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Opera Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov "Sadko" (opera-bylina in seven scenes)
World famous Mariinsky Ballet and Opera - established 1783

Running time: 3 hours 55 minutes

The performance has 2 intermissions

Schedule for Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov "Sadko" (opera-bylina in seven scenes) 2022

Composer: Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Lighting Designer: Vladimir Lukasevich
Principal Chorus Master: Andrei Petrenko
Set Designer: Vyacheslav Okunev
Musical Preparation: Irina Soboleva
Stage Director: Alexei Stepanyuk
Costume Designer: Konstantin Korovin
Choreography: Oleg Ignatiev

Orchestra: Mariinsky Theatre Symphony Orchestra

Opera in 3 acts

Performed in Russian, with synchronised English supertitles

Premiere of this production: 5 March 1993, Kirov Theatre, Leningrad, Russia

The music is highly evocative, and Rimsky-Korsakov's famed powers of orchestration are abundantly in evidence throughout the score. According to the Soviet critic Boris Asafyev, writing in 1922, Sadko constitutes the summit of Rimsky-Korsakov's craft. From the opus 5 tone poem the composer quoted its most memorable passages, including the opening theme of the swelling sea, and other themes as leitmotivs - he himself set out to "utlize for this opera the material of my symphonic poem, and, in any event, to make use of its motives as leading motives for the opera"

Libretto by the composer and Vladimir Belsky

Set designs revived from the original designs by Konstantin Korovin for the 1920 production

•World Premiere: 26 December 1898, Private Russian Opera, Moscow
•Premiere at the Mariinsky Theatre: 26 January 1901

Sadko is an opera in seven scenes by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov to a Russian libretto by the composer with assistance from Vladimir Belsky, Vladimir Stasov, and others.

Sadko was a legendary hero of a Russian bylina (epic tale) with the same name, a merchant and gusli musician from Novgorod.


Tableau I. The merchants of Novgorod are sitting down to a feast, rejoicing in their prosperity. Nezhata, a singer and gusli player from Kiev, sings on the heroic days of his cityґs past. The merchants would like one of their own countrymen to sing about their town and the minstrel Sadko, who enters at that moment, is asked to oblige. But his song disturbs them: Novgorod is on a lake, he sings, with no access to the ocean. If only their ships could reach the sea they would bring back fortunes from all over the world. The merchants laugh at him and send him on his way, and the feast continues with singing and dancing.

Tableau II. On the shore of Lake Ilmen Sadko sings of his sadness and disillusionment: "Oh, yon dark forest". Sadkoґs song is heard by some young maidens. Amongst them is Volkhova, daughter of the King of the Sea. He sings for them again and they dance. Volkhova tells him that he has won her love. As dawn breaks, they part, but Volkhova tells Sadko that he will catch three golden fish in the lake, that he will make a journey to a foreign land, and that she will faithfully await his return. She returns to the deep and the kingdom of her father. The sun rises.

Tableau III. Sadkoґs wife Lyubava is lamenting her husbandґs absence. Has he gone to seek adventure far away? It was only yesterday that he assured her of his love. Sadko enters and she rejoices, but is broken-hearted when he soon leaves her again, crying out "Farewell!"

Tableau IV. The port of Novgorod on Lake Ilmen. Ships lie peacefully at anchor and the townspeople crowd around the rich foreign merchants who have arrived from every land known to man. Soothsayers ply their trade, Nezhata sings to the accompaniment of his gusli, buffoons sing and dance, and a pilgrimґs chant can be heard. Sadko appears and is greeted with laughter, which increases when he tells them that he has learned a secret: there are golden fish in the lake. He bets his head against the wealth of all assembled at the port that he can prove the truth of his words. A net is set and the song of Volkhova, the Sea Princess, is heard. Sure enough, when the net is pulled in it contains three golden fish. Sadko invites all the adventurous men of the port to join him on his forthcoming journey and they go off to make their preparations.
Nezhata sings of the nightingale which became a great merchant. Sadko returns and announces that he will restore to the merchants their wealth but he intends to keep their ships. He asks three merchants, a Viking, a Venetian and an Indian, to sing of their native lands so that he may decide which he should visit. The Viking sings first: his countryґs shores are rugged, the sea rough, and his countrymen fierce warriors. This slow, pleasant aria is one of the most famous in the Russian bass repertoire. Next comes the Indian merchant. His music and his story are of a much more exotic cast. India is a land of gems and mystery, he sings the stuff of which dreams are made.
The last of the merchants is the Venetian, a baritone, who sings a gondolierґs song or barcarole. Sadko decides that Venice is for him and sets sail, asking the people of Novgorod to take care of his wife.

Tableau V. Sadko is returning home, his ships laden with treasure. But they are becalmed, and Sadko decides that this is because in all the twelve years they have been away, they have never once made a sacrifice to the King of the Sea. The sailors pour treasure over the side into the water, but still there is no wind. At Sadkoґs command, the sailors next throw logs overboard: Sadkoґs sinks and he descends a ladder to the waterґs edge, stepping onto a plank which has been thrown into the water. A breeze picks up immediately and the ship sails away, leaving Sadko abandoned. A mist settles.

Tableau VI. When the mist clears we find ourselves at the bottom of the sea, at the court of the King of the Sea. The king and queen are seated on their thrones while Volkhova, their daughter, sits spinning seaweed. Sadko sings for the king and queen and is promised Volkhovaґs hand in marriage. The wedding guests arrive – every denizen of the deep seems to have been invited – and the marriage is celebrated in a fitting manner. There are dances and Sadko sings again, arousing such enthusiasm that the listeners join in the dance. As their movements become faster and faster, the waves lash into a fury and ships sink down into the deep. An apparition then warns them that the reign of the King of the Sea is at an end and seagulls draw Sadko and Volkhova away in a shell.

Tableau VII. Morning. Sadko is asleep on the shore of Lake Ilmen, watched over by Princess Volkhova, who sings a lullaby. She bids a last farewell to the still-sleeping minstrel and then vanishes in the mist, turning into the great River Volkhov, which flows from Lake Ilmen to sea.
Lyubava is distractedly searching for her husband. When she sees him asleep on the shore of the lake she is filled with delight. Sadko awakes. He thinks he has been asleep since he last parted with her, that his voyage was only a dream. But the sight of his fleet sailing up the new river from the sea tells him that it was all real, and that he is now the richest man in Novgorod. He is welcomed by the citizens of the town, among them the three merchants who sang for him before he set out on his long journey.

Schedule for Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov "Sadko" (opera-bylina in seven scenes) 2022

Rimsky-Korsakov - opera "Sadko" - Mariinsky Theatre - Lutsyuk/Solovyova - Mikhail Sinkevich
About This Video
Opera-bylina in seven scenes (Excerpts from 1° act)
Maslenitsa (Shrovetide) festival
Conductor: Mikhail Sinkevich
Sadko: Viktor Lutsyuk
Lyubava: Varvara Solovyova
Nezhata: Yekaterina Krapivina
A Viking Merchant: Sergei Aleksashkin
A Hindu Merchant: Dmitry Voropaev
A Venetian Merchant: Alexander Gergalov
The King of the Ocean: Gennady Bezzubenkov
Volkhova: Zhanna Dombrovskaya
Duda: Fyodor Kuznetsov
Sopel: Andrei Zorin
Saint Petersburg, Russia
Feb 2014

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