Rimsky-Korsakov's tenth opera, The Tsar's Bride moves away from the fairytale tableaux-style of opera in which he had triumphed. This is a grand narrative in the Verdian style. That said, the musical language is unmistakably Russian, with a motif (Slava) running like a thread throughout the score. This motto can also be heard in Boris Godunov, Beethoven's second 'Razumovsky' Quartet, and Tchaikovsky's Mazeppa. The score also displays Rimsky's mastery of contrapuntal techniques, and of course his extraordinary use of the orchestra combine to produce a ravishing sound.
The opera, although successful in the early years of the 20th century, and throughout the early SovietRead more period, fell into neglect by mid-century as did most of his stage work. Galina Vishnevskaya, the great Russian soprano did much to restore the fortunes of this masterpiece with her searing interpretations of poor deranged Marfa (the wife of Ivan the Terrible). After noticing a mad woman on the streets of Leningrad after the siege, she wrote 'I was deeply affected by her intensity and the despair of her introverted gaze. It was as if she were trying to recall something, straining to make out, in the depths of a bottomless chasm, something known to her alone.'
- Recording made in 1992
- A 100% Russian feast An all-Russian cast in this very Russian opera of Rimsky-Korsakov, one of the finest Russian opera composers (and still a bit neglected in this field).
- A must for opera fans and everybody with a taste for dramatic, highly romantic and athmospheric music with more then a touch of couleur locale.
- 'The aria is tenderly sung by Ekaterina Kudriavchenko, who handles with great sensitivity this portrayal of a figure familiar from many Russian novels and operas, the suffering heroine. Lyubasha is potently sung by Nina Terentieva, somewhat in the charged manner of another Marfa, that of Mussorgsky's Khovanshchina. She suggests banked fires of passion, sings her unaccompanied song caressingly, and rounds with both dignity and rage on the slimy Bomelius (Vladimir Kudriashov) even as she consents to his advances for the sake of his potions, snarling at him the word "nemets": translated by the libretto as "monster". Gryaznoy's opening aria is also a difficult one, for Rimsky gives him a melodic line that presents him as a character of some sympathy, if we do not know that he is regretting that he is now getting too old for the rapes he used to enjoy so much and is casting his eyes on the innocent Marfa instead of his mistress Lyubasha. Vladislav Verestnikov rightly handles this with a kind of blunt strength that does not give away too much. Later, he suggests an increasing and destructive tension, while also a certain magnificence. Gramophone April 1993 Read less
Not For EveryoneOctober 12, 2013By Henry S. (Springfield, VA)See All My Reviews"I have listened to a number of Russian operas over the past year or so, and with a few exceptions (e.g.- Tchaikovsky), I have found most to have characteristics which act to distinguish them stylistically and aesthetically from Western European operas. The first and probably most obvious comment is the general nature of Russian opera librettos, which often center around violence, terror, brutality, and a sense of outright thugginess and male chauvinism in dealing with relationships, all of which tend to be treated in a more delicate manner in the majority of Western operas. Secondly, the male casts tend to feature Russian bass voices, which to my ears significantly darken the works' atmospherics. Female roles are often either second tier or use excessive histrionics to express or portray the various female roles. Rimsky-Korsakov's stark, powerfully projected opera The Tsar's Bride is a work which incorporates the above qualities to a noticeable extent. The story line develops from Tsar Ivan the Terrible's search for a bride, and the clear implication is that Ivan gets (and takes) what he wants- even though he is not actually a character in the work. This naturally leads to predictably tragic consequences for the rest of the cast. With regard to the male roles, the conflicts among the characters are so hard-edged and 'in your face' that it almost seemd like they abandoned singing and resorted to screaming in order to make their points - certainly not the sophisticated vocal give and take one would ordinarily expect! Further, the extreme emotional demands on Ekaterina Kudriavchenko as Marfa and Nina Terentieva as Lyubasha resulted in what came across occasionally as uncontrolled hysteria as they vocally developed their tortuous, unforgiving relationship. Brilliant Classics has done a fine job technically with this recording- the sound quality is excellent, the dynamic range is wide, and the orchestral balance effectively supports the cast. The lack of a libretto is an immediate problem, as it (obviously) is sung in Russian. A short synopsis is included, which is adequate to give the listener at least a basic feel for the work. Those dedicated fans of Russian opera will probably take to this recording easily, but for the rest of us, The Tsar's Bride will likely prove something of a challenge. Rimsky-Korsakov did not compose this opera for Western audiences or tastes, but it does merit a listen, despite the general tone of my above comments."Report Abuse
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