Opera "Aleko": content, video, interesting facts, history

S. Rachmaninov opera "Aleko"

A little more than 20 days of work on the opera, 19 years of its author ... Who would have thought that the thesis work of a young graduate of the conservatory would be performed for at least several centuries? But the young man was called Sergey Vasilievich Rakhmaninov, debutant librettist made VI. Nemirovich-Danchenko, and at the heart of the plot lay eternal Pushkin's lines. Thanks to these names, “Aleko” has already entered the history of world opera on an equal footing with creations of recognized masters since its premiere.

Summary of the opera Rachmaninoff "Aleko"and many interesting facts about this work read on our page.




AlekobaritoneRussian living in the gypsy camp
ZemfirasopranoGypsy wife Aleko
Young gypsytenorZemfira's lover
Old manbassZemfira's father


Two years ago, Aleko came to the gypsy camp for Zemfira, whom he loved. Until recently, this feeling was mutual, but she was fascinated by the Young Gypsy. One evening, the Old Man tells Aleko that his wife, with her little daughter in her arms, had left, having run away with her lover. Aleko is surprised that the Old Man did not revenge for treason. At night, Zemfira leaves for a meeting with the Young Gypsy. In the morning, the couple returning meets Aleko, he tries to appeal to the feelings of her beloved, but in her they have long cooled. In a fit of rage, the jealous man kills them both. Gypsies are driving him out of the camp.

Duration of performance
I Act
55 min.

Interesting Facts

  • Rachmaninoff was not the only composer who wrote a thesis on this libretto that year - his classmates, N.S. Morozov and L.E. Conus
  • Pushkin's "Gypsies" were used as a plot of the opera libretto and before Rachmaninoff. In 1850, an opera by V.N. Kashperov appeared, in the 80s - the work of G.A. Lishin Twenty years after Rachmaninoff, the opera "Gypsies" was written by one of the main representatives of Verism, Leoncavallo. A total of 14 operas and 2 ballets were created for this plot, not counting the numerous romances and the orchestral suite.
  • In October 1893, Rakhmaninov was invited to conduct the production of "Aleko" in Kiev. The audience accepted the performance well, despite the fact that at the first stage, the performers of Zemfira and Young Gypsy in a duet forgot the words.
  • Aleko is the 14th most popular Russian opera. Each season it is performed about 80 times, ahead of the number of performances "Snow Maiden"Rimsky-Korsakov,"Mazepa"Tchaikovsky and"Ruslana and Lyudmila"Glinka.
  • The libretto of Nemirovich-Danchenko was repeatedly criticized for changing and simplifying the ideas of Pushkin’s poem, and the excessive melodramatization of the poet’s philosophy.
  • Aleko's part was one of the best in the repertoire of F.I. Shalyapin.

  • Cavatina Aleko is called the last great aria in the history of Russian opera. She is the center of the opera and later the composer, preparing her next musical edition, turned to her friend, MA. Elephant, with a request to expand the central part of the aria. It was the only addition made by the author in the opera.
  • When Rachmaninov was preparing the opera for the premiere, Tchaikovsky approached him and suggested that “Aleko” be given one evening with “Iolanta” in the next season. The young composer was so discouraged by such a high honor that he could not even utter a word.
  • On the works of A.S. Pushkin wrote several chamber operas: "The Stone Guest" A.S. Dargomyzhsky, "Feast during the Plague" Ts.A. Cui, "Mozart and Salieri" ON. Rimsky-Korsakov. "Aleko" S.V. Rachmaninov is the most popular of them.
  • Two other operas by Rachmaninov are connected with Pushkin and Tchaikovsky: The Miserly Knight uses Pushkin’s poem as its text, and Francesca da Rimini is written according to MP’s libretto. Tchaikovsky, brother composer. Pushkin's poems also formed the basis of many of Rachmaninov’s romances, his musical sketches for Boris Godunov and Poltava are known, and he himself always considered himself a pupil and follower of Tchaikovsky.
  • Sergei Vasilyevich admitted that it was the success of the first opera that prompted him to continue his composing activities.
  • At the final exam of the Conservatory, where on May 7, 1892 Rachmaninov first played Aleko, the well-known publisher K. A. Gutheil was present, who immediately announced his desire to buy the rights to print the work. In the same year, the piano arrangement was released, but the full score was never published. Its first publication took place only in 1953.
  • In 2015, the Belgian theater La Monnet presented in one evening all three operas of the composer in the project “Rachmaninov. Troika”.

Top Opera Numbers

Zemfira's aria "Old husband, menacing husband" (listen)

Cavatina Aleko "The whole camp is asleep ..." (listen)

The story of the Old Man "The magic power of the chants ..." (listen)

History of creation and productions

The history of this opera begins with the libretto, which was written by V.I. Nemirovich-Danchenko is impressed by the novelties of the past Moscow theater season - "Rural honor"P. Mascagni. S.V. Rachmaninov, having received the libretto as an assignment for the final exam, I became interested in this plot. However, his inspiration drew his strength not from the work of fashionable verists, but from the Russian operatic tradition on which Glinka relied, Mussorgsky, Chaikovsky. In particular, the closest example was the opera "Queen of spades", first performed a year and a half earlier. Despite the very short time allotted by the school to write a thesis - 1 month, the work on Aleko was completed even less than in 25 days. Rachmaninoff unconditionally won the big gold medal of the conservatory.

P.I. Chaikovsky, calling Rachmaninov his "grandson in music", was fascinated by his first work. Maître did his best to help the young composer in the process of preparing the opera for the production, which premiered at the Bolshoi Theater on April 27, 1893. The work of the debut composer was waiting for incredible success with the public. Of course, the audience at the theater was impressed by the warm reception given by Tchaikovsky’s opera, which applauded while standing “leaning out of the box”.

Pyotr Ilyich agreed with the management of the Bolshoi Theater on the inclusion of Aleko in the permanent repertoire. From December 1893 it was planned to give the opera in one evening with his "Yolanta“. Unfortunately, on October 25, Tchaikovsky died unexpectedly, and Aleko sounded at the Bolshoi again only 12 years later - on February 2, 1905, under the control of the author himself.

The legend became the staging of the centenary of A.S. Pushkin. It took place in the theater hall of the Tauride Palace in St. Petersburg on May 27, 1899. It was attended by F.I. Chaliapin, M. Deishi-Sionitskaya, I. Ershov. Rakhmaninov was present at the performance and was pleased with it, but the critic has ambiguously made the decision of Chaliapin to go out in the role of Aleko to make up for Pushkin.

In Moscow, the opera was resumed in 1903. In 1926 he staged Aleko in his theater and one of its authors, V.I. Nemirovich-Danchenko.

Music "Aleko" in the movies

Lenfilm created two film versions of Aleko. In 1953, a film by S. Sidelev was released, in which the main roles were played by A. Ognivtsev (Aleko), M. Reisen (The Old Man), I. Zubkovskaya (Zemfira). In the film of V. Okuntsov in 1986, E. Nesterenko (Aleko), N. Volshaninova, sang S. Volkova (Zemfira), V. Golovin, V. Matorin (Old Man) sang.

Opera music rarely becomes a part of movie soundtracks, the only one can be called "The Tale of Love and Darkness" of 2015.

In 1937, when the world celebrated the centenary of Pushkin’s death, Shalyapin proposed Rakhmaninov to write the first act - the prologue for Aleko, in which the fate of the hero would be revealed before the beginning of the opera. The composer rejected the idea - 45 years passed, and in returning to his youthful work he saw neither sense nor interest. He understood that this step would have turned into a confrontation between a 64-year-old experienced master and an inspired 19-year-old young man, both of which he himself was. "Aleko"remained the masterpiece of a novice genius, the splashing sparks of young talent and creative energy.

Watch the video: Luciano Pavarotti Recital - Nessun Dorma. Metropolitan OperaNew York ᴴᴰ (October 2019).

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