Alexander Dargomizhky (1813-69) wrote The Stone Guest at the very end of his life, as he lay dying. He left strict instructions that the unfinished work be completed by Cesar Cui, and orchestrated by Rimsky-Korsakov.
Based on Pushkin’s version of the Don Juan story ( Mozart’s Don Giovanni is the most famous setting of the story), Dargomizhky had to be coerced into composing this opera by Borodin, Balakirev, Cui, Rimsky and Mussorgsky. He was deeply hurt by the failure of his earlier operas Rusalka and Esmerelda, and had given up writing for the stage.
The Stone Guest has exerted a considerable influence over Russian music and opera in particular due to the innovative use of melodic recitative. In this work Dargomizhky’s use of this new technique succeeded and lay the foundation stone for many of the Russian operas that followed. He is a minor composer but an influential figure in the development of the Russian nationalist musical style in the period between Glinka and ‘The Five’.
- Unusual repertoire, recorded in 1995.