Iolanta is one act lyric opera by Tchaikovsky, sung in Russian. Princess Iolanta is born blind; her father, King René, forbids anyone to talk of beauty, light or the natural world hoping that she will not recognize her affliction. For Tchaikovsky, a fairytale was not an escape from reality but an opportunity to speak of forbidden reality. His imaginary kingdom is a place of secret remorse and private hurt, redeemed by an African Sufi healer and torrential, relentless, unlikely love. The intimate final opera is a spiritually charged Mozartian journey through darkness into light. Perséphone is a three act melodrama by Stravinsky, sung in French. In André Gide's Homeric poem, Perséphone goes into the underworld of her own free will, moved by compassion for those who must live there, poignantly evoking Christian sacrifice, and poetically suggesting a dawning awareness of the Stalin Terror of mass collectivization. A ritual drawn from the earliest agricultural myths of Western civilization...