The Tsar’s Bride

Opera by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov in four acts
Libretto by Ilya Tyumenev based on the drama of the same name by Lev Mey
World premiere on November 3, 1899 in Moscow Private Opera of S. I. Mamontov
Premiere at the Estonian National Opera on January 25, 2019

Rimsky–Korsakov, the author of one of the most famous orchestral work Sheherezade, has written fifteen operas, of which “The Tsar’s Bride” is the most notable. The opera shares some common features with the Italian romantic opera and Shakespearean drama. “The Tsar’s Bride” can be described as a historical-situational opera where fictional elements and contradictions with historical truth (usually characteristic of Rimsky-Korsakov’s operas) are missing. The music of the opera, its vocal side in particular, puts the opera above the conventional situational drama, accentuating its tragic nature which ensures the huge popularity of the opera. Rimsky-Korsakov has composed the opera following the example of Italian opera that focused on voice as well as on the main characters’ arias, ensembles and choruses. All Rimski-Korsakov’s operas belong to the repertoires of Russian opera theatres, but “The Tsar’s Bride” is one of the few operas that has gained a high position among Western European opera theatres as well.

The activity of “The Tsar’s Bride”takes place during the reign of Ivan the Terrible. Grigory Gryaznoy, tsar’s bodyguard, is in love with merchant Sobakin’s beautiful daughter Marfa, who is actually the bride of Ivan Lïkov. Lyubasha, Gryaznoy’s lover, poisons Marfa as her rival. The tsar has also feelings for Marfa and wants to marry her. When it comes out that Marfa has been poisoned, Gryaznoy makes sure that Ivan Lïkov would get all the blame. As a result, Gryaznoy kills Lïkov at the request of the tsar.

Staging team

  • Conductors: Jüri Alperten, Kaspar Mänd, Vello Pähn
  • Stage Director: Yuri Alexandrov (The St. Petersburg Chamber Opera)
  • Designer: Victor Gerasimenko (Moscow Novaya Opera)
  • Lighting Designer: Ritšard Bukin
  • Estonian National Opera Orchestra and Chorus




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