Best known for his final opera, The Stone Guest, Alexander Dargomyzhsky was a 19th-century composer who effectively bridged the gap in Russian national opera between Mikhail Glinka and the later generation of The Five and Tchaikovsky. His Rusalka of 1848–55 predates Dvořák’s, and supposedly came about as a result of reading the opening line of Pushkin’s incomplete dramatic poem of the same name: ‘The Mermaid (Rusalka) sits on the branches’. It is a tale of woe, a confluence of the real and fantastic worlds that results in the Prince entering the underwater kingdom in order to be with his beloved, Natasha.
Such feelings as narrated in the opera – the sufferings of a father, maddened with grief; the pain of a rejected woman; the belated repentance of the Prince – were inherent to the literary works of Fyodor Dostoyevsky and the paintings of Alexander Ivanov of that time, and Dargomyzhsky’s heartfelt drama, touching in its simplicity, is most keenly felt in the improvisational style of the work’s musical language – particularly in its pioneering application of the musical recitative, later developed by composers such as Mussorgsky. The work was not an instant success with the public, but this astute, rare 1983 recording underlines the eventual (and deserved) admiration it received. Natalia Mikhailova and Konstantin Pluzhnikov take on the two protagonist roles, ably supported by the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio under their chief conductor of the time, Vladimir Fedoseyev.
- Recorded in 1983 with full Russian forces, conducted by the esteemed Vladimir Fedoseyev.
- Following the success of ‘The Stone Guest’ (BC 94028) this set presents Dargomizhky’s Rusalka (written before Dvorak’s opera on the same topic).
- A superb addition to the Brilliant Classics Opera Collection, the treasure trove of the famous and unexpected!
- Dargomizhky bridges the gap in Russian music between Glinka and the ‘Mighty Handful’ (or ‘The Five’). Especially Mussorgsky learned a lot from him: the bold and improvisational style, and the heartfelt romantic language.
- Booklet contains notes on the music and a synopsis of the opera.