Britain's Royal Opera to stage rare Tchaikovsky opera

Mon Sep 28, 2009 9:11am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Britain's Royal Opera House will stage a rarely performed Tchaikovsky opera over the Christmas period which director Francesca Zambello called the Russian composer's "best kept secret."

"The Tsarina's Slippers" (Cherevichki) will run from November 20 to December 8 at Covent Garden, combining the royal opera and ballet companies which share the premises.

"It will come as a surprise to many that there is a Tchaikovsky opera that is not commonly performed," Zambello told reporters on Monday surrounded by stage designs and costumes for the comedy.

"It's absurd that opera companies and ballet companies share the same buildings all over the world and yet we barely talk to each other," added the American, whose works have been staged at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, The Bolshoi in Moscow and on Broadway with Disney's "The Little Mermaid."

When the opera, based on Nikolai Gogol's short story "Christmas Eve," first appeared in 1876 under the title "Vakula the Smith" it was "a big old flop," according to Zambello.

Nearly 10 years later Tchaikovsky revisited the work and it enjoyed greater success.

Zambello said the opera was rarely performed by big opera houses, but its blend of humor, romance and fairy tale could turn it into a "Christmas classic" in Western repertory.

"I think there are a lot of works by composers that have been brought to light in the last 20 years," she told Reuters.   Continued...