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Pearls of Music Theater

The program broadcasts the best performances of famous operas, ballets, musicals, and operettas, presenting their plots and the history of their creation.

Before each act, the corresponding part of libretto is read, which makes the listening experience more vivid and comprehensible.

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06 December Camille Saint-Saëns, Samson and Delilah

The opera "Samson and Delilah" is based on the well-known biblical story about Samson and Delilah. The author of the libretto is Ferdinand Lemaire. The opera was premiered in German, under the direction of Franz Liszt, in Weimar, 1877.

 

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29 November Pietro Mascagni, Cavalleria Rusticana

The French composer Mascagni wrote the opera "Cavalleria Rusticana" for the competition of one-act operas organized in Milan by the publisher Edoardo Sonzogno in 1888.
Learning about the competition very late, Mascagni turned for help to his friend, poet Giovanni Targioni-Tozzetti who decided to borrow the plot of the libretto from a novel by Giovanni Verga. Guido Menasci also participated in the reworking of the plot. In March 1890, the decision of the jury was announced, according to which the winners were Niccola Spinelli's "Labilia," Vincenzo Ferroni's  "Rudello," and Mascagni's "Cavalleria Rusticana."
The opera was premiered in Rome on May 17, 1890, and was a great success.

 

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22 November Gioachino Rossini, Cinderella

The broadcast presents Rossini's opera Cinderella, or Goodness Triumphant created on the basis of the fairy-tale Cinderella that is well known among both children and adults. The Italian libretto of the opera was written by Jacopo Ferretti. In the first part of the broadcast, you can listen to the first part of the first act of the opera.

 

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15 November Gaetano Donizetti, Dom Sébastien

This episode presents Gaetano Donizetti's Opera Dom Sébastien. This is the last opera of the composer.  Its libretto was written by the famous French playwright  Eugène Scribe, based on the drama of the same name by Paul-Henri Foucher. It was premiered at the Paris Opera on November 13, 1843.

 

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08 November Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Idomeneo, King of Crete, or, Ilia and Idamante

This opera was composed by commission of the Bavarian and Palatinate elector Karl Theodor. The myth of Idomeneo had already been used in musical theater. In 1712, a five-act opera by the famous composer André Campra was presented in Paris that was written to the libretto of poet and playwright Antoine Danchet, an author of 12 tragedies and librettos, mainly on classical subjects. His "Idomeneo" is full of tragic events and ends in a bloody denouement. The Abbot Giambattista Varesco, chaplain of the Archbishop of Salzburg, translated the text of this libretto into Italian and adapted it to the specifics of the opera seria. He changed the five acts into three acts and the bloody denouement into a happy one.
The opera was premiered on January 29, 1781, at the National Theater of Munich.

The opera consists of three acts, which are presented in the three parts of our broadcast, respectively.

 

 

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01 November Jean-Philippe Rameau, Hippolyte et Aricie

French composer Jean-Philippe Rameau's opera "Hippolyte et Aricie" is based on Jean Racine's tragedy "Phaedra." No later than December 1732, Rameau's patron Alexandre Le Riche de La Poupelinière introduced Rameau to Abbé Simon-Joseph Pellegrin. The latter agreed to write the libretto for the opera.
The opera premiered on October 1, 1733, at the Royal Academy of Music in Paris (now Paris National Opera Theater).
The opera consists of five acts, which are presented in the five parts of the broadcast, respectively.

 

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25 October Mozart, The Marriage of Figaro

The plot of the comic opera The Marriage of Figaro by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is created on the basis of a "scandalous comedy" by Pierre Beaumarchais that was banned by Austrian Emperor Joseph II because of its anti-feudal freethinking. The opera written by Mozart in a few months was the first attempt of joint work of the composer with the author of the libretto Lorenzo Da Ponte; next were the operas Don Giovanni and Thus Do They All.
The opera premiered in Italian on May 1, 1786, at the Burgtheater, Vienna.

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18 October Francesco Cilea, Adriana Lecouvreur

In April 1849, the five-act drama by Eugène Scribe and Ernest Legouvé "Adrienne Lecouvreur" was staged with triumphant success in Paris. Based on this play, Arturo Colautti wrote a libretto for the opera of the same name.
The heroine of the opera is a historical character, an actress of the French Comedy Teather, Adriana Lecouvreur, famous for her roles in Racine's tragedies.
The opera was premiered at Milan's Teatro Lirico on November 6, 1902.

The opera consists of four acts, which are presented in the four parts of our broadcast respectively.

 

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11 October George Frederick Handel, Ariodante

It is not known who wrote the Italian libretto of this оpera; it is known only that it was based on a work by Antonio Salvi, which in turn is based on the heroic poem of Ludovico Ariosto "Orlando Furioso."
Handel wrote about 40 operas during 36 years, starting with "Almira" and ending with "Deidamia."
Opera Ariodante was first staged in London, in the Covent Garden theater, on  January 8, 1735. It was performed only 11 times. The lead singer was the then-famous castrato Giovanni Carestini.
Like other operas of Handel, Ariodante also had been forgotten for more than 200 years until it was staged again in 1971.

The opera consists of three acts, which are presented in the three parts of the broadcast respectively.

 

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04 October Domenico Cimarosa, The Secret Marriage

The plot of the "Secret Marriage" is borrowed from two plays. One of them, "The Clandestine Marriage," belongs to two famous English authors: George Colman the Elder and David Garrick. The other play is "Sophie, or Hidden Marriage" by French actress and novelist Marie-Jeanne Riccoboni. The libretto was written by Giovanni Bertati.
The premiere of the opera took place on February 7, 1792, in the Vienna Burgtheater and was an exceptional success. Emperor Leopold II liked it so much that he demanded its immediate repetition. After a dinner, the singers repeated the performance specially for the Emperor and courtiers.

The opera consists of two acts, which are presented in thw two parts of our broadcast, respectively.

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27 September Sergei Rachmaninoff, Francesca da Rimini

This opera consists of one act, a prologue, and an epilogue. 
The plot is based on the Fifth Canto of Dante Alighieri's "The Inferno" in "Divine Comedy." The author of the libretto is Modest Tchaikovsky. Despite its beautiful music, the opera didn't become part of repertoires after its premiere in 1906. It was staged anew by conductor Mark Ermler at Moskow Bolshoi Theater in 1973.

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20 September Antonín Leopold Dvořák, Opera Rusalka

The Czech poet, dramatist and theater figure Jaroslav Kvapil created the libretto of "Rusalka" on the basis of fairy tales by Karel Jaromír Erben and Božena Němcová. This story of all-conquering love immediately attracted the attention of the Czech composer Dvořák, and already on 31 March, 1901, the Opera "Rusalka" was presented to the audience.

The Opera consists of three acts, which are presented in the three parts of the broadcast respectively.

 

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13 September Ludwig Minkus, La Bayadère (ballet)

In 1876, Marius Petipa was attracted by the idea of the ballet "La Bayadère." Sergei Khudekov developed the plot based on "Shakuntala, or The Sign of Shakuntala" by the ancient Indian poet Kalidasa.  However, the original source of Petipa's ballet wasn't this ancient drama, but the French ballet "Shakuntala" by T. Gauthier.
The Austrian composer Ludwig Minkus's ballet "La Bayadère" was premiered on February 4, 1877, at the Bolshoi Theater in St. Petersburg. Then the play disappeared from the repertoire for more than a decade. In 1941, a great expert on the classical heritage, Vladimir Ponomarev, and the young choreographer Vakhtang Chabukiani jointly created a three-act version of the old play. In 1948, this version was replenished and since then has not descended from theater stage.

The ballet consists of three acts, which are presented in the three parts of our broadcast, respectively.

 

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06 September Ludwig van Beethoven, "Fidelio"

"Fidelio" is the only complete opera of Beethoven. The plot is based on a real story about a political prisoner whose wife selflessly saved her husband from a certain death. The dramatic nature of the opera, its moral pathos, heroism, glorification of the purity and strength of marital love, the desire to fight against totalitarianism were close to Beethoven's ideas.

  • The first part of the broadcast presents Act I of the opera, and the second part, Act II.
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30 August Georges Bizet, The Pearl Fishers

The authors of the libretto of the opera "The Pearl Fishers" ("Les pêcheurs de perles") are Eugène Cormon and Michel Carré. It was premiered on September 30, 1863, at the Paris Lyric Theater. Bizet, who had not yet reached the age of 25, was welcomed by the audience who, in addition to singers, also demanded the composer.
 The opera consists of three acts, which are presented in the three parts of the broadcast, respectively.

 

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23 August Antonio Vivaldi, Oracle in Messenia

Libretto of the Opera "Oracle in Messenia" was written by the Italian poet Apostolo Zeno. In 1738, the opera was a great success in Venice. Thanks to the perseverance of Vivaldi's friends, in 1742, the opera was also premiered in Vienna.
This work previously considered lost has been recovered on the basis of the libretto of the Vienna premiere, which has been recently found in the Library of Congress in Washington. This important and difficult task has been successfully carried out by violinist and conductor Fabio Biondi who has used the technique of "pasticcio" in reconstructing the lost passages of the original opera.

The opera consists of three acts, which are presented in the three parts of our broadcast, respectively.

 

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16 August Franz Lehar, The Merry Widow

The libretto of the operetta "The Merry Widow" is based on Henri Meilhac's comedy "The Embassy Attaché" and is authored by Viktor Léon  and Leo Stein.
The operetta was first staged at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna on December 30, 1905. The success was tremendous. The audience constantly called the artists back for an encore, demanding a repetition of certain parts, and the operetta ended with a huge ovation.
"The Merry widow" is deservedly called the Queen of Operettas. Its witty libretto and Lehar's beautiful music have made it very popular. In different countries, various films have been created based on its plot.

The operetta consists of three acts, which are presented in the three parts of the broadcast, respectively.

 

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09 August Gaspare Spontini, La Vestale

The libretto of this opera was written by Victor Étienne de Jouy and Michel Dieulafoy.
The opera was premiered on December 15, 1807, at the Paris National Opera in the presence of Empress Josephine. Despite the tendency to get rid of Italian influence in French music, the audience immediately appreciated this opera as a masterpiece.
The opera consists of three acts, which are presented in the three parts of our broadcast, respectively.

 

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26 July Jules Massenet, Don Quichotte

The source of inspiration for the French composer Massenet  to write this opera was not the famous novel by Miguel de Cervantes but the play "The Knight of the Long Figure" by his contemporary French writer Jacques Le Lorrain. The libretto for the opera was written by Henri Caïn with whom Massenet had been collaborating since 1894.
Massenet wrote the part for Don Quichotte especially for the Russian famous opera singer Feodor Chaliapin.
The opera was premiered on February 19, 1910, in Monte Carlo. 

It consists of five acts, which are presented in five parts of the broadcast respectively.

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19 July Alexey Verstovsky, Askold's Grave

The author of the libretto of this opera is well-known Russian writer and playwright Mikhail Zagoskin. His novel "Askold's Grave" that was published in 1833 received appreciation by neither critics nor readers. However, two years later, in 1825, Alexey Verstovsky decided to write an opera based on this novel.
The opera was premiered on September 15, 1836. The audience highly appreciated it. The opera was presented  in Moscow Bolshoy Theater over 400 times in 25 years, and until 1887, it was in the permanent repertoire of the Theater.

The opera consists of four acts, which are presented in the four parts of our broadcast, respectively.

 

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12 July Franz Peter Schubert, Fierrabras

In 1822, the management of the Vienna Royal Opera House commissioned Franz Schubert to write an opera. Schubert chose a libretto by Joseph Kupelwieser that was based on sayings about Charlemagne, the king of the Franks, and the Moorish knight Fierrabras. But the management of the theater abandoned its decision to stage this opera by Schubert.
The composer never saw this opera staged; he wasn't even paid for his work. Seven years after his death, on May 7, 1835, the opera was presented at Vienna's Theater in der Josefstadt in a shortened concert version. In 1897, Austrian conductor and composer Felix Mottl staged his version of the opera at the Baden State Theater; he had added ballet parts from other works of Schubert and had also used some parts from works by other composers. The Mottl version was performed for a long time in opera houses. The authentic and full version of the opera was first presented at the Vienna State Opera in 1988 under the direction of conductor Claudio Abbado.

The opera consists of three acts, which are presented in the three parts of the broadcast respectively. 

 

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05 July Carl Maria von Weber, The Freeshooter

The Opera "The Freeshooter" ("Der Freischütz") is considered the first truly romantic German opera. The work is based on an ancient legend, common among Germans and Czechs, about a young hunter, but the ending of the libretto is different from that of the legend. The author of the libretto, Johann Friedrich Kind, changed it so that in the struggle of good and evil, good wins and everything ends happily for the heroes.
Carl Maria von Weber wrote this opera during the rise of the national liberation struggle and justified the expectations of the audience of Democrats. This opera was assessed not only as a brilliant phenomenon of arts, but also as a strong patriotic work. 

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28 June Mikhail Glinka, Ruslan and Lyudmila

Glinka had the idea of creating the opera "Ruslan and Lyudmila" still at the time of Pushkin. The composer wanted to create it on a libretto by Alexander Pushkin, but because of the sudden death of the poet he was forced to turn to his friends: he wrote the libretto with the help of Valerian Shirkov, Constantine Bahturin, Nestor Kukolnik, and others.
In this work, Glinka instilled the images with epic breath, developed the content of the opera, and created new types of operatic drama that are based on the development of symphonism, the clash and juxtaposition of opposite characters, and sequence of separate complete episodes.

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21 June Imre Kalman, Die Csárdásfürstin (The Csárdás Princess)

The libretto of this operetta was written by the Austrian playwright Leo Stein and and librettist Bela Jenbach. Kalman conceived the idea of creating an operetta dedicated to the variety star Sylva Varescu in the beginning of 1914. The German libretto was called "Long live love."
The operetta was completed by November 1915, and its premiere took place on November 17 at the Johann Strauss Theater in Vienna.
The first staging of the operetta in Russia was in the midst of the World War I (1916), so both the title of the operetta and many of the names of the characters were changed. Since then, the Soviet and Russian audience have known this operetta as "Silva."

The operetta consists of three acts, which are presented in the three parts of our broadcast, respectively.

 

 

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