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The Tsars Bride

opera in four acts
music: Nikolai Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov


Music: N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov
Libretto: N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov, I. F. Tyumenev after the drama of the same name by Lev Mey

Music Director, Conductor: Dmitri Jurowski
Author of Artistic Concept, Stage Director: Vyacheslav Starodubtsev
Set Designer: Vyacheslav Okunev
Costume Designer: Petr Okunev
Lighting Designer: Irina Vtornikova
Stage Movement: Sergei Zakharin
Video Content Maker: Vadim Dulenko
Chief Chorus Master: Vyacheslav Podyelsky
Chorus Master: Sergei Tenitilov
Conductor: Eldar Nagiev
Assistants to Stage Director: Igor Bondarenko, Nikolai Natsybulin

3 hours 30 minutes

two intermissions

Rimsky-Korsakovs The Tsars Bride (1899) is the composers ninth creation; it is rightfully considered one of the most dramatic Russian operas.

The composer had an idea of making an opera after Lev Meys drama of the same name back in his early days, but he only got down to it thirty years later. The plot is based on true historic events a wedding of Ivan the Terrible and Marfa Vasilievna Sobakina, who died unexpectedly two weeks after. Lev Meys work is not trying to be an authentic documentary source, however it shapes vivid, lifelike characters surrounded by intense dramatic circumstances. A deep and tragic story of a fair bride, empyrean love, acute jealousy and irreconcilable rivalry is intensified by Rimsky-Korsakovs genius music and his keen sense of Russian soul. The score comprises plenty of various tunes, which renders the musical landscape intelligible for everyone, while keeping the overall style authentic and highly original.

The first night became a huge success on 22 October 1899 at Mamontov's Private Russian Opera in Moscow. Since then, The Tsars Bride has been a popular entry in the Russian opera repertoire, running at best venues of the world. The composer highly valued The Tsars Bride and distinguished it upsides with The Snow Maiden from the rest of his creations.

Vasily Stepanovich Sobakin, Novgorodian merchant
Marfa, his daughter
Grigory Grigorievich Gryaznoy, an oprichnik
Grigory Lukianovich Malyuta Skuratov, an oprichnik
Ivan Sergeyevich Lykov, a boyar
Lyubasha, Gryaznoys lover
Yelisey Bomeliy, the Tsar's physician
Domna Ivanovna Saburova, the merchants wife
Dunyasha, her daughter, Marfas friend
Petrovna, the Sobakins housekeeper
The Tsars stoker
A maiden
A young lad
Tsar Ivan Vasilyevich

Act 1

The feast

A chamber at Gryaznoys house. Grigory is puzzled: he is in love with Marfa, Sobakins daughter, but she is already proposed as wife to a young boyar Ivan Lykov. Gryaznoy decides to throw a party and invites the Tsars physician to discuss critically important matters. The guests arrive: the oprichniks led by Gryaznoys friend Malyuta Skuratov, Ivan Lykov and Yelisey Bomeliy. Lykov speaks of distant land he has recently travelled. People are praising the Tsar, having fun and enjoying themselves. Malyuta thinks of Lyubasha, Gryaznoys lover. Grigory calls for Lyubasha. By Malyutas request she sings a song about a tragic fate of a girl, who is forced to marry a man she doesnt love. The guests leave and Grigory asks Bomeliy to stay. Lyubasha eavesdrops on them. Grigory asks the physician for a love potion to mesmerize a girl. Bomeliy promises to help.

After Bomeliy leaves Lyubasha chides Grigory for not loving her anymore. Gryaznoy doesnt seem to care. The morning service is announced, Grigory leaves. Lyubasha swears to find the romance wrecker and disenchant her.

Act 2

Love potion

A street in Alexandrovskaya village. Marfa tells her friend about her new groom Ivan Lykov. The oprichniks arrive. Marfa doesnt recognize Ivan the Terrible in their leader, however his stare frightens her. She calms down when she sees her father and her fiancé. Sobakin invites Lykov in, the girls follow them. Lyubasha appears near the Sobakins residence. She wants to see her rival and so she looks inside the window. Lyubasha is stunned by Marfas pure beauty. Desperate, she addresses to Bomeliy and asks for a potion that could perish beauty. Bomeliy agrees to help the girl in exchange for her love.

Outraged with such audacious offer, Lyubasha wants to leaves, but the physician threatens to tell Gryaznoy about her request. Overhearing Marfas laugh at the Sobakins residence Lyubasha realizes she will accept the physicians terms.

Act 3

The best man

Vasily Sobakin is having guests, Ivan Lykov and Grigory Gryaznoy. The latter has successfully solicited his way to the bridesman. They are waiting for the girls, who are about to be back from the bride-show, accompanied by Dunyasha Saburovas mother. Domna Saburova enters the room and speaks of the bride-show. The tsar has barely looked at Marfa, but acted quite affectionate with Dunyasha. Lykov is relieved. Grigory fills two cups to celebrate the bride and the groom adding the love potion to Marfas cup. As soon as Marfa enters the chamber, Grigory congratulates the benempt and provides the cups. According to the ancient tradition, Marfa empties her cup. Saburova starts a song of praise.

Accompanied by boyars, Malyuta appears with glory to announce the tsars will Marfa is chosen to wed Ivan the Terrible.

Act 4

The bride

At the tsars tower. Sobakin is devastated by his daughters unexpected illness. Gryaznoy arrives bearing the tsars words. He tells Marfa that Lykov confessed his intention to waste Marfa with a potion, so the tsar ordered his execution, which was carried out by Gryaznoy. Overwhelmed by the news, Marfa passes out. Upon regaining her consciousness, Marfa confuses Gryaznoy for Lykov, speaks to him with love recollecting the time they spent together. Staggered, Gryaznoy confesses he defamed Lykov and tricked Marfa by giving her the potion. He is desperate to be judged, but prior to that he wants to settle accounts with Bomeliy, who has betrayed him. First deal with me says Lyubasha. She tells that she switched the love potion with a poison, which was used on Marfa. Grigory stabs Lyubasha with a knife. Marfa is looking through all of this. She is reliving her best time with Ivan Lykov.