P. I. Tchaikovsky
Duration: 2 hours 45 minutes

Stage director: Dmitry Bertman
Musical director: Kirill Tikhonov
Set and costume designers - Igor Nezhny and Tatiana Tulubieva
Choirmaster: Evgeny Ilyin
Light design: Denis Enyukov

Premiere: January, 1, 1999

The works of Tchaikovsky are known to be closely related with his biography. Almost every writing was a confession of the composer. Therefore plots of his operas often remind of moments of his own life. "Mazeppa" is no exception. During his work on this opera some dramatic events took place in the life of his beloved niece: her love affair with an older man and the birth of a bastard.
"Mazeppa" tells a story of a girl called Mary who falls in love with an elderly hetman, Mazeppa. This relationship causes a series of tragic events: the execution of the girl's father, the drama of a man in love with her, the collapse of the family, Mary herself began to go crazy. This is a story about a destructive, fatal force of an abnormal passion, which can make people lose their head.

"Helikon's "Mazeppa" became a whole event in the theatre life: the opera extremely difficult to perform it on stage was turned into a spectacular show on the “Helikon-Opera” stage. There is the miracle of transformation which can be made only under control of a great professionalism of a truly musical theatre staff. Due to a precise staging the music sounds completely different," - wrote a musical critic, Dmitry Morozov, in the newspaper "Mariinsky Theatre".

By the way, for the first time after the October Revolution "Mazeppa" was set in 1922 in Moscow at the Zimin Opera, whose history is inextricably linked with the current building of "Helikon-Opera" in Nikitskaya Street.


Act one
Girls have gathered for the midsummer festival. Maria, daughter of Vasily Kochubey, comes out to tell the girls that her father is entertain¬ing Mazeppa. After girls leave, Maria muses about her incomprehensi¬ble infatuation with the old hetman: "I love everything about him - his gray hair, his deep wrinkles, his flashing, deep-set eyes, his sharp and witty black..." The young Cossack Andrey enters, perceives that she is troubled, and confesses his love for her: she answers by confessing her helpless love for Mazeppa.

Mazeppa thanks Kochubey for host, but before leaving suddenly broaches his wish for Maria's hand in marriage. Kochubey is thunder¬struck, reminds the hetman of the difference in their ages, but Mazeppa is serious and insistent. Kochubey, enraged, declares that their friendship is at an end and orders his guest to leave. Finally Mazeppa turns to Maria and demands that she choose: "Will you come with me away from here, or are we to part forever?" She rushes into his arms, crying, "I am yours!" Mazeppa sweeps her away.

Lyubov Kochubey exhorts her husband to take revenge on Mazeppa. Kochubey reveals his plan to Lyubov, Iskra and Andrey. In the day of their former friendship Kochubey had often heard from Mazeppa of "impending changes in his plans, negotiations, rebellions". He concludes that Mazeppa is planning to ally himself with the Swedes against the tsar so as to gain control of the Ukraine for himself. Kochubey resolves to denounce the traitor. Andrey - despite the risk involved (for tsar has always trusted Mazeppa), but with a score of his own to settle with the man who stole his beloved - offers himself as messenger. He sets out for the capital.

In spite of dramatic part with parents, Maria is happy with Mazeppa who loves her so sincerely.

Kochubey, disbelieved by the tsar, has been remanded, together with Iskra, to Mazeppa. Awaiting execution, he is seized with helpless despair at his humiliation: "God of justice!., to be handed over by the tsar into the power of the tsar's enemy for punishment..." His gloomy reflec¬tions are interrupted by the appearance of Orlik, Mazeppa's henchman, who has come for one final interrogation. He demands to know where Kochubey has hidden his treasure, which will revert after his death to Mazeppa. Kochubey retorts defiantly that he had three treasures, of which two, his honor and his daughter, have been taken from him; but the third, vengeance, remains in God's hands. Orlik grimly summons the torturer.

Act two
Mazeppa admires the star-studded sky, thinking about Maria. How she will accept the execution of her father? Maria enters, reproaching him for neglecting her. He reassures her of his love and constancy, and reveals to her the plans that have been preoccupying him: "I shell per¬haps attain the throne!" Maria is thrilled, and in answer to the hetman's question, "If your father or your husband dearer for you?", she says that he is the dearest.

Maria is alone. All at once her mother appears to plead for Maria's intercession on behalf of her husband. Maria at first does not under¬stand, for she has never been told of Kochubey's fate. When she realize the misfortune she has brought upon her family, she faints. But Lyubov is insistent: Maria must hurry, she is unique person who can save Kochubey.

But it's too late: execution is done. Maria, surrounded by crowd, drives mad.

There are ruins of Kochubey's house. Andrey enters, looking for Mazeppa. Coming upon Kochubey's ruined homestead, he feels with particular poignancy his losses and his desire for revenge. Unexpectedly Mazeppa and Orlik appear. Andrey throws upon him with saber drawn, but is shot and fatally wounded. Maria enters. She is mad. Mazeppa gazes upon her in despair and in pain, but she does not recognize him and fears. Orlik hurries Mazeppa off, they leave. Maria spies the wounded Andrey not recognizing him too. He dies with lullaby by Maria.

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