Opera Scotland

Alexander Nevsky Alexander Nevsky, Cantata op78

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


Vladimir Lugovskoy



First Performance: Moscow (Conservatiory Great Hall), 17 May 1939.

First Performance in UK: tbc.

First Performance in Scotland: Edinburgh (Usher Hall), 2 September 1975 (perhaps earlier).



Sergei Eisenstein's film Alexander Nevsky, with specially composed music by Prokofiev, was first shown in Moscow, at the Bolshoi Theatre  on 23 November 1938. The plot concerns historical events, when Russian territory was invaded by an army of teutonic crusader knights intent on conquest. They sack the city of Pskov in 1242, but the Russians unite under the leadership of Alexander Nevsky and defeat them, A highlight of the war is the famous Battle on the Ice, filmed in spectacular fashion.

Prokofiev had already set to work to produce a cantata, using music from the most important episodes. Some 40 minutes of music was re-arranged and re-orchestrated for its first performance on  17 May 1939, when Prokofiev conducted the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus.



The cantata consists of seven movements. The first is for orchestra alone. The sixth introduces a lament for mezzo-soprano solo. The remaining five varied scenes are for chorus and orchestra.

They are:

1   Rus under the Mongol yoke.

2   Song about Alexander Nevsky.

3   The Crusaders in Pskov.

4   Arise, Russian People.

5   Battle on the Ice

6   The Field of the Dead.

7   Alexander's Entry into Pskov.

The Cast


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