Tsarina

Libretto by Yuri Ryashentsev and Galina Polidi

Stage Director – Dmitry Bertman
Music Director – Konstantin Chudovsky
Set and Costume Designers – Igor Nezhny and Tatiana Tulubieva
Light Designer – Damir Ismagilov
Stage Choreographer  – Edwald Smirnov
Author of the idea – Lev Leschenko,
Playing time: 2 hours 40 minutes (one intermission)
Premiere: July 22,.2009 (Alexandrinsky theatre, Saint-Petersburg)
Language of performance: Russian

"Tsarina" is a bright and festive show, based on contemporary music and literary material, designated for family viewing. Opera about the greatest of Russian tsarinas Catherine II is written by outstanding composer of our times David Tukhmanov, libretto is written by Yuri Riashentsev and Galina Polidi. During two hours and ten minutes the spectators see the whole story of the reign and love of Catherine with the sublime decorations at the background, recreating the interiors of Tsarskoe Selo Palace. 

Luxuriant and splendid decor is supplemented with the tens of mirrors, the light of 696 candles  and inimitable scenic costumes.

HISTORY

“Tsarina (Catherine the Great) is still the only opera by David Tukhmanov. It was written in 2005 based on libretto by Yury Ryashentsev and Galina Polidi. The theatre company of Helikon-Opera presented the world premiere of “Tsaritsa” on 22 July 2009 on the stage of the Aleksandrinsky theatre (Saint-Petersburg). The first performance in Moscow took place on 25 November the same year at the State Kremlin Palace. No contemporary opera can compare to “Tsaritsa” by the intension of tour performances. The play was shown in Vladivostok, Krasnodar, Krasnoyarsk, Nizhny Novgorod, Novosibirsk, Omsk, Orenburg, Rostov-on-Don, Samara, Ufa and was put on the new stage of the Bolshoi Theatre.

The songs by David Tukhmanov such as “Aist na kryshe (Stork on the roof)”, “Kak prekrasen etot mir (What a wonderful world)”, “Den Pobedy (The Victory Day)” and “Ya lyublyu tebya, Rossia (I love you, Russia)” are famous throughout the country. The composer wrote music to straight plays and a musical “Bagdadsky vor (The Bagdad Thief)” (1990). David Fyodorovich explains his decision to turn to opera with just musical reasons: “I had thought over it long before I turned to the score and noticed that despite fashion crazes, really popular and repertoire have always been those compositions, where bright melody dominates. And as today’s situation at our scene just expels the songs based on a little bit rich and developed melody, I’ve decided to try to realize my melodic potential exactly in the opera genre. “Tsarina” is a Russian opera: there are choruses, choir patters — this is certainly the tradition developed by Mussorgsky”.

SUMMARY
Act 1
Young Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst arrived in Russia to be the great princess Catherine, the wife of the crown prince of Russian Empire. Now, after the death of Elizabeth, Peter III is going to immure his wife in the Schlusselburg castle and to marry his favorite Elizaveta Vorontsova. This news has come to Catherine with Grigory Orlov. He swears that the guard regiments will lead her to the throne. The people dispraise Peter III and his behavior at the Elizabeth’s funeral. Catherine reviews the results of her living with Peter III. The guardsmen instigated to a riot, take the Catherine’s side. As a result of the riot Peter III abdicates from the throne and dies in Ropsha in unexplained circumstances. 
Catherine has been hailed the empress. Will Grigory Orlov, having helped her so much, govern with her? Catherine pretends she can’t decide it by herself and applies to the State Council. Count Nikita Panin announces the desired verdict. Catherine, dressed in the coat of the Semenovsky regiment, for the first time gives a ball as the empress. The foreign ambassadors are impressed with the “Asian” luxury. The main news is the end of the Orlov’s influence and appearance of a new favorite on the horizon.

The brilliant emperorship has been overshadowed by the insurrection of Yemelyan Pugachev, pretending to be Peter III, survived by a miracle. However there is only the news about a peasant’s war, which is somewhere far enough, at the distant borders of the empire. And then it becomes known that the rebels have defeated and the judgement is delivered upon Pugachev. 

Act 2
Catherine is happy with her new favorite — it is the first time she has someone by her side who is worthy of shaping the future of the state. Catherine and Grigory Potemkin dream about the conquest of Taurida. Is she ready to share her throne and power with somebody this time? The new marriage of the empress seems to be settled, but there are so many volunteers to get Catherine’s favor even for a while, and the young cornet Platon Zubov is one of them. Potemkin makes Catherine a condition — goes into convent and it seems to be successful, as he is in her favour again. 

Celebrating the Crimea conquest, knyaz Potemkin-Tavrichesky gives a wickedly luxurious ball in Saint-Petersburg, eclipsing all the previous occasions. The one, who once built the renowned Potemkin villages, now reconstructs the view of Sevastopol at the banks of the Neva River. Alas, the empress leaves the ball with Zubov... Catherine the Great is playing with her grandchildren. Her senior granddaughter is Aleksandra Pavlovna (Aleksandrina) is now the bride of Gustav, the young king of Sweden, and while the empress is dreaming about a stable peace with the dangerous neighbor, the youth having fallen in love with each other on the spot, are dreaming about happiness. The Minister for External Affairs Platon Zubov is charged to prepare the marriage contract. And there is only one obstacle: the Swedes want the bride to convert from the Orthodox Christianity to Lutheranism and Zubov can do nothing about it. The engagement is delayed, but Catherine has never taken a loss. Gustav doesn’t let Aleksandrina to maintain her belief in Sweden, but Catherine also can’t concede. She has been reigning for thirty four years and she can’t damage the reputation of the state, even if the happiness of her own granddaughter depends on it. 

 

 

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