Valery Gergiev opens his opulent “Stars of the White Nights” festival with a rare revival of The Maid of Orleans, based on a Friedrich Schiller play about Joan of Arc. With this score, written in Russian, Tchaikovsky came as close as he ever would to French grand opera, which is not the genre for which posterity has chosen to remember him. Apart from a magnificent aria that international mezzo-sopranos often sing in French as “Adieu, forêts!,” this heavily romanticized history remains, to most opera lovers, a closed book. In typical Mariinsky fashion, multiple casts are in play. As we go to press, Ekaterina Semenchuk, Ekaterina Gubanova, and Yulia Matochkina are rehearsing the title role—each a Mariinsky alumna now in demand in all the top houses. Four performances are scheduled. No doubt each will get her turn, with one left over to fight for. —M.G.
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