Great dramas in life on the stage
Mikhail Glinka’s „A Life for the Czar“ (1836) and „Ruslan and Ludmila“ (1842) are generally considered as the first Russian operas. Russia, whose culture was strongly influenced by western Europe, developed a great hunger for operas around the middle of the 19th century. The opera became the expression of a unique artistic identity. The works created at that time were based almost exclusively on national subjects such as fairy tales, grand historical tableaux or realistic portrayals of timely topics. Composers turned to their own traditions for inspiration, culling ideas from folk music and the music of the Orthodox church.
Tchaikovsky is no exception. His major operas „Eugen Onegin“ and „Pikowaja dama“ (The Queen of Spades), along with the historical drama „Mazepa“, are based on literary sources written by the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. What do Tchaikovsky’s Russian stage works tell us today, in a world that is shaken by economic crises, against the background of a modern-day Russian society that is losing its bearings („Queen of Spades“ at the Komische Oper Berlin), and in a time in which the high percentage of singles expresses a restless search for the perfect partner („Eugen Onegin“ at the Oper Leipzig)?
The current premieres underline the fact that the great dramas in life can truly be found on the stage. For Breitkopf & Härtel, this is an occasion to report about them and to produce a new performance material of the opera „Mazepa“ for the summer of 2011, which will then join the ranks of its fellow works „Eugen Onegin“, „The Queen of Spades“ and the one-acter „Yolanta“.