Ivan the Terrible
The opera will end at 9.50 (Sundays half an hour earlier)
The 2021 season’s most spectacular opera is not a blood and guts depiction of Tsarist terror but, at its heart is a tender story of the all-powerful ruler re-discovering his long-lost illegitimate daughter. What we see on-stage is Ivan described in the most tender terms as a passionate lover in the Prologue, and then in its final scene as an emotional father with his daughter.
Opera giant David Pountney directs a truly international cast including Mariinsky conductor Tatarnikov.
Ivan the Terrible is a spectacle, a hidden gem, with expansive music, passionate plot and vivid crowd scenes.
An opera in four acts
Sung in Russian with surtitles in English
Music: Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Libretto: Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
First performance: 1873 Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg
David & Amanda Leathers
François Freyeisen & Shunichi Kubo
VERA SHELOGA, Olga’s mother ∙ EVELINA DOBRACHEVA
IVAN SHELOGA, her husband ∙ JOHN IEUAN JONES
NADEZHDA, Vera’s sister ∙ AMY KERENZA SEDGWICK
PRINCE TOKMAKOV, Nadezhda’s husband ∙ DAVID SHIPLEY
VLASYEVNA, Olga’s nurse ∙ LIUBOV SOKOLOVA
OLGA ∙ EVELINA DOBRACHEVA
TUCHA, leader of a partisan group of rebels against Tsar Ivan ∙ CARL TANNER
PRINCE TOKMAKOV, the Mayor of Pskov and supposedly Olga’s father ∙ DAVID SHIPLEY
BOYAR NIKITA MATUTA, an elderly aristocrat promised to Olga by her father ∙ ADRIAN THOMPSON
VLASYEVNA, Olga’s nurse ∙ LIUBOV SOKOLOVA
PERFILYEVNA, a nurse ∙AMY KERENZA SEDGWICK
STEPANIDA MATUTA, Olga’s friend ∙ ROSIE ROWELL
TSAR IVAN THE TERRIBLE ∙ CLIVE BAYLEY
BOMELY, the Tsar’s physician ∙JOHN IEUAN JONES
PRINCE AFANASY VYAZEMSKY, a courtier ∙ PHIL WILCOX
YUSHKO VELEBIN, a messenger from Novgorod ∙ COLIN MURRAY
A SENTRY ∙ MARK BONNEY
The evening begins with a Prologue, which tells the story of a secret passion. The main opera is set 20 years later. Attempting to unify Russia, Tsar Ivan “The Terrible” is re-asserting his authority over rebellious regions. He has recently brutally subjugated and destroyed nearby Novgorod, just 200 versts from Pskov. The city of Pskov fears a similar fate. But when Ivan comes to subdue Pskov, he encounters intimate and familial issues that precede his political objectives.
The Prologue Boyarin Vera Sheloga
Vera confesses to her sister Nadezhda that her daughter Olga is the result of an affair with a mysterious stranger while her husband, Ivan Sheloga, was away fighting for Tsar Ivan. When her husband unexpectedly returns, Nadescha saves the situation by pretending Olga is her child.
The main action takes place 20 years later. In the meantime Nadezhda married the Prince Tokmakov, but both Vera and Nadezhda died young. Tomakov has brought Olga up as his own daughter.
Act 1 Scene 1 Pskov
Olga is now a young woman and in love with the rash and impassioned partisan Mikhail Tucha. Her supposed father, Prince Tokmakov, has promised her to an older Boyar, Matuta. Tucha and Olga’s impassioned love duet is interrupted when her “father” and Matuta arrive. Olga hides and Olga overhears Tokmakov admitting to Matuta that Olga is not in fact his daughter, and that her real father is unknown.
News reaches Pskov that Ivan the Terrible is on a campaign to re-assert his authority over regions attempting independence and has recently brutally subjugated and destroyed the city of Novgorod. Pskov fears its turn will be next. Tokmakov tries to persuade the people to welcome Tsar Ivan, but Tucha resolves to continue to fight for independence.
Olga is confused by the discovery of her doubtful paternity. The terrified people greet Ivan with the traditional gifts of bread and salt, and Olga is given the responsibility of serving his wine. It is soon apparent that there is a mysterious chemistry between them. Ivan questions Tokmakov about the sisters Vera and Nadezda, and when he realises that Olga is Vera’s daughter, he also understands that he is her father. His anger melts away and he forgives the city.
Olga and Tucha meet secretly in the forest, but Matuta, furious that his marriage with Olga has been prevented, surprises them with an armed force. They leave Tucha for dead and abduct Olga. Olga is brought before Ivan, but he rebukes her captor. His heart is touched by Olga and her memory as a child of praying for the Tsar. Father and daughter forge an emotional bond. Meanwhile, Tucha has survived and now mounts an attack on Ivan’s encampment. Olga begs Ivan to show mercy towards him, but in the confusion of the attack, she is shot.