Opera Scotland

Fiery Angel The Fiery Angel; Ognenniy Angel

Tours by decade

1970s - 1 tour

1970 - Frankfurt Opera
Fully Staged with Orchestra

2010s - 1 tour

2017 - Scottish Opera
Concert performance

Tours by location


Sergey Prokofiev (born Sontsovka, Ukraine, 23 April 1891; died Moscow, 5 March 1953)


The Composer


Novel (1908) by Valery Bryusov.



First Performance: Paris (Théâtre des Champs-Elysées), 25 November 1954 (concert).

First Performance: Venice (La Fenice), 15 September 1955 (staged).

First Performance in UK: London (Sadler's Wells Theatre), 27 July 1965.

First Performance in Scotland: Edinburgh (King's Theatre), 24 August 1970.

Scottish Opera première: Glasgow (City Halls), 3 December 2017 (concert).



This is a powerful piece of expressionist drama depicting the sexual obsessions of the leading character, Renata. It is therefore distinctly different from Prokofiev's other operas, particularly its predecessor The Love for Three Oranges.  Prokofiev composed the opera over four years from 1919, but did not work on the orchestration until there was a production in prospect, in Berlin in 1926. That fell through, and the work was not performed in his lifetime.

The production that was brought to Edinburgh from Frankfurt in 1970 was much criticised by experts as the scenes with Faust and Mephistopheles were cut, with Ruprecht simply dying of his wounds. German theatrical organizations have always found Gounod's adaptation of Goethe's Faust hard to accept, and The Fiery Angel was treated with the same lack of respect.


Main Characters

Renata (soprano)

Ruprecht, a young knight (baritone)

Jakob Glock, a bookseller (tenor)

Agrippa of Nettesheim, a philosopher (tenor)

Count Heinrich, Renata's 'Fiery Angel' (silent)

Mathias Wissmann, Ruprecht's friend (baritone)

Mephistopheles (tenor)

Johann Faust (bass)


Plot Summary

The drama takes place in one of the German states in the sixteenth century. Renata has, for most of her life, been obsessed with Madiel, an imaginary creature she considers to be her guardian angel. but whose identity she seems to confuse with a former lover, Count Heinrich, who had abandoned her. Because of her frequently hysterical behaviour, most people suspect her of witchcraft.

At an inn, she tells all this to Ruprecht, a knight who has returned from travels that have taken him to several countries, including America. He becomes fascinated by her and this is reinforced by the predictions of a fortune-teller introduced by the innkeeper. Ruprecht takes Renata to Cologne, where she continues her search for Heinrich and obtains all the books on magic she can. The bookseller takes Ruprecht to meet the philosopher Agrippa, who refuses to help the knight. Renata, having tracked down Heinrich to his home decides that he is not, after all, her angel, and she asks Ruprecht to kill him. Ruprecht then enters Heinrich's house to challenge him to a duel. Heinrich can be seen at  a window, clearly Renata's 'fiery angel' in appearance. On seeing him, Renata changes her mind again, persuading Ruprecht not to kill Heinrich. Ruprecht is instead himself wounded, and Renata nurses him. A doctor brought by Mathias pronounces that he will live (though in the 1970 Frankfurt staging he dies at this point).

Renata and Ruprecht live together in Cologne, but she is not satisfied as she still has visions and is determined to take the veil. He tries to dissuade her without success, and while he is alone he is joined by Faust and Mephistopheles, who have been looking on. The devil, in sardonic mood, because the innkeeper has not provided the requested mutton, stages a trick wherein he appears to eat the young waiter. When the lookers on are duly appalled he reveals the boy is actually in a dustbin, though still terrified.

Some time later, in the convent, Renata is questioned by the abbess, because since she arrived the routine of the nuns has been highly disturbed. Mephistopheles and Faust bring Ruprecht to observe events. Renata's  conduct is examined by the Inquisitor, and when the level of hysteria among the other nuns reaches an intolerable level, he pronounces a sentence of death on her.

The Cast

Agrippa von Nettesheim
 a philosopher and magician
 a waiter
Count Heinrich von Otterheim
 Renata's 'Fiery Angel'
First Neighbour
First Nun
First Skeleton
Fortune Teller
 at the inn
 at Cologne
Jakob Glock
 a bookseller
Johann Faust
 Doctor of Philosophy and Medecine
Mathias Wissmann
 Ruprecht's old university friend
 at the inn
 a woman loved by Ruprecht
 a knight
Second Neighbour
Second Nun
Second Skeleton
 to Count Heinrich
Third Neighbour
Third Skeleton

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