The tale of tsar Saltan

opera in four acts with prologue
music by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
staged by Vyacheslav Starodubtsev


Music by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Libretto by Vladimir Belsky based on Alexander Pushkin's fairy tale of the same name
Author of artistic concept and Production Director: Vyacheslav Starodubtsev
Music Director and Conductor: Evgeny Volynsky
Production Designer: Timur Gulyaev
Lighting Designer: Irina Vtornikova
Video Content Designer: Vadim Dulenko
Stage Movement: Sergey Zakharin
Chief Choirmaster: Vyacheslav Podyelsky
Choirmaster: Sergey Tenitilov
Assistants to Production Director: Igor Bondarenko, Nikolay Natsybulin
Stage Movement Assistant: Dmitry Romanov

2 hours

one intermission

Premiered at NOVAT on January 26, 2024

Its a guide to magic tricks and not only

For me, the world of folk legends, fairy tales, epics, the world of Pushkin's fairy tales will remain a plentiful source of inspiration until the end of my life.

N. Rimsky-Korsakov

The popular project Pushkiniana at NOVAT is ready to surprise young guests again they are to listen to Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's opera The Tale of Tsar Saltan, the first premiere of 2024.

According to the conception of the chief stage director of the theatre and the author of the cycle Pushkiniana Vyacheslav Starodubtsev, the story about Tsar Saltan, the bogatyr Guidon and the beautiful Swan Princess will appear in the best traditions of Russian art. The lavish scenery and costumes of the performance echo the exhibition of reproductions by Russian artists Ivan Bilibin, Mikhail Vrubel and the poems by Alexander Pushkin. The performance, as well as the Pushkin's fairy tale, which formed the basis of the opera, and Rimsky-Korsakov's score, is addressed not only for a children's audience, it is for parents and children, for family viewing. It will hit fancy of everyone without exception - like a real, kind fairy tale, in which unusually beautiful and colourful music sounds. This fairy tale has everything a feast of feasts, three miracles, the emerging of a magical city, fantastic transformations

The Tale of Tsar Saltan is one of the composer's brightest, sunniest operas through complex twists and turns it leads all the heroes to a happy ending, good conquers evil, light displaces darkness, and even villains are forgiven.

Most of Rimsky-Korsakov's operas are written on a fairy tale plot - the spring fairy tale The Snow Maiden, the epic opera Sadko, the autumn fairy tale Kashchey the Deathless, the carol The Night before Christmas, the tall story in persons The Golden Cockerel, the opera May Night. The composer saw the richest world of folk fiction in a fairy tale. The great storyteller was able to reflect good and evil with music, create whole musical epics and legends, sending his heroes on unprecedented adventures.

Rimsky-Korsakov conceived The Tale of Tsar Saltan for the 100th anniversary of Alexander Pushkin (1899). When creating the opera, minor changes were made to the plot: the kingdom of Saltan became Tmutarakan, the tsaritsa got the name of Militrisa, the wonderful city on the island of Buyan became Ledenets (Lollipop). Old Man and Jester also appeared among the characters.

The prominent Russian artist Mikhail Vrubel was the production designer of the premiere show of the opera The Tale of Tsar Saltan, which took place on November 3, 1900 on the stage of the Moscow private opera of S. Mamontov. Fascinated by the fairy tale, music and the image of the heroine, Vrubel painted The Swan Princess in 1900. Now The Swan Princess is a masterpiece in the collection of the State Tretyakov Gallery. Rimsky-Korsakov, a true master of musical art, called the score of Saltan: a guide to magic tricks - for the ingenuity of the orchestration. In addition to life-affirming morality, the opera is full of musical miracles: the most famous symphonic sketches are Three Miracles and Flight of the Bumblebee: an interlude expressing the flight of a bumblebee, it has only 113 bars and it sounds for one minute and fourteen seconds. Flight of the Bumblebee entered the Guinness Book of Records as the fastest performed piece on the violin. The main intricacy in performing a piece on this instrument is the difficulty of moving the bow too vigorously, and this requires a lot of skill from the violinist!

As soon as Flight of the Bumblebee was recognized as one of the most virtuosic works due to its extremely fast tempo, the musicians immediately began to compete among themselves who would perform it faster. Sergei Rachmaninoff was one of the first to present the piano version of Flight of the Bumblebee to the audience.

This virtuoso miniature by Rimsky-Korsakov enjoys enormous popularity and exists in numerous transcriptions and arrangements. Today it is difficult to name an instrument on which this work would not be performed. It is played even on the harmonica, eight grand pianos, and also wonderfully sung by the choir. Many virtuoso musicians, demonstrating their technical capabilities, are happy to perform Flight of the Bumblebee at concerts and usually they do it as an encore in order to bring the audience into complete delight!


*The description uses materials from open sources: https://vk.com/@39m11i-muzykalnye-shedevry-opera-n-a-rimskogo-korsakova-skazka-o-ca?ysclid=lpi0z7zoav56317737 https://vk.com/@39m11i-muzykalnye-shedevry-opera-n-a-rimskogo-korsakova-skazka-o-ca?ysclid=lpi0z7zoav56317737, etc.

Three young sisters are spinning the yarn near the window late in the evening. The elder sister and the middle one brag about their beauty and portliness, while the younger one is silent. For her meekness and modesty, her sisters consider her a poor fool and always push her around. They dream about what each of them would do if she suddenly became a Tsar's wife. The eldest one boasts of setting an unprecedented feast, the middle would like to weave canvases for the whole world, and the youngest promises to give birth to a heroic son for the father-Tsar. Tsar Saltan, having overheard their conversation, suddenly appears in the bright room and announces his decision: all sisters will live in the palace, the eldest will be a cook, the middle one is to be a weaver, and the youngest will be his wife, the tsaritsa (the queen). The elder sisters and Babarikha envied the younger sister, the Tsaritsa, and began to figure out how to upset her happiness and deceive Tsar Saltan.

Meanwhile, the Tsar went to war, and Tsaritsa Militrisa gave birth to a son. Life flows peacefully in the royal court. Only the Tsaritsa does not know rest: she is worried that there have been no Messenger for a long time, who was sent with the good news about the birth of the Tsars son, he must bring a letter of reply from Saltan. Finally, a cheeky and chatty Messenger appears. Like conspirators, the shifty sisters, having drunk him up, manage to replace the Saltan's letter. The clerks read the order in embarrassment: To cast away the Tsaritsa and her offspring in a barrel into the watery deep. The people hesitate, but retreat before the threats of the triumphant sisters and Babarikha. The barrel with Militrisa and the Tsarevich (the prince) is thrown into the sea.

Its the deserted shore of Buyan Island. Here, heeding the pleas of the Tsaritsa, the wave carried the barrel. Militrisa complains about fate, but the noticeably grown-up Tsarevich frolics merrily, rejoicing at the bright world. Having made a bow, he goes in search of game, but suddenly notices a huge kite chasing a swan, and kills it with a well-aimed arrow. To the amazement of the Tsarisa and Tsarevich, the Swan-bird came out of the sea and spoke in human language. She promised to repay the kindness and disappeared.

Night came. Mother and son fell asleep. And with the first rays of dawn, a city has appeared out of the mist, as if by magic. A solemn procession appears from its gates to the festive chime of bells and cannon fire. The inhabitants of the fabulous city of Ledenets cheerfully greet Guidon and ask him to become their ruler. Guidon became a prince, but he is tormented by longing for his father. He looks sadly after the ship, which is on its way to the kingdom of Saltan. At Guidon's call, the Swan-bird appears from the sea. Having learned the reason for his sadness, she turns the prince into a bumblebee so that he can catch up with the ship and see his father.

The ship sailed to the kingdom of Saltan. The Tsar invites the sailors to his palace, dines them, and asks them about the wonders they have seen while traveling around the world. The sailors tell about the magical appearance of the city of Ledenets on a deserted island, about a squirrel gnawing gold nuts with emerald kernels, about thirty-three sea knights led by Chernomor and about the glorious mighty Prince Guidon, the ruler of this city. Saltan is surprised, he wants to visit a wonderful city. The worried Weaver and Cook dissuade him. Babarikha tells about a miracle that does not exist in the city of Ledenets about an overseas princess of indescribable beauty. Angered by the snares of the conspirators, the bumblebee stings them one by one and, causing a general commotion, flies away.

Sad Guidon wanders by the sea again. Babarikha's story does not go out of his memory. In anguish, Guidon calls the Swan-bird and, telling her about his ardent love for an unknown beauty, asks for help. Guidon's excitement touches the Swan-bird and she turns into the beautiful princess he so ardently dreamed of. Tsaritsa Militrisa blesses their union.

In joyful impatience, Guidon and Militrisa are waiting for the arrival of Saltan. Finally, his fleet appears in the distance. To the sound of bells and the greetings of the people, the Tsar and his retinue enter the palace. The show of the wonders of the city of Ledenets begins. A magical squirrel appears before the astonished eyes of the Tsar and the guests, thirty-three sea bogatyrs pass by, a beautiful Swan Princess appears, and finally, Saltan sees his beloved wife, imprisoned once in a barrel with her son, Tsaritsa Militrisa. The Tsar tearfully embraces her and his newfound son.