Whilst Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin(1879) and The Queen of Spades(1890) are operatic mainstays, his remaining nine operas are heard infrequently outside Russia. Iolanta, his final opera, received its premiere in 1892 alongside the now evergreen ballet The  Nutcracker, and now, some 130 years later, the work finally came to Australia with a new production by West Australian Opera.

Tchaikovsky was never completely happy with Iolanta, and its subsequent critical reception has been somewhat lacklustre. However, it also has its supporters – myself included – who by casting aside some of the libretto’s dryness, are able to revel in the voluptuousness of the score, in Tchaikovsky’s never ending musical ideas, and in the thought-provoking subject matter at the heart of the tale.

Elena Perroni as Iolanta in West Australian Opera's 2022 production. Photo © Clinton Bradbury.

Iolantais the story of a princess, blind since birth, but oblivious to her disability. Her father, King René, in the belief that he is protecting his daughter, has...