Russian epic opera in seven scenes
Libretto by Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov and Vladimir Belsky


Stage Director: Dmitry Bertman
Musical Director: Vladimir Ponkin
Set and Costume Designers: Igor Nezhny and Tatiana Tulubyeva
Light Designer: Damir Ismagilov
Video content designer: Vladimir Alexeev
Choirmaster: Evgeny Ilyin
Stage Choreographer: Edwald Smirnov

Premiere: November 14, 2015
Language of performance: Russian

Is it an ordinary family conflict or traditional Russian epic tale?

The opera “Sadko” by Rimsky-Korsakov is not an epos. It is a reflection of our life in the eyes of eternal history. “Sadko” initiated new era in “Helikon” as it was the first play staged in Stravinsky Hall after the theatre came back to its original home place on Bolshaya Nikitskaya in Moscow.

“Sadko” also opened a new arch of time: first time the play was presented to the audience by Moscow S. Mamontov’s opera’s actors more than a century ago.

Actors of the past could only dream of boundless possibilities that their contemporary colleagues have!

Underwater world, overseas countries, Ilmen lake coast, the ancient city of Novgorod… These places magically appear on the “Stravinsky” stage. Modern plunger system easily transforms space, while unique video projections help the audience to be carried away into the world of opera’s characters.

«Nothing can compete with this play’s beauty. The classical opera of Rimsky-Korsakov turned into an opera-parable about the most precious things in life – human soul and its sufferings» - Valery Kichin, “Rossiyskaya gazeta”.

According to the stage director, «Rimsky-Korsakov opens up as a philosopher in this play. Like Vagner, he creates three worlds: the real world, the underwater world which means the secret world of subconsciousness, and the heavenly world, which is situated above all other worlds and brings Sadko back to the main value that he has got – his family. This value is more important than politics and all the ideas, even the most progressive of them. Acts of bravery must be done for closest people one has, not for mottos or false ideas».


Scene 1
The Novgorod people are feasting and rejoicing their freedom. A gusli player Sadko has been bidden to sing about the wealth of the city and the beauty of the merchants’ wives, but instead he is singing about his dream: about the seas, which are far away from the Novgorod lands and beyond the reach of the Novgorod people, because no river flows from Lake Ilmen into a sea. That’s why Sadko is being dismissed from the feast.

Scene 2
Having left the people, Sadko is singing for the oak forest, for the cane, for Lake Ilmen. The daughters of the Sea King have heard him and are stepping out on the shore. The youngest one, Princess Volkhova knows that Sadko is her betrothed, and she presents him with the golden fishes which will help him reach the far away seas.

Scene 3
The young Sadko’s wife Lyubava Buslaevna has been vainly waiting for her husband all the night long. On his return he is telling her, how the merchants laughed at his dream. But now, minding the golden fishes, the gusli player will make a bet - his head against all the Novgorod goods, that his dream is real. Lyubava Buslaevna is praying for her husband’s salvation.

Scene 4
There is the Novgorod market. Sadko declares the miracle: there are golden fishes in Lake Ilmen. He makes a bet and wins it. Now Sadko is rich. He asks the foreign guests to tell about their lands in order to choose his destination. Sadko is sailing away with his druzhina. Lyubava Buslaevna is in despair.

Scene 5
Sadko has been safely sailing over the seas and trading prosperously for twelve years. The Sea King demands the gusli player to come to him. 

Scene 6
Sadko is taken into the underwater kingdom. The Sea King likes his songs and agrees to bestow the Princess Volkhova in marriage with him. The festive marriage is starting under water, while the storm is breaking out afloat. Suddenly a warrior in the likeness of a wandering minstrel appears and declares: this is the end of the Sea King’s power, Volkhova will be sent to land to be a river, while Sadko will be the singer of his mother-city Novgorod.

Scene 7
Sadko is waking up ashore. Volkhova has become the river, which flows from Lake Ilmen into Lake Ladoga. Lyubava Buslaevna was waiting for Sadko all this time and has now seen him twelve years later. The Novgorod people are rejoicing the sea and the Volkhov river. 


"Sadko" by Ilya Repin, 1876.

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