Libretto by Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov after the play by Alexander Ostrovsky
Musical Director and Conductor: Dmitri Jurowski
Assistant to Conductor: Igor Tomashevsky
Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Chorus: Vladimir Stolpovskikh
Chorus Masters: Alexey Dmitriev, Sergey Tsyplenkov
Principal Pianist: Alexander Pakuev
Director: Yulia Prokhorova
Stage Design: Vyacheslav Okunev
Lighting: Alexander Kibitkin
Choreography: Maria Bolshakova
Stage Manager: Olga Kokh
The Snow Maiden
concert performance of the opera in three acts
music by Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov
The Mikhailovsky Theatre is continuing its tradition of concert performances of opera classics. This season, Rimsky-Korsakov’s much-loved Snow Maiden will take the stage. The opera was first performed here is 1928, and today, the masterpiece’s return to the repertoire is a major event for the theatre. In this poetic legend of the beautiful Snow Maiden, the passionate Mizgir, the romantic Lel, and the wise Tsar Berendey, the composer reflects on the grand transformative power of love and art in a story where the real and fantasy worlds intertwine.
The magic land of the Berendeyans. Moonlit night. The forest sleeps under the snow; cold embraces the land. Spring appears. Fifteen years ago, she fell in love with Frost and gave birth to a daughter — the Snow Maiden. Since then, the infuriated Yarilo the Sun has tormented the land with bitter winters and cold springs.
Frost enters. At the sunrise, he must leave the land for the Northern countries and is worried about his daughter: Yarilo the Sun intends to kill the Snow Maiden by filling her heart with the fire of love. Frost decides to entrust her to Bakula, a childless settler of the sloboda. The Snow Maiden is delighted: for a long time, she has been attracted by the world of human beings and enchanted by the songs of the shepherd Lel. Frost and Spring ask the Wood Spirit to look after the Snow Maiden.
The Berendeyans arrive. They bid farewell to winter, celebrating the end of Maslenitsa. Bakula notices the Snow Maiden and is glad to accept her into his family.
Lel sings for the Snow Maiden but other girls distract him: he drops the flower given by the Snow Maiden and runs away. The Snow Maiden is frustrated. She feels like she is too cold to inflame Lel. The beautiful Kupava sympathizes for the Snow Maiden but cannot wait to share her own joy: her fiancé Mizgir comes to the sloboda today.
Young men and women gather around. In line with custom, Mizgir ransoms his bride with expensive presents. Suddenly his gaze falls upon the Snow Maiden. Staggered by her beauty, Mizgir turns from Kupava and begs the Snow Maiden to return his love. Kupava feels humiliated. The people condemn Mizgir and advise Kupava to seek justice from the wise Tsar Berendey.
Tsar Berendey is ill at ease, sensing disfavour of Yarilo: every year summer gets shorter and spring becomes colder. To win back Yarilo´s favour, the tsar decides to celebrate Yarilo’s Day by wedding all the young couples in his land.
Kupava runs in. She begs Berendey to punish Mizgir for betraying and humiliating her. Berendey is enraged. He orders to find Mizgir and summon people for the royal court. The tsar insists that Mizgir marry Kupava, but Mizgir rejects her: he is in love with the Snow Maiden. Berendey sentences Mizgir to eternal banishment.
The Snow Maiden appears. The tsar is entranced by her beauty. He learns that the Snow Maiden is not able to love: now he thinks that it is the reason of Yarilo’s wrath. The tsar announces that the one who wins the Snow Maiden’s love by the dawn will be her betrothed. Mizgir asks to respite his sentence swearing to raise the fire of passion in the cold heart of the Snow Maiden.
The young men and women sing and dance. Deeply moved by Lel´s singing, the tsar suggests he choose a girl to be his wife. Lel selects Kupava. In tears, the Snow Maiden flees to the forest. Mizgir wants to follow her, but the Wood Spirit stops him and drives him away.
Lel and Kupava appear. They declare their love to each other; they are waiting for Yarilo´s Day. The Snow Maiden looks at them. In despair, she asks Mother Spring to make her heart warm.
Spring gives to the Snow Maiden a garland of magic flowers: now she is able to love. Spring warns her of Yarilo´s fiery eyes.
Mizgir enters. He is exhausted with searching for the Snow Maiden. Filled with elation and love, the Snow Maiden cannot help looking at Mizgir — her heart is full of new feelings.
Tsar Berendey and his suite appear in the valley. Mizgir asks the Tsar to bless his union with the Snow Maiden. The happiness of the Snow Maiden, however, will not last long. Love has made her vulnerable to Yarilo’s vengeance. A bright ray of sun falls on her: unable to withstand the warming rays, the Snow Maiden melts away. In grief, Mizgir throws himself into the lake.
However, nothing will cast a cloud on the Sun festival. The Snow Maiden is dead, and Father Frost loses his power over Spring. He can no longer freeze people´s hearts and souls. Yarilo the Sun will grant favour to the land of the Berendeyans again, bringing peace and prosperity.