"It will doubtless come as quite a surprise when, to start off with, the orchestra plays the suite with curtain down, after which the performance itself - Iolanta - gets underway! The task which faced us was to think up one story, one composition. And it even seems to me now that without Nutcracker, it would have been less interesting. Even before the events in the opera start to unfold, the music of the Nutcracker Suite shows us Iolanta’s inner world. This incredibly poetical, fairy-tale-like suite is our heroine’s inner music.
The story is indeed very poetical. The first thing one has to avoid at all costs in Iolanta is a homespun, naturalistic interpretation. As soon as the action begins to acquire a homespun character, this subtle, fragile, naïve opera simply disintegrates. It was therefore vital that our production be poetical. Our aim was to locate a real, human story through these poetic images: what is light, what is darkness, what is blindness and the recovery of sight, what are these “two worlds of the flesh and of the spirit”? We had above all to find a figurative, spatial expression of the poetic language of the opera. To create a world of darkness and a world of light.
Iolanta is a very pure, naïve, radiant opera, but by no means as simple as it seems. In terms of character, I would compare it to Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. It is an imaginary tale with philosophical meaning, and a serious subtext. And its philosophical content today is very distinct and clear".