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The Enchantress

Following Nicolas Krusek's comment regarding his find of the 1954 Samossoud recording of The Enchantress, I also found this, on Ebay, a great source of rare music. The CDs were posted to me in the UK from Russia. I also secured from ebay the four LP 1977 recording of the complete opera, with the Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Provotorov. The LP set contains full text with English translations. There is a lot of stunning music in this opera, which impresses even if you don't know anything about the story. The 1954 recording is astonishing for the date, except to say towards the end the quality does seem to fall off for some reason. Ive no access to an old record player at the moment so can't report on the LP recording yet, but will review when this changes.

Norman Armstrong

The Enchantress does indeed have some striking attributes but from what I can recall it's all in the first act which is very appealing and attractive indeed, being as it is imbyed with the Russian folk element which Tchaikovsky turned to his advantage on many occasions. But the following acts simply do not measure up. Had Tchaikovsky been able to sustain his inspiration on to the end we might indeed have had a masterpiece and it could well have entered the ranks of the repertorie. Nor was the rest of the libretto able to stir up the composer's muse. Another Onegin was simply not forthcoming.

Albert Gasparo

In addition to the 1954 Samosud recording of The Enchantress, I also recently acquired (through Amazon) the 1946 recording of The Maid of Orleans conducted by Boris Khaikin (with Sofya Preobrazhenskaya as Joan), recently released on Myto Historical Line. Both operas contain much splendid music, including effective crowd scenes (especially Act 1 of The Enchantress) and some gorgeous love duets. I agree that Tchaikovsky's level of inspiration is not consistently maintained in the final scene of both operas, but this is largely due to dramatic weaknesses in the libretti.

The performances under Khaikin and Samosud are very good and thoroughly idiomatic, although the recordings occasionally show their age (what do you expect for 1946 or 1954?) On a positive note, I find the singers very easy to understand, even with my limited knowledge of Russian.

Unfortunately there is no libretto included for The Enchantress, although The Maid of Orleans has a complete English libretto. I also find it strange that neither booklet includes timings for individual CD tracks. However, these are minor complaints, and I wholeheartedly applaud Myto Historical Line and Preiser Records for the great service they have done us by releasing these two rare operas on CD.

Nicolas Krusek
Vancouver, Canada

Despite the lack of newer commercial recordings of The Enchantress and The Maid of Orleans on CDs, there are still non-commercial live recordings of both works from independent organizations such as “House of Opera”. Some of these recordings have the quality of professional recordings and cost around $7 to $10. Among the operas recorded, I have found two recordings of The Enchantress and one of The Maid of Orleans. The details are listed below:

  • The Enchantress: Amsterdam 1/18/1992 conducted by Gergiev with Alexeiv, Schemtchuk, Cyrianova, and Grigorian.

  • The Enchantress: London 2/28/1998 conducted by Gergiev with Gorchakova, Kiadkova, Putilin, Grigorian, Matorin, and Riadchikova.

  • The Maid of Orleans: Turin 2002 conducted by Ranzani with Freni, Oslen, Orciani, Guarnera, and Caruso.

The website is

For a list of available recordings of all Tchaikovsky operas, both commercial and non-commercial, you can visit the site ( by Brian Capon, which has a compilation not only for Tchaikovsky, but for other composers as well.

Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for recording companies to transfer existing recordings of these two operas from LPs to CDs. So far, the Russian label Aquarius has already made available the 1979 of The Voevoda conducted by Kozhukhar and the 1980 recording of The Oprichnik conducted by Protatorov on CDs.

Shenda Gu
Berkeley, California

Of all the great composers Tchaikovsky may be the most sensitive to performance. It can often seem that his inspiration failed him, yet when you hear an inspired performance it can be an incredible revelation. Surely this is why Mazeppa languished in near obscurity for more than an hundred years. I was privileged to hear Gergiev and the Kirov with a live concert performance of Mazeppa in 1999 in Glasgow, which was an artistic and critical triumph. I also heard the Welsh National Opera performance in Llandudno in July 2006, a very different take, but equally successful. In contrast to the above views of The Enchantress and The Maid, the quality of the music certainly in Mazeppa reaches its highest level at the end, a most understated and convincing conclusion. The expressionistic extremes push it at times towards melodrama, but then with the understanding of the artists, it takes on a sublime and elevated aspect, such as in the execution scene at the end of Act II.

I wonder if the same things might be true of The Enchantress. I remember hearing the 1998 Gergiev live concert performance (BBC Radio 3) mentioned by Shenda Gu as a non-commercial recording and I was impressed consistently throughout the opera. When I heard the Samosud recording I was disappointed by the last act. This makes me think performance may be the problem rather than the composer’s inspiration.

For years I took for granted Tchaikovsky scholar David Brown’s opinion when he said Iolanta was ‘insipid’ and didn’t bother getting to know it. Then I heard a concert performance directed by Alexander Lazarev with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and was astonished to discover a great opera. So two words of warning might be necessary with T’s lesser regarded works: Don’t necessarily believe the scholars or critics and seek out further performances; the rewards of discovering more great Tchaikovsky when you thought you knew it all are immense.

Norman Armstrong

I was astonished to learn that David Brown finds "IOLANTA" "insipid". Why then this important work of the mighty genius is his third most widely performed opera after "Eugene" and "Queen"?

Surely the "IOLANTA" score is not a match to "masterpieces" produced by pop, rock and other noise-making industries.

The libretto, skilfully crafted by Modest Tchaikovsky, is based on a play by Henrick Hertz about a blind princess and her miraculous recovery. I invite real Tchaikovsky scholars and lovers of his music to judge for themselves.

Two "IOLANTA" recordings are available on the Internet.

One is a DVD recording of a 1982 live performance by the Bolshoi in Moscow. The singing is outstanding. This is one of the Bolshoi's successes. The DVD is made by FGL in France and has no subtitles or booklet with the libretto.

The technical quality of video and audio signals is very high.

The second recording is an audio CD. Produced in 1995 by Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, conducted by V. Gergiev. This recording is also a delight for a real Tchaikovsky enthusiast. Complemented by a booklet, containing a history of composition and the full

libretto with transliteration and translation in English.

Both recordings are advertised by and by

Alexander Geidelberg

Note also that Твое молчанье непонятно ("Tboyo molchanye neponyatno," in case the Cyrillic doesn't come through correctly), from Iolanta, is one of the highlights of the Anna Netrebko / Rolando Villazón "Duets" album.

Ken Pierce

Once I had a conversation with a woodwind player, who told me that when his orchestra played "The Enchantress", all his fellow musicians noticed that the musical structure of the overture is in a style of FOXTROT.

I have not been able as yet to get hold of either the score or recordings of "The Enchantress".

I would appreciate your comments .

Alexander Geidelberg

The postings in this forum would be so much more useful if they were date-stamped. I'll help out a bit by saying that this message was posted shortly before 12 December became 13 December 2008.

CHARODEIKA (The Enchantress) was given a single staged performance during the summer of 2005 in Baden-Baden. The Kirov forces--complete with a fully Russian cast of singers--made this an "enchanted evening". The performance unfortunately was not broadcast. Because everyone in the cast was Russian, I find it to have been superior to the London effort, which actually sounded from time to time to show Gergiev a bit tentative compared with the way he tore into the score seven years later. I think 1998 was probably about the time he himself was performing this for the first time. The Kirov did not have it in their production repertoire until a few years later. I think they did take it on the road to Lisbon before it came to Baden-Baden. Only an in-house recording exists to record this memorable evening.

I agree that the Samosud recording is quite dull. I remember listening to it, and to another recording, in preparation for seeing the Baden-Baden performance. The one think I recall from these outings was how long the opera was. A single intermission in Baden-Baden was going to make for some long sits, I thought.

Au contraire. The opera in Gergiev's hands was a revelation, compared with those two old recordings. It may be right up there as my favorite Tchaikovsky opera (although there seemed to be a lot of good music in OPRICHNIK when I heard it in Cagliari about four years ago).

It's still 12 December, but I think I'm through for this evening. Interesting to surf around and find this P.I. Tchaikovsky forum. You never know what's out there in cyberspace!

Ed Gordon

It is December 31, so I wish you all a very happy new year!

I finally got me both "The Enchantress" (the 1998 recording) and "The Maid of Orleans" (2002). The quality of both isn't comparable to professionally recorded music at all, but all things considered they are great. "The Enchantress" has amazing passages in it, I don't understand why there aren't any newer recordings on CD.

The "Maid of Orleans" is very good too, I had listened to it already because I have the DVD with Nina Rautio as Joan of Arc. The fact that I am a copyright respect freak has prevented me from extracting the audio and putting it into my iPod.

"Iolanta" I bought several years ago in Mexico City, my hometown. It is the Mstislav Rostropovich directing and Galina Vishnievskaia as Joan. This is an "Erato" recording and I find it quite good.

As per the recommendation of this forum, I also got the 1970 recording of "Voevoda" via e-Bay, from Russia. I found this to be a very good recording, considering it is now almost 40 years old.

Ladies and gentlemen, I already wrote to Deutsche Grammophon asking them to do a complete set of Tchaikovsky's operas with Anna Netrebko. She was born to be "Tatiana" in "Eugene Onegin" and "Lisa" in "Pique Dame". It goes without saying that I didn't get an answer from DG, but maybe if some of you would agree we would show there's some interest in this. It's not that I dislike other non-Russian operas, but in my humble opinion Ms. Netrebko would to an immense service to the world by recording all of Tchaikovksy's operas. I'm sure that Pyotr Illych would have liked that.

James Hale

The 1978 Melodiya recording of The Enchantress (Provatorov), which to my knowledge has only been released on LP (1980), has apparently been released on CD in Britain (but not the US):


Gordon Thomas

A new DVD of Enchantress by VAI (Video Artists International) was released in the Summer of 2010. 

This is a 1984 live performance by the Nizhegorodsky State Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet; Pavel Reznikov, conductor. Sung in Russian; subtitles in English, French, and Russian, Color, 4:3, 156 min., All regions.

You can also order it from 

This is the first time I have ever seen a performance of this opera, though I heard a few highlights of the music in the past. I find the quality of the video and sound not bad but certainly not great. The scale of the production and theater is quite small and old fashioned. Though I knew the quality of this opera is not on par with Tchaikovsky's other master pieces, I still enjoyed the opera from beginning to the end. Perhaps because I didn't have great expectations. I actually enjoyed all the many arias, duets and choruses, some of which are quite beautiful and somehow reminds me of music by Verdi. Now I have seen the opera, I hope some day there will be a better production I think this opera deserves.

John C. Chou

The dvd of The Enchantress is very poor and doesn’t begin to do justice to the work. The production is amateurish in the extreme while the singing and playing is merely passable with the exception of the singer of the title role. However there is a disastrous cut in the last act which is very damaging to the drama and reduces the title role to a cipher. I don’t understand why the Maryinsky production has never been filmed or even given an audio recording.

There was a brilliant production of this opera at Grange Park in England (a kind of mini Glyndebourne) a few years ago with Janis Kelly as The Enchantress. It got terrific critical notices. I saw it and was very impressed. I also attended the Gergiev performance in the Royal Festival Hall and a year or so earlier it was staged (the British premiere) more than adequately at the Brighton Festival. So this wonderful opera seems to have done better in the UK recently than anywhere else.

Joseph Brand

Flanders Opera will be performing The Enchantress in Ghent and Antwerp this October and November (2011) with an excellent cast. I’ve already booked the 1st night, October 30th, in Ghent.

Joseph Brand

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