The action takes place in the mountains of southern France in the fifteenth century
Iolanta is blind. She lives a secluded life and is treated like a doll. A long time ago her father, King René, hid her from the world and placed her in the care of simple people, Martha and Bertrand. His greatest concern is for his daughter never to find out she is blind. He also doesn’t want the news of Iolanta’s blindness to reach Robert, her future husband. Iolanta is convinced that eyes are only for crying. But she is becoming anxious and has some vague presentiments.
Alméric arrives at Iolanta’s dwelling, announcing a visit from the King and a famous Moorish physician. The doctor’s diagnosis is clear: Iolanta must be told of her disability before treatment can begin. René says no.
Robert and Vaudémont appear at Iolanta’s house. They are overawed—the place seems to hide a secret, danger, they feel threatened. They meet Iolanta, not knowing who she is. Robert doesn’t realize she is his betrothed, whom he doesn’t want to marry because he loves someone else. Vaudémont is enchanted with the girl while Robert is worried by this mysterious place. Enthralled with Iolanta’s beauty, Vaudémont asks her to give him a red rose as a keepsake. Iolanta hands him a white one, twice. Vaudémont realizes that she can’t see. Iolanta has no idea what it means to see, she isn’t aware what she is missing. King René catches Vaudémont talking to Iolanta and is furious with him for revealing the secret to her. With no will of her own, Iolanta doesn’t even know whether she wants to be able to see—she will do anything her father tells her. This only confirms the doctor’s words that without an inner desire, no change is possible. To awaken her desire to regain her sight, the King threatens that if the treatment fails Vaudémont will be killed. Iolanta is healed and her father consents to her marriage to Vaudémont. But regaining her sight doesn’t bring Iolanta the expected deliverance. Blinded by the world, she can’t believe that the people she loves look the way they do. Her love for Vaudémont and the wedding ceremony subdue her fears.
Conductor: Andriy Yurkevych, Honored Artist of Ukraine
Choir master: Oleg Constantinov, Master of Art
Scenography: Iurie Matei, People's Artist