Ruslan and Lyudmila

Credits  
Valery Borisov, Chorus Master
Helen Zaytseva, Costume Designer
Elena Zaitseva, Costume Designer
Yelena Zaytseva, Costume Designer
Gleb Filshtinsky, Lighting Designer
Gleb Filshtinskiy, Lighting Designer
Vladimir Jurowski, Musical Director
Dmitriy Chernyakov, Set Designer
Dmitri Tcherniakov, Stage Director
Premiere of this production: 02 Nov 2011

Running time: 4 hours 20 minutes

Libretto by Valerian Shirkov and Mikhail Glinka with the participation of Konstantin Bakhturin, Nestor Kukolnik, Mikhail Gedeonov and Nikolai Markevich after the poem of the same name by Alexander Pushkin

 

Bolshoi Theatre presents first première on its refurbished Main Stage

 

Ruslan and Lyudmila will be the first première to take place on the refurbished, historic Bolshoi Theatre Main Stage. And this outstanding opera with its truly epic scale is ideally suited to the opening of the Theatre. One of the high points in the Russian operatic repertoire, it is an integral part of Bolshoi Theatre history. On the Theatre’s Main stage there have been over 700 performances in 9 different productions (not counting revivals!) of this opera. Its Bolshoi Theatre debut was 165 years ago. Members of the Ruslan and Lyudmila production teams have included the following illustrious figures — director Boris Pokrovsky, conductors Vyacheslav Suk, Nikolai Golovanov, Alexander Melik-Pashaev, scenographers Konstantin Korovin, Alexander Golovin, Vladimir Dmitriev...

And today this list is continued by Bolshoi guest conductor in residence Vladimir Yurovsky and director and scenographer Dmitri Tcherniakov.

The new production promises to live up to the historic occasion which will precede it — the ceremonial opening of the Bolshoi Theatre Main Stage.

It ‘records’, as it were, former productions of Ruslan and Lyudmila at the Bolshoi. But at its core is an absolutely authentic psychological account of the ordeal of love, and of faithfulness and strength of spirit. The spectator will find not one enigmatic twist, attributable solely to magic, in the storyline. At one and the same time, Tcherniakov steeps the opera in the space of its myth and frees it of its shackles, presenting the story in an exceptionally lively and ‘true-to-life’ way.

In so far as concerns the scenography, designer Tcherniakov remains true to himself too: his sets are maximally functional, serving in the first instance his staging concepts.

Maestro Vladimir Yurovsky, together with his assistants Ralf Sochaczewsky and Alexei Bogorad, is responsible for the musical side of the production. The opera which, as is well known, is fairly lengthy, will be presented in slightly cut form by comparison to the original score (and this has been a tradition ever since its first staging), but the musical structure will in no way suffer: all the musical numbers are preserved, the cuts being limited to repeats of music within the form.

When it comes to interpreters, this opera has always been lucky at the Bolshoi. Here is a list of some of the stars who have appeared in it: Stepan Trezvinsky, Georgy Baklanov, Leonid Sobinov, Elena Stepanova, Mark Reyzen, Bronislava Zlatogorova, Ksenia Derzhinskaya Maxim Mikhailov, Nikandr Khanayev, Valeria Barsova, Irina Maslennikova, Ivan Petrov, Elizaveta Antonova, Sergei Lemeshev, Evgeny Nesterenko, Bela Rudenko, Tamara Sinyavskaya, Alexei Maslennikov, Artur Eizen. And among those who participated in the dance scenes are: Marina Semenova, Vera Vasileva, Maya Plisetskaya, Evgeniya Farmanyants, Lyudmila Cherkasova, Rimma Karelskaya...

The title roles in the present-day cast will be sung by: Bolshoi Young Opera Program graduate and today soloist with the Opera Company Ulyana Aleksyuk and Albina Shagimuratova, a young singer who has already left her mark on the world opera stage; and Mariinsky Theatre soloist Mikhail Petrenko and Helikon-Opera soloist Alexei Tikhomirov, who have likewise garnered for themselves a successful international career; Finn will be sung by the American Charles Workman; Finn’s eternal antagonist Naina will be performed by Elena Zaremba. The part of Ratmir will be interpreted by two marvelous counter-tenors — Yury Minenko and Vladimir Magomadov, while the Bulgarian singer Alexandrina Pendachanska and Bolshoi guest soloist Veronika Dzhioeva will sing the part of Gorislava. Mariinsky Theatre soloist Vladimir Ognovenko and former Bolshoi soloist Gleb Nikolsky will sing Svetozar, and the Lithuanian singer Almas Shvilpa and Mariinsky Theatre soloist Alexei Tanovitsky — Farlaf.

Synopsis

ACT ONE


Svetozar is holding a sumptuous wedding feast for his favorite daughter Lyudmila and her Chosen One, Ruslan.
Also invited to the feast are the suitors whom Lyudmila has rejected – Farlaf and Ratmir.
Svetozar approves of his daughter’s choice, and Bayan’s wedding song predicts that the young couple are in for a hard time.
At the height of the festivities, all realize that the bride has vanished.
In despair, Svetozar promises his daughter’s hand to the man who brings her back.
Ruslan, Ratmir and Farlaf set off in search of Lyudmila.

Finn who all his life has loved just one woman, Naina, in his attempts to win her love even resorting to magic, eventually discovers at the end of his life that his beautiful and inapproachable Naina is now consumed by hatred for him and wants to take her revenge. She has been unable to love him. And even now, after a long life lived, they continue to bicker and sort out their relationship: Finn maintaining that his love for Naina has been the meaning of his whole life, Naina arguing that love does not exist. In search of proof with which to back up their arguments, they interfere in the fate of the happy couple Ruslan and Lyudmila, forcing them to undergo a whole series of tormenting trials. These trials have begun – Lyudmila has been abducted.

In his search for the abducted Lyudmila, Ruslan meets Finn who tells him of his unhappy love for Naina.
Shocked by Finn’s tragic fate, Ruslan learns from the latter the name of the person who has absconded with Lyudmila – it is the mighty Chernomor.
As they part, Finn warns Ruslan of the danger which might originate from Naina, and urges him to fight for his love.

In the meantime, Naina has promised Farlaf her protection in his search for Lyudmila and battle with Ruslan. Farlaf rejoices at the prospect of a speedy and easy victory.

His search for the lost Lyudmila, brings Ruslan to a sinister spot, which is strewn with human bones. Ruslan is horrified.
A huge head, one of Chernomor’s victims, threatens and mocks Ruslan who, getting the better of his fear, finds the strength within himself to soldier on and continue the fight.

ACT TWO


Naina is waiting for Ruslan to show up. She gathers together seductive and pretty girls, who are to lure and entice traveler Ruslan and deprive him of his willpower.
Ratmir is also here. Suddenly the latter comes across his rejected and forgotten love, Gorislava. Gorislava had spent a long time seeking for her lost Ratmir and this sudden meeting awakens her former sentiments for him. Ratmir is irritated and embarrassed.
The maidens greet Ruslan as a long awaited guest. They comfort him, entertain him, tempt him.
Ruslan is touched by the tears and sufferings of the rejected Gorislava. He first sympathizes with her plight and is then overcome with desire for her.
Only a bit of sharp action from the suddenly appearing Finn saves everyone from committing fatal mistakes.

ACT THREE


In the meantime, Lyudmila is under lock and key in enchanted surroundings, apparently created for her by a certain Chernomor who is in love with her. Ever since she has been abducted, she has undergone trial after trial, the aim being to get her to give up her love for Ruslan.
Lyudmila is deeply unhappy and even attempts to commit suicide.
Ruslan, Ratmir and Gorislava discover where Lyudmila is being kept prisoner. They break into the ‘prison’ in search of the abducted Lyudmila. Victory is close at hand.
Overcoming fierce resistance, Ruslan finds Lyudmila but her appearance and condition horrify him. She does not recognize Ruslan, does not react to anything and cannot move. The awful state Lyudmila is in does not repel Ruslan, on the contrary, he begins to love her even more.
In despair, Ruslan tries to bring her back to consciousness. His attempts are unsuccessful and he decides to take Lyudmila home.

With Naina’s help, Farlaf kidnaps Lyudmila so as to later act the role of rescuer and return her to Svetozar.
Ruslan sets off in pursuit of his again lost bride. Ratmir and Gorislava are at a loss to know what to do and put all their hopes on assistance from Finn.
Finn is crushed by the goings on. He feels guilty because the plot thought up by himself and Naina, has got out of control and now lives are even at danger. He decides to interfere in the situation and help save Lyudmila.

Farlaf takes the unconscious Lyudmila home. Svetozar tries to revive her. But in vain.
Only the suddenly appearing Finn manages to find a way of bringing Lyudmila back to life. Ruslan, Ratmir and Gorislava come running in and witness Lyudmila’s awakening.
Ruslan and Lyudmila are happy, they are back together again.
A stung to the quick and furious Naina leaves Svetozar’s house. In her argument with Finn, she is the loser.


Main Stage 1 Teatralnaya ploschad (1 Theatre Square), Moscow, Russia
New Stage 4/2 Teatralnaya ploschad (4/2 Theatre Square), Moscow, Russia
 
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