A Tchaikovsky tsunami is rolling over Germany right now, and that's a good thing.

His opera “Pique Dame” will premiere in Kassel next Saturday, his lyrical one-act play “Iolanta” in Kiel, and one Advent weekend before that “The Maid of Orléans” was released in Düsseldorf and “The Sorceress” at the Frankfurt Opera – together with and especially dramas about life and death, which are so shocking because they rely on what soldiers first train away in order to reduce their inhibition to kill: empathy.

Calm and prudence have gained the upper hand in the directorships, after some places had already considered or completed the complete discontinuation of music by Peter Tchaikovsky after the Russian attack on Ukraine in the spring.

Jan Brachmann

Editor in the Feuilleton.

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"The Maid of Orléans" was even replaced in St. Gallen by Giuseppe Verdi's play of the same name.

After the gripping production by Elisabeth Stöppler at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf, one has to ask oneself: why?

Tchaikovsky wrote an anti-war opera here instead of heroizing sacrificial death.

Although he took Friedrich Schiller's tragedy as a model for his own libretto, he also worked with French dramas by Jules Barbier and Auguste Mermet, deviating from Schiller in one essential point: his Johanna did not die in battle;

she becomes vulnerable by falling in love with her enemy Lionel - and he in love with her.

"Ty trogajesch menja", sings Richard Šveda in Düsseldorf in disarming helplessness: "You touch me".

Love is greater than faith

He stands as Lionel in a duel with the fanatically glowing Johanna, who sings Maria Kataeva with strength but also enraptured splendor.

And then the miracle happens that both suddenly recognize the human being in the enemy and at the same time the human being in themselves.

They can no longer harm each other.

One of the amazing things about Tchaikovsky's play is that its Saint Joan actually renounces war


their religious vocation.

With Tchaikovsky, love is, quite biblically, greater than faith.

Annika Haller's unified stage in Düsseldorf – the interior of a church for all four acts – also makes it clear that religion is used here by different actors only for their own purposes.

As a director, Elisabeth Stöppler goes even further than Tchaikovsky in that she denies Johanna the original death at the stake - she is burned as a witch out of religious fanaticism and political calculation - and lets her, now a civilian, perish in the war.

Tchaikovsky's narrative tempo is frantic, who already in the first picture processes so much information in a trio with a - magnificently singing - choir, dispenses with cumbersome exposition of figures and also orchestrates in a singer-friendly manner with his woodwind movements, which are based on Mozart.

What can be heard there from the Düsseldorfer Symphoniker conducted by Péter Halász always amazes in its precise virtuosity and yet never overpowers the strong, nuanced vocals.

Sergej Khomov as the arrogant coward Charles VII is just as convincing as Beniamin Pop in the small role of Bertrand: a bass with choked tears in his voice.

The fact that Maria Kataeva is well on the way to becoming one of the leading mezzo-sopranos in Europe has been indicated since the Hamburg "Carmen".