The operas of Nikolai Andreevich Rimskii-Korsakov (1844-1908), along with those of his predecessor Glinka (1804-1857) and his contemporary Chaikovskii (1840-1893), form the foundation of native classic opera repertory in Russia. That all three composers turned to Pushkin as an inspiration for one or more of their stage works was inevitable, Rimskii-Korsakov being the last to do so. As with Glinka and Chaikovskii, Rimskii-Korsakov's three Pushkin-based works remain standards in the Russian repertory. Furthermore, his Mozart and Salieri (1897) seems to have good standing in the west, perhaps due to its brevity, non-Russian subject matter, and present-day association with Peter Schaffer's play and motion picture, Amadeus. The Golden Cockerel (1906-1907), no doubt helped into western venues by Diagilev's ballet-styled production, has easily become more of a widespread standard than Rimskii-Korsakov's other Pushkin opera, The Tale of Tsar Saltan (1899-1900), which itself nevertheless gained considerable European theatrical exposure in the 1920s and '30s. This apparent repertorial lag is regrettable, because, among all three of these operas, Tsar Saltan has the most to please any audience. To borrow from Mirksy's (1926: 97) evaluation of Pushkin's original poem, Rimskii-Korsakov's opera "has the same appeal for a child of six and for the most sophisticated poetry reader of sixty. It requires no understanding; its reception is immediate, direct, unquestionable."
It is a well-known fact, and has become part of the myth and cult of Aleksandr Pushkin as Russia's greatest poet, that Derzhavin proclaimed the adolescent Pushkin his successor in 1815 upon hearing the poem "Vospominaniia v Tsarskom Sele" (1814) at the graduation (from the lower to upper classes) of the Tsarskoe Selo Lyceum. That Derzhavin subsequently considered Pushkin Russia's greatest poet is confirmed by hi s comments to his friend S.T. Aksakov in 1815, the year before he died: "Soon a second Derzhavin will appear to the world: this is Pushkin, who still at the Lyceum… Read More
Alexander Pushkin went about, quite deliberately, to write an historical drama without the conventional romantic sub-plot. He remarked in 1829 in reference to his Boris Godunov: “A tragedy without love has appealed to my imagination.” In this, he was probably following the advice of Voltaire who railed against “love intrigues, often foreign to the subject, and so often debased by idle buffooneries.” And with his drama Orestes , the French playwright made the following claim: “I have at least given my countrymen some idea of a tragedy without love , without confidants, and without episodes” (italics mine). The romantic… Read More
In a 1997 essay for a pre-bicentennial exhibition of Pushkiniana in Paris, Hélène Henry noted the irony of Aleksandr Pushkin’s situation: nicknamed “le Français” when he was at school, Pushkin never set foot on French soil. What’s more, his debt to French philosophy and poetry did little to enhance his reputation in the country of Voltaire and André Chénier. “In current opinion,” writes Henry, “nothing could come from Russia but ‘exotic’ objects, marked by local color and folklore: tales and legends, popular refrains, ‘Muscovite songs of old times’, and other ‘verses of moujiks’, as Mérimée expressed it.” When… Read More
Pushkin's novel Eugene Onegin, according to the felicitous definition of the Russian literary critic Vissarion Belinsky, is an encyclopedia of Russian life. The pages of the novel reveal the history, literature, culture, and everyday life of the first third of the nineteenth century. Among the great variety of aspects represented we find private albums.Read More
По существу, сложность пушкинских произведений проявляет себя не только в глубине смысла, но и в том их специфическом свойстве, что для понимания этого смысла приходится совершать предварительную реконструкцию “поверхностного слоя,” который в других случаях дан в тексте непосредственно. Причем проблема стоит особенно остро в драматургии, где слово должно быть реализовано в сценическом действии — речь идет о таких, казалось бы, очевидных вещах, как взаимное расположение персонажей, совершаемые ими жесты и т.д. Хотя пушкинские ремарки не определяют сценическое поведение персонажей жестко однозначным образом, однако во всяком случае отделяют область допустмых интерпретаций (и их сценических реализаций) от того, что тексту противоречит.… Read More