This is not a ballet post, but opera. The Tsar’s Bride (Russian: Царская невеста, Tsarskaya nevesta) is an opera in four acts by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. This piece is directed by Teet Kask, renown ballet choreographer.
Conductor Erki Pehk:
“The Tsar’s Bride” is undoubtedly one of the most eminent operas in the Russian music history. In a sense it is more beloved by the Russian audiences than Tchaikovsky’s famous “Eugene Onegin” and “The Queen of Spades”, which have undeservedly gained more popularity in the West. The plot of “The Tsar’s Bride” is very ordinary (very Russian), easily followed and yet riveting. Rimsky-Korsakov’s music is very beautiful, with an ethnic colouring and masterfully orchestrated. The songs of the protagonists are vocally very demanding and with exquisite and memorable melodies. Lyubasha’s arias are particular hits, for example “See, Grigory, what things have come to!”, Marfa’s mad scene aria “Ivan Sergeich, might we go to the yard?“ and the quartet, which is as famous in Russian music as Verdi’s quartet from „Rigoletto“. For each characters, the composer uses characteristic musical devices, which vary throughout the opera according to their actions.
“The Tsar’s Bride” has not been performed in Estonia for 50 years! The last performance was in 1959 in the “Estonia” opera theatre. The National Opera did present a concert performance of the opera a few years ago. Angelina Shvachka sang the part of Lyubasha then and she also participates in our performance.
Director Teet Kask:
“The goal is not to bring an authentic 16th century event to the stage, but to touch upon ageless topics, which Rimsky-Korsakov has masterfully woven into his music. The purpose is to create the work through the eyes of a 21st century viewer, setting the events in a fantasy world, which cannot be directly tied to any particular era. In creating the performance I am guided by Rimsky-Korsakov’s music.”
The tumultuous opera, created in 1899 tells the tale of 16th century Moscow boyar Grigory Gryaznoy’s struggle to find love through force and power. Grigory’s name is also an allusion to Russia’s merciless ruler – the tsar Ivan Groznoy (Ivan the Terrible). And Gryaznoy also means soiled or dirty in Russian. Choosing between Lyubasha, brought with him form a campaign, and Marfa, a woman of his own class but engaged already to another, Grigory brings doom upon them both. In the final scene, Grigory kneels before Marfa, begging for forgiveness, but the dying maiden’s last words are for her fiancée.