The Power to Seduce: Tchaikovsky's 'Enchantress'

WOO-1247-Enchantress-300Over the centuries, there have been many great and popular composers who wrote fine operas, yet have never been known as "opera composers" -- and there are as many reasons for that as there are composers who fit the description.

One example is Joseph Haydn. To go with his more than 100 symphonies, Haydn also wrote plenty of operas. But while his symphonies set creative standards for generations to follow, his many operas are seldom trendsetting -- and they're often overlooked.

On the other side of the coin, there were composers who didn't write enough operas to be regarded as "opera composers." Beethoven is the most obvious example. His Fidelio is arguably among the finest operas ever composed. But it's also the only one he ever wrote, so he's far more famous for his other music.

There have also been composers wrote lots of first-rate operas, only to have them overshadowed by a handful of other works so popular that the operas get crowded out of the picture. For an example of that, look no further than Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

Tchaikovsky is famous for his orchestral music -- tone poems, ballets, concertos, and symphonies. And while only some of those works are staples in the concert hall, they're so beloved that just about everything else he composed, including his operas, seems neglected by comparison.

He did write a couple of operas that are popular enough to be counted as repertory pieces: Eugene Onegin and The Queen of Spades. Still, when Tchaikovsky is mentioned, we're far more likely to think of his Fantasy Overture Romeo and Juliet, or his "Pathetique" Symphony, than either of those operas -- much less any of his others.

So the production featured here gives us a rare and welcome opportunity -- to hear one of Tchaikovsky's "other" operas. It's a brilliantly scored, vocally striking, and often deeply moving drama, called Charodeika -- The Enchantress.

On World of Opera, host Lisa Simeone presents Tchaikovsky's The Enchantress from a legendary venue that's emblematic of Russian theater, the Bolshoi in Moscow. Soprano Anna Nechaeva stars as the title character, with tenor Eduard Martynyuk and baritone Vladislav Sulimsky as the father and son who both fall in love with her, in a production led by conductor Alexander Lazarev.