четверг, 26 ноября 2009 г.

THE FIRST RUSSIAN OPERA “ANIUTA”


We are taking a journey to the year 1772. The season – approximately as we are in now. There is also a specific location, too: the Hermitage theatre of St.Petersburg was hosting the premiere of the first Russian opera “Aniuta”.

Of course, you will ask me who wrote it… The story here is quite unusual. The fact is, the first Russian operas were created as a compilation of various familiar and much-loved melodies. As a rule, the whole thing was put together by the author of the libretto. In our case it was a well-known Russian man of letters Alexei Lvov. He was the one to invent the story of the girl Aniuta, foster-daughter of a peasant man, who was almost given away in marriage to her Father’s workman Filatka. The girl falls in love with nobleman Victor, and receives an opportunity to marry him once it transpires she is, in fact, of noble birth.

A quite widespread story-line, yet, with a purely Russian colour, thanks to the music that sounds in the opera – Russian choral chants, romances and folk melodies…

Let me again introduce the characters: Aniuta, foster-daughter of a peasant; the peasant himself, the Father; his hand Filatka, and nobleman Victor.

The first to enter the action is the peasant Father.

“I have no more strength to plough or sow. There is but one I can rely on – my daughter Aniuta, yet even she isn’t our true daughter. The servant girl brought her to us when she was an infant. She never told us where she got her… Leaving 100 rubles, she herself disappeared. I ran through the money, but managed to bring up the child. How should I live next? Why not let Aniuta marry the worker Filatka. Why, here he comes!

“I have a daughter, but I cannot place her to do all the chores! She is so young!

“If we were one family, I’d be your slave!”

“I am not against the notion! Then let’s make a deal! If you like my daughter, I am a man of my word!”

And here is Aniuta in person.

“Oh, Father, I didn’t see you! It’s this pensive nature of mine. Mother requested that I call you. I don’t know why!”

“Well, I do know: I believe she intends to speak of your marriage!”

So, the workman Filatka is chosen to be Aniuta’s husband. Understandably, she isn’t at all pleased with that!

“Why are you so grieved, Aniuta?”

“What do you care?”

“Don’t you know that I have loved you for a year now? And maybe shall become your husband soon?”

“You!? My husband?! Why you ugly fool!”



As we already know, Aniuta’s heart belonged to another man – Victor, a nobleman. But as it was at all times – an unequal marriage was a difficult obstacle for the lovers!

“Oh, Victor, if I had never met you, I wouldn’t be so tormented now, shedding tears into my pillow in the silence of the night! I am a peasant’s daughter, while you are gentry. What are we to do?!”

“Even so, I am the sole Master in the village. One and all should obey me… So we have nothing to fear! My light, my love – I have the means of ending this torment of ours.”

“But how?”

“Your Father isn’t wealthy. And gives you off in marriage just to get another pair of hands. So if I give him money enough to hire a hundred workers, shall not he give up this business?”

“Forgive me, do! God willing, our hopes shall not be thwarted! Oh, Victor! With you I find solace even in idle hour, but without you all life and pleasures are naught but torment to me!”

Of course, this story has a happy end. Aniuta’s Father is quite happy to oblige Victor, and at this point it transpires that Aniuta is in fact a nobleman’s daughter. The marriage of Aniuta and Victor becomes an equal one, and everyone joyfully starts getting ready for the wedding.

“Aniuta” — an enchanting story from the Russian 18th century!.. Perhaps, a rather naïve first attempt to create a national opera. A very special event in the life of musical Russia: the country, that just several decades earlier had perceived the opera as some totally alien oddity, was now starting to create its own opera masterpieces.

Let us make a note of the date: the winter of 1772. The premiere of the first Russian opera “Aniuta”.

Source:The Voice of Russia

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