This Blog is also available as an RSS Feed


Catherine the Great: Opera Librettist

Catherine the Great reigned as Empress of Russia from July 1762 through to 17 November 1796. She took up this position of power upon the assassination of her husband Peter III and it soon became clear that she was a capable and progressive ruler. She continued to expand the Russian Empire, ensuring that her country kept in step with the modernization of Western Europe to the extent that Russia was recognized as one of Europe’s great powers during her reign. She promoted foreign policy that benefited Russia, but did not shy away from taking harsh and decisive action against rebellion and to protect her country’s interests.

While her prowess as a ruler is legendary in Russian history, an aspect of Catherine the Great's personality which is maybe less well known, was her tremendous love of the arts, music and theater, as well as her passion for opera. In fact, Catherine II was an opera librettist, creating the text for nine operas, fourteen comedies, seven short plays, and an assortment of dramatic writings. Talented Russian and foreign composers were commissioned to compose the music for her written works.

Her figurative fairy tale, The Story of Tsarevich Fevey was set to music by the Russian composer Vasili Pashkevich, with the premiere taking place at the luxurious Hermitage Theater in St Petersburg on 30 April 1786. The opera received critical acclaim and was a driving force behind the rise in popularity of Russian fairytale operas into the 19th century. Later that same year, Catherine the Great's libretto by the title of The Novgorod Hero Boyeslayevich, set to music by Yevstigney Fomin, was also staged in St Petersburg.

Other works of Catherine the Great that were performed at the Hermitage Theater in St Petersburg included Fuflych-Bogatyr, a parody on her cousin, the King of Sweden Gustav III, set to music by Spanish-born Vicente Martin y Soler; and Fedul det'mi composed as a joint collaboration by Vasily Pashkevich and Martin y Soler.

Visitors to St Petersburg today can visit the Hermitage Theater which forms part of the State Hermitage Museum of art and culture, and imagine a time when the words of Catherine the Great resounded through the richly embellished interior of the theater built to promote the opera she loved.


User Comments & Reviews: 0 Comment(s)

Combine Flights?

New Business Users, read more and join on the Business Affiliates page.

New Individual Users, join on the Forum Users Registration page.