Opera Scotland

Miserly Knight The Miserly Knight; Skupoi Rytsar'

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Sergey Rachmaninov (born Semyonovo, 1 April 1873; died Beverly Hills, California, 28 March 1943)




Little tragedy (1830) by Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin.



First Performance: Moscow (Bolshoi Theatre), 24 January 1906.

First Performance in UK: Glyndebourne (Festival Theatre),  1 July 2004.

First performance in Scotland:  Perth (Concert Hall),  18 March 2022.

Scottish Opera premiere: as above.



Rachmaninov, known today primarily for his orchestral works, also composed three one-act operas. His first, Aleko, was a student piece, launched at the Bolshoi in 1893. The other two, The Miserly Knight and Francesca da Rimini, formed a double-bill at the same theatre in 1906.

The Miserly Knight is a dark and serious piece. A Baron, the miser of the title, allows his son to live in poverty. His increasing paranoia allows him to suspect that he is plotted against and that his life is in danger. When the Duke intercedes on the son's behalf, the Baron drops dead.

The role of the Baron is a meaty dramatic part, intended as a vehicle for the great bass-baritone Shalyapin.



Baron, a miser, Albert's father (baritone)

Albert, an impoverished squire (tenor)

Duke (baritone)

Moneylender (tenor)

Servant (bass)


Plot Summary

Albert is kept in poverty by his father who suspects his motives.  Albert tries to borrow money, but the moneylender suggests that Albert could poison his father, to hasten his inheritence.  Albert is horrified and the moneylender is frightened into offering the loan.  Albert decides, instead, to see if the Duke can intercede on his behalf.

The Baron has a soliloquy in which he reflects on his life.  He has become wealthy and powerful due to his meanness, but is now frightened that his son is going to harm him.  He is determined to come back and haunt the son.

When the Baron meets the Duke he complains about his son's supposed actions.  Albert overhears and protests his innocence, but his father challenges him to a duel.  As the Duke tries to intercede the Baron collapses and dies.

The Cast

 an impoverished squire
 a miser, Albert's father
 Albert's servant
 a moneylender

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