Sunday, 13 September 2009

306. Mikhail Glinka - Ruslan and Lyudmila (1842)


Title: Ruslan and Lyudmila
Performer: Anna Netrebko, Vladimir Ognovenko, Larissa Diadkova
Conductor: Valery Gergiev
Year: 1995
Length: 3 hours 23 minutes


Let's start with the nitpicking here: this opera is not a particularly dynamic one in terms of setting and songs. It works basically by having one character doing his thing, leaving and another character doing his piece, sometimes for long periods of time. Even duets are a bit rare here, it works mainly as a succession of songs with little interactivity between the characters.

That being said the music is beautiful, really beautiful. The folk influences reveal an astounding depth of originality to the work and the birth of a whole new school of Russian music. In fact Glinka is the father of Russian music that will bring such joys to this list in the future. Much like Wagner creates the Teutonic music par excellence in Germany at this time so is Glinka doing the same for Russia.

The setting is an appropriately fairytaley pre-historic pagan Russia and there are giants, dwarves, sorcerers, witches, brave warriors and enchanted princesses. The whole thing has an air of the fantastic about it and the music is extremely evocative. The Russian obsession with "Orientalism" is already present in this work, the use of Eastern folk elements actually adds to the whole ambience of the album. A beautiful work and a majority important one. Also the DVD that corresponds to this recording is amazing to watch, even if Netrebko is a shit actress the production is so rich and beautiful that this is an essential Opera DVD.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

he opera is based on the 1820 poem of the same name by Aleksandr Pushkin. The multi-authored Russian libretto was written by Valerian Shirkov, Nestor Kukolnik, and N. A. Markevich, among others. Pushkin's untimely death in the famous duel prevented him from writing the libretto himself as planned.

Anna Netrebko sings "Grustno mne, roditel dorogoy!" in the first act:

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