Term 4 Meetings - Russian Opera
Here’s our (current) meetings plan
20 & 27 Oct. Modest Mussorgsky (1839–1881) Boris Godunov.
3 & 10 Nov. Pyotr Tchaikovsky (1840–1893) Eugene Onegin
17 & 24th Nov. Tchaikovsky, The Queen of Spades.
1st Dec. Aleksandr Borodin (1833–1887) Prince Igor.
8th Dec. Dmitri Shostakovich (1906–1975) for our full opera
term finale: Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District.
First term next year (20th century opera) we’ll include
Stravinsky Oedipus Rex; Prokofiev The Love for Three Oranges
and The Fiery Angel.
Is there a particularly RUSSIAN style of opera?
There are literally dozens of Russian operas since the first ones in 18th Century.
See a list of the most popular here. But are they particularly Russian?
“There are examples of Russian operas written in French, English, Italian, Latin, Ancient
Greek, Japanese, or the multitude of languages of the nationalities that were part of the
Empire and the Soviet Union…. Searching for its typical and characteristic features, Russian
opera (and Russian music as a whole), has often been under strong foreign influence. Italian,
French, and German operas have served as examples, even when composers sought to
introduce special, national elements into their work. This dualism, to a greater or lesser
degree, has persisted throughout the whole history of Russian opera.” (says Wikipedia)
So what’s Russian about Russian opera? We plan to answer this question through
the works of six composers, from among Russia’s nineteenth and twentieth century
greats and across Russian history. Clive Paget in Limelight gives a tantalising
answer here, interviewing the Sydney
chief conductor David
It is Mikhail Glinka
(1804-1857) who is
credited with first
expressing a peculiarly
Russian musical style,
His Ruslan and Ludmila
is based on the tale by
Opera and literature – the push of Pushkin
The great nineteenth century operas
in Russia derived from great Russian
writing, and the greatest writer was
Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin (1799
– 1837 – yes he died young, in a duel).
We’ll visit three operas from
Pushkin’s writing, Mussorgsky's Boris
Godunov (two versions, 1868–9 and
1871–2), then Tchaikovsky's Eugene
Onegin (1879) and The Queen of Spades.
His Mozart and Salieri was the basis of
Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus.
Russia in their time
1812 - French invasion
1861 - Emancipation of the serfs
1867 - Russia sells Alaska to USA
1905 - St Petersburg uprising
1916 - Murder of Rasputin
1917 - Russian Revolution, govern-
ment falls, civil war, Lenin rules
1918 - Royal Family executed
1921 - famine
1922-1953 - Stalin rules
1941-43 - German invasion
1992 - Collapse of the Soviet Union,
which none of our composers lived