The Golden Cockerel by Ivan Yakovlevich Bilibin, who designed the premier production of Rimsky Korsakov's eponymous opera.
  • The Golden Cockerel by Ivan Yakovlevich Bilibin, who designed the premier production of Rimsky Korsakov's eponymous opera.
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I went to a small gathering of opera lovers on Sunday, September 10. The group was brought together to explore Mikhail Glinka’s opera Ruslan and Lyudmila. I had never even heard of this opera. As it turns out, Anna Netrebko made her debut in the role of Lyudmila at the age of 23. Her performance had been captured in the DVD we watched.

First off, we didn’t watch the whole thing but our host guided us through. Next I began to realize just how much Russian opera is out there. Opera that I don’t really know at all.

Video:

Anna Netrebko sings Lyudmila

My knowledge of Russian opera is Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, Mussorgsky’s Boris Gudanov, and the Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor by Borodin. I decided to make a list of Russian operas which I don’t know. That list was way too long so here is a partial list.

Operas by Tchaikovsky which I don’t know include Vakula the Smith, The Maid of Orleans,The Enchantress,The Queen of Spades, and Iolanta.

Some of the operas by Rimsky Korsakov which I don’t know: The Maid of Pskov, The Noblewoman Vera Sheloga, The Tsar's Bride, Servilia, and The Golden Cockerel.

Tchaikovsky and Rimsky Korsakov are obviously well known composers but what do we know of their operas? I haven’t listed operas by Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Borodin, Cui, Rubenstein, Mussorgsky, and the list could go on and on. Cesar Cui wrote 14 operas and Anton Rubinstein wrote 19.

The amount of music out there is staggering. There is no way I’m going to listen to that much Russian opera. However, I am going to give three of them a good effort. Those three are Tchaikovsky’s Queen of Spades, Rimsky Korsakov’s The Golden Cockerel, and Prokofiev’s Love of Three Oranges.

I’m leaving out some killers such as Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District and Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress. I’ll save those for 2019.

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