Work: May Night: Overture
About This Work
May Night was Rimsky-Korsakov's second opera and is generally regarded as one of his most compelling. The score makes use of Ukrainian folk melody and it is that ethnic style, mixed with the composer's naturally colorful and typically Russian
character, that permeates much of the overture. It is a substantial work at around ten minutes, containing music from some of the opera's most memorable moments, including that of the third-act water nymphs, the first-act duet of Levko and Hanna (in part), and Levko's third-act song about her. The overture begins with a slow, atmospheric introduction that features a lovely melody on horn in its latter half. Following this vaguely Wagnerian opening, the music turns lively with a Russian- or Ukrainian-tinged character. Thereafter, several additional themes are introduced, alternating slow with fast sections. The music is more colorful in the latter half, at times divulging a somewhat exotic manner though always remaining light in mood and exhibiting Rimsky-Korsakov's usual lush orchestration. This is a fine piece that can stand apart from the opera or serve as a splendid introduction to it.
-- Robert Cummings
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