Main content
Sorry, this episode is not currently available

Episode 1

Donald Macleod explores Russian opera, starting with Verstovsky's Askold's Grave, Glinka's A Life for the Tsar, Dargomizhsky's The Stone Guest and Mussorgsky's The Marriage.

As part of the BBC's focus on opera in 2010, Donald Macleod explores the rich tradition of Russian opera, from Glinka to Schnittke. Opera began in Italy and that's where Russia got it from too; a string of Italians from Ristori to Cimarosa staged productions in St Petersburg and thereby planted the seeds from which Russia's own operatic tradition eventually sprang. That first sapling appeared in 1836 with Mikhail Glinka's A Life for the Tsar, universally regarded as the first 'real' Russian opera. In The Stone Guest, Alexander Dargomïzhsky continued the move away from the Italian tradition with his naturalistic approach to text-setting, which removed the distinction between aria and recitative. Mussorgsky took part in early private run-throughs of Dargomïzhsky's work and was so impressed that he decided to try his hand at the same kind of thing; the result was The Marriage, his first opera and an important milestone on the way to his masterpiece, Boris Godunov.

1 hour

Last on

Mon 27 Dec 2010 12:00

More episodes


You are at the first episode

See all episodes from Composer of the Week

Music Played

  • Giovanni Paisiello

    Il barbiere di Siviglia (1776) - extract from Act 1:

    Performer: Duet: 'Non dubitar, o Figaro' Performer: Dénes Gulyas (Count Almaviva), István Gáti (Figaro), Hungarian State Orchestra, Adám Fischer (conductor)

    • Hungaroton HCD 12525-26-2.
  • Alexey Nikolayevich Verstovsky

    Askold's Grave (1835)

    Performer: - extract from Act 3: Nadezhda's Aria Performer: Galina Simkina (soprano - Nadezhda), Academic Large Choir, Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra, Yuri Nikonenko (conductor)

    • Consonance 81-0015.
  • Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka

    A Life for the Tsar (Ivan Susanin) (1836)

    Performer: - extract from Act 4 Performer: Lyubomir Karoleev (bass - Susanin), Sofia National Opera Chorus, Sofia Festival Orchestra, Emil Tchakarov (conductor)

    • Sony S3K 46 487.
  • Modest Mussorgsky

    The Marriage (1868) - scene 2

    Performer: Vladimir Khrulev (Podkolesin), Ludmilla Kolmakova (Fiokla Ivanovna), USSR Ministry of Culture Symphony Orchestra, Gennadi Rozhdestvensky (conductor)

    • Olympia OCD 145.
  • Alexander Dargomïzhsky

    The Stone Guest (1869)

    Performer: - extract from Act 2 (conclusion) Performer: Nikolai Vassiliev (Don Juan), Vyacheslav Pochapsky (Leporello), Nikolai Nizienko (the Commander), Performer: Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra, Andrey Chistiakov (conductor)

    • Brilliant Classics 94028.
    • 4.


Composers A to Z

Composers A to Z

Visit the extensive audio archive of Radio 3 programmes about Composers and their works.

Who knew? Five eye-opening stories from Composer of the Week

Who knew? Five eye-opening stories from Composer of the Week

The production team reflects on 5 of Donald Macleod’s best stories from the last 20 years

A man out of time – why Parry's music and ideas were at odds with his image...

A man out of time – why Parry's music and ideas were at odds with his image...

The composer of Jerusalem was very far from the conservative figure his image suggests.

Five reasons why we love Parry's Jerusalem

Five reasons why we love Parry's Jerusalem

What is the strange power of Jerusalem which makes strong men weep?

Composer Help Page

Composer Help Page

Find resources and contacts for composers from within the classical music industry.