Opera by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Libretto by Ilya Tyumenev based on the drama of the same name by Lev Mey
World premiere on November 3, 1899 in Moscow Private Opera of S. I. Mamontov
Premiere at the Estonian National Opera on January 25, 2019
Sung in Russian with subtitles in Estonian and English
Rimsky–Korsakov, the author of one of the most famous orchestral work Sheherezade, has written fifteen operas, of which “The Tsar’s Bride” is the most notable. The opera shares some common features with the Italian romantic opera and Shakespearean drama. The music of the opera, its vocal side in particular, puts the opera above the conventional situational drama, accentuating its tragic nature which ensures the huge popularity of the opera. All Rimski-Korsakov’s operas belong to the repertoires of Russian opera theatres, but “The Tsar’s Bride” is one of the few operas that has gained a high position among Western European opera theatres as well.
Yuri Alexandrov: “The history of Russian despotism is deep-rooted, but despotism is also deep-rooted in any other state that has imperialistic ambitions. I have set the opera in the post-war spring of 1946. People have been through devastating war horrors, and they think they can breathe freely again and put all the pain behind them, but reality is suffocating and there is no way out. This reality created “a hero of our time”, who walks on dead bodies – a man who is both suffering and regretting, loving and hating, strong and helpless, a revolutionary and a conformist… He is a typical Russian archetype and Grigory Gryaznoy is just that – a victim sowing death… There have been many in the history of Russia: Pushkin’s and Tchaikovsky’s Herman, Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Rodion Raskolnikov… The spectators are welcome to prolong the list. And another remark – the timeline from the 17th century until very recently to which the audience is hopefully a witness, gave me a chance to add to the web of the production historic and poetic elements that opera-goers so expect, through costumes, set design and, most importantly, through Rimsky-Korsakov’s authentically Russian music.”