King of Provence’s blind daughter, grows up unaware of her lack of sight. Her father having closely guarded the truth about her disability from her, by ordering his servants’ promise on pain of death not to tell her of her blindness.
The princess, Iolanta has been betrothed since infancy to Robert, Duke of Burgundy who, like Iolanta, is unaware of her disability. The Duke arrives at King Renes castle accompanied by his friend, Count Vaudemont. Upon discovering Iolanta, who is blind unlike the one betrothed to him, he takes off right away leaving his friend the Count with Iolanta.
Both the Count and Iolanta discover her blindness when he asks her to pick him a red rose in memory of their meeting; Iolanta plucks him a white one. He picks up a bunch of roses and asks her how many roses there are in the bunch to which she requests that he give her the bouquet so that she may count the flowers.
The story was written by Tchaikovsky’s brother, Modest, who adapted it from a Danish play, titled King Rene’s Daughter by Henrik Hertz. Modest Tchakovsky toned down the mystic overtones of Henrik Hertz’ play. In the opera Iolanta regains her sight by her own will to do so.
Performing Iolanta and other classic Russian operas, WeSSide Entertainment, co-sponsored by Norlsk nickel, Grand Palm, Orange Botswana, Duma FM and Sunday Standard, this year brings, Russia’s sixty-five member opera and orchestra from Ekaterinburg State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre, which is the one of the oldest, and highly rated in Russia.