Ivan the Terrible
19 Jun - 14 Jul 2021
David Pountney directs a new production of one of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s hidden gems: the composer’s first opera, Ivan the Terrible – also known as The Maid of Pskov.
The tyrannical Tsar, Ivan IV, sweeps through the city of Novgorod, on a wholesale pillage. In the picturesque town of Pskov, Ivan billets himself at the house sees a beautiful young woman. Something stays his hand and the city is spared. Could it be because he has discovered his long-lost love child, Olga?
With its expansive music, dramatic plot and vivid crowd scenes, Ivan the Terrible is a spectacle.
The exciting cast includes Evelina Dobracheva as Princess Olga, Liubov Sokolova as Vlasyevna, Carl Tanner as Tucha, and Clive Bayley as Ivan the Terrible.
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
UK premiere: 19 June 2021
In the prologue, “The Boyarin Vera Sheloga”, Vera confesses to her sister Nadescha that her daughter Olga is the result of an affair with a mysterious stranger while her husband, Prince Tomakov, 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 25 years later. Olga is now a young woman and in love with the rash and impassioned partisan Michael Tucha, but has been promised by her father, Prince Tomakov, to an older Boyar.
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. Tomakov tries to persuade the people of Pskov to welcome Tsar Ivan, but Tucha resolves to continue to fight for independence.
When Ivan arrives, Olga is given the responsibility of serving him at table, and miraculously his anger melts away and he forgives the city.
Olga and Tucha meet secretly in the forest, but are discovered and arrested. Olga is brought before Ivan, but he rebukes his captor. His heart is touched by Olga, and he realises that she is his daughter.
Tucha escapes from arrest and mounts an attack on Ivan’s encampment. In the confusion, Olga is shot.