Opera Scotland


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1990s - 1 tour

1990 - Bolshoi Opera, Moscow
Fully Staged with Orchestra

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Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov (born Tikhvin, 18 March 1844; died Lyubensk, 21 June 1908)


The Composer


Libretto (1872) by Viktor Krilov (written for Rimsky, Borodin, Cui, Musorgsky and Minkus)



First Performance: St Petersburg (Mariinsky Theatre), 1 November 1892.

First Performance in UK: London (Barbican Hall), 7 May 1989.

First Performance in Scotland: Glasgow (Exhibition and Conference Centre), 3 August 1990.

Scottish Opera premiere: N/A.



Mlada is described as a magic opera-ballet in four acts,, and the dance element is very important - indeed the title role is a ghost played by a dancer, almost in the manner of the ballet Giselle. The original collaborative effort was never completed, and Rimsky reused most of what little music he had prepared for it in his own later version. This requires a large orchestra and chorus as well as a ballet company. The visual side also needs to be quite spectacular. It is therefore hardly surprising that the work has rarely been performed since. When Glasgow had its year as European Capital of Culture in 1990, several important events occurred. Perhaps the longest-lasting was the construction of a large new concert hall as a belated replacement for St Andrews Hall (destroyed by fire in 1962). However the most prestigious visiting company was the Bolshoi Opera. led by conductor Alexander Lazarev, who went on to develop a fruitful relationship with the RSNO. Seven performances were given (the other three being Tchaikovsky's Maid of Orleans) in a converted Exhibition Centre. The stage was built from scratch and worked remarkably well. The following week in Edinburgh, as part of the Festival, the company performed Prokofiev's Duenna. They paid a second visit to Edinburgh the following year, with Eugene Onegin and Christmas Eve, and visits to Scotland by Russian musicians have now become gratifyingly frequent.


Main Characters

Prince Mstivoy (bass)

Princess Voyslava, his daughter (soprano)

Morena, goddess of darkness (mezzo-soprano)

Prince Yaromir (tenor)

Mlada, a ghost (dancer)

Lumir, a Czech guest (mezzo-soprano)

Veglasniy, high priest of the sun (baritone)


Plot Summary

Prince Yaromir's fiancée, Mlada, has been poisoned by a neighbouring prince, Mstivoy, so that his daughter Voyslava may marry him instead, thus uniting the two realms. Voyslava asks the goddess of darkness, Morena,  to make Yaromir forget his first love. A festival follows with guests from other countries, including Lumir, a Czech, Representative national dances take place. Mlada's ghost rescues Yaromir from the unwelcome attentions of Voyslava. On a mountain during a witches' sabbath, various attempts are made to seduce Yaromir, but Mlada protects him from all of them, including a vision of Cleopatra. Yaromir now appeals to the sun god Radegast for advice, and the priest, Veglasniy, reveals Voyslava's guilt. She confesses and begs for mercy, but Yaromir kills her and Morena appears to take her off to hell. She then conjures up a great storm which destroys the city and its inhabitants, uniting Yaromir and Mlada in death.

The Cast

 a vision
First Market Woman
First Merchant
 a good spirit
 a Czech visitor
 from Novgorod
 a ghost
 goddess of darkness
Prince Mstivoy
Prince Yaromir
Princess Voyslava
 Mstivoy's daughter
Second Market Woman
Second Merchant
Third Market Woman
 High Priest of Radegast
 from Novgorod

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