Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov – Tale of Tsar Saltan (Flight of the Bumblebee)
The Tale of Tsar Saltan (Russian: Сказка о царе Салтане, Skazka o Tsare Saltane) is an opera in four acts with a prologue (a total of seven scenes) by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. The libretto was written by Vladimir Belsky, and is based on the poem of the same name by Aleksandr Pushkin. The opera was composed in 1899–1900 to coincide with Pushkin’s centenary, and was first performed in 1900 in Moscow, Russia.
The lengthy full title of both the opera and the poem is The Tale of Tsar Saltan, of his Son the Renowned and Mighty Bogatyr Prince Gvidon Saltanovich and of the Beautiful Princess-Swan (Russian: Сказка о царе Салтане, о сыне его славном и могучем богатыре князе Гвидоне Салтановиче и о прекрасной царевне Лебеди Skazka o tsare Saltane, o syne yego slavnom i moguchem bogatyre knyaze Gvidone Saltanoviche i o prekrasnoy tsarevne Lebedi).
The plot of the opera generally follows that of Pushkin’s fairy-tale poem, with the addition of some characters, some expansion (particularly for Act 1), and some compression (mostly by reducing Gvidon’s three separate trips to one). The libretto by Belsky borrows many lines from and largely emulates the style of Pushkin’s poem, which is written in couplets of trochaic tetrameter. The music is composed in the manner of Rimsky-Korsakov’s operas after Snowmaiden, i.e., having a more or less continuous musical texture throughout a tableau system, broken up here and there by song-like passages.
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