Opera Scotland


Tours by decade

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


Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko.


Poem Tsygany (The Gypsies 1824) by Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837).



First performance: Moscow (Bolshoi Theatre), 9 May 1893.

First performance in UK: London (London Opera House), 15 July 1915.

First performance in Scotland: Edinburgh (Usher Hall), 24 August 2008 (Concert).

Scottish Opera première: Glasgow (Theatre Royal), 6 May 2018 (concert).



Rachmaninov's first opera was a student work, highly praised by Tchaikovsky, and seen at the time as forecasting an excellent future for him as a composer in general and of operas in particular. The potential was not fulfilled, at least in opera, although there is plenty of good music in the two successors, and its popularity has not really been maintained either.



Aleko (baritone).

Young Gypsy (tenor).

Zemfira, Aleko's wife (soprano)

Old Gypsy, Zemfira's father (bass)

Old Gypsy woman (mezzo-soprano).


Plot Summary

Aleko, a misanthropic character, and middle-aged, has abandoned his conventional role in society and gone off to live with a tribe of gypsies. He has fallen for one of their number Zemfira, and they have a child. However she quickly becomes bored with him, and takes a young gypsy for her lover. Her father had endured similar betrayal some years before. Aleko is naturally of a jealous nature, and when he finds Zemfira with her boyfriend he kills them both. The gypsy tribe expels him from their society and he is left alone.

The Cast

Old Gypsy
 Zemfira's father
Old Gypsy woman
Young Gypsy
 Aleko's wife

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