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Theatre Review: The Tsar’s Bride at the Royal Opera House

PUBLISHED: 12:07 21 April 2011

Pictured performing in The Tsar's Bride (from left) are Paata Burchuladze as Sobakin, Marina Poplovskaya as Marfa, and Johan Reuter as Gryaznoy. Picture: The Royal Opera/Bill Cooper

Pictured performing in The Tsar's Bride (from left) are Paata Burchuladze as Sobakin, Marina Poplovskaya as Marfa, and Johan Reuter as Gryaznoy. Picture: The Royal Opera/Bill Cooper

THE ROYAL OPERA / BILL COOPER 2011

Experience a lesser-known opera by one of Russia’s great composers, as Rimsky-Korsakov’s THE TSAR’S BRIDE is performed by The Royal Opera.

BEST known for the popular Flight of the Bumblebee, Rimsky-Korsakov was a member of a troupe of composers known as The Five. They all decided to create Russian-sounding music rather than imitate European forms.

His opera The Tsar’s Bride is standard in the Russian repertoire but does not enjoy the same elevated status in the West. This is the first ever production at the Royal Opera House and, on the basis of this performance, we’ve been missing out.

At almost three and a half hours with only one interval, it’s a long opera. But the drama, passion and intrigue of the plot combined with Rimsky-Korsakov’s fine music, easily carries the lavish production through to its tragic conclusion.

The story follows the jealous actions of Grigory Gryaznoy. He’s fallen in love with Marfa, herself already in love with Likov. A chain of deception is brought to its fatal conclusion when Marfa is chosen by the Tsar to become his new bride.

The predominantly Russian cast brilliantly capture the flavour, nuance and spirit of the music. The performances are all strong but Dmitry Popov as Likov, Johan Reuter as Grigory Gryaznoy and Ekaterina Gubanova as his spurned lover Lyubasha particularly stand out.

The Tsar’s Bride is a wonderful opportunity to experience a lesser-known opera by one of the great Russian composers.

* Showing at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, WC2, until Monday, May 2.


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