Opera in three acts (six scenes)
Libretto by Pavel A. Viskovatov
Tamara, his daughter
Prince of the Synodal, the fiance of Tamara
The old servant of Prince Synodal
Choruses of evil and kind spirits, Georgians and Georgians, guests, Tatars, servants, nuns.
Storm in the mountains. Against the background of the sky, illuminated by flashes of lightning, the figure of Demon loomed lonely. He joyfully hears the raging elements of destruction and struggle. But the storm subsides. The demon scornfully listens to the many-voiced chorus of the awakening nature. He hates the world inhabited by nonentities, reptiles before the creator of the universe. The angel of good calls the Demon to love and forgiveness. Only by loving and forgiving, he can return to paradise. But the Demon rejects these calls. He does not need the peace of the paradise monastery: he longs for struggle and passion.
Castle of Prince Gudal on the coast of Aragva. A group of girls goes down to the river for water. Among them is the beautiful daughter of Gudal Tamara. She jokes and plays with friends. Invisible by them, appears on the rock Demon. He is struck by the sheer beauty of Tamara. Unclear anguish seizes the girl; she senses the presence of the Demon. Suddenly, the words of passionate confessions relate to her hearing. Someone invisible calls on her to forget everything earthly, to go to the superstars, where she will become the queen of the world. Tamara looks around and sees the Demon. In fright she calls her friends, but there is already no one on the rock. Full of unclear sadness, Tamara returns to the castle.
The young prince of Sinodal hurries to the bride. The storm was delayed by his caravan, and today he can not reach the castle of Gudal. The night falls. In the wild gorge, near the old abandoned chapel, the caravan stops for the night. The prince sends messengers to Gudal. The camp falls asleep. Only the Synodal sits in reverie. His thoughts are directed to Tamara, he dreams of an imminent meeting with his beloved. But now the prince is overcome by a dream. On the rock appears the sombre figure of the Demon. For a while, the Demon peers into the asleep travelers and then disappears. Suddenly, robbers attacked the sleeping caravan. An unequal battle is tied up. The synodal dies with the name of Tamara on her lips.
In the castle of Gudal everything is ready for the wedding. They wait only for the groom. The old prince brings to the guests dressed in a wedding dress Tamara. The messenger informs that soon the Synodal should arrive. Dances begin. Unexpected noise and screaming breaks the fun. They bring in the body of the murdered prince. Tamara is stricken with grief. The guests kneel in prayer. At this time Tamara again hears the voice of Demon and with trembling he hears his consolations. She plunges into a heavy sleep; in her dream is the Demon. After awakening, Tamara searches for a mysterious tempter and suddenly hears his voice in real life. Fearing seduction, she asks her father to let her go to the monastery. Goodal gives consent.
Night. The monastery sleeps. Only the window of Tamara’s cell is illuminated. The Demon appears. Love transformed him. Extinguished feelings came to life. He no longer has the roads either power, immortality, or freedom. He longs to experience human happiness. With a secret trembling, the Demon approaches the monastery, but the Angel blocks his way. He conjures the Demon to leave Tamara. In a moment, the former hatred boils in the Demon’s soul, and with a cry of “She’s mine,” he rushes for the fence.
The cell, illuminated by the lamp. Tamara is standing by the open window. The monastery did not bring the desired calm to the girl. And here she is persistently pursued by the image of a mysterious tempter. Suddenly the lamp goes out, Tamara... sees in the Demon’s cell. He tells her of his sufferings, the thirst for renewal and love, which caused him to hate evil. Tamara tries to overcome the growing feeling of love. But the Demon’s speech sounds more and more passionate, hot, and the girl lends itself to his charm. The demon reaches her lips with a passionate kiss. Tamara falls dead. The evil spirit triumphs: he has mastered the pure soul of the girl. But his triumph is premature: The angel of good brings Tamara forgiveness. Her soul belongs to the sky. The last hope of the Demon was lost. Again he is alone in the world, alone with his longing and hatred.
“Demon” has pronounced features of the lyric-dramatic opera. Attention to the psychic life of heroes, the depiction of actors in emotionally stressful situations, the subordinate place of pictures of life and nature – these are the main features of this opera.
In the introduction of the first picture, a whistle of wind, thunderous rumble, against the background of them – a chorus of spirits. Gradually, the threatening vortex ceases. The chorus of infernal spirits is replaced by the voices of winds, water streams and flowers, merging into the majestic hymn of light, the world and its creator. In sharp contrast, the demon monologue The Damned World invades, in which mourning, meditation, anger and despair have merged.
The second picture, unlike the first, is generally transparent and bright. The symphonic introduction draws a quiet and clear evening in the mountains; Flutes imitate the shepherd’s flavors. The chorus of girls “We walk to Aragve light” enchants with its unsophisticated simplicity and grace. Tamara’s voice joins their voices, her coloratura passages are lyrical and charmingly spontaneous. The mood of cloudless fun is disturbed by the passionate confessions of the Demon; in the exciting melody of his arioso “Child, in your embrace” is heard admiration and imperious call.
In the gloomy colors painted the music of the third picture. The symphonic interlude conveys the harsh color of the wild gorge. A tender, poetic feeling is warmed by the Synodal arioso “Turned by a Falcon”, distinguished by a whimsical oriental melody. The choir “Nochenka” sounds mysteriously and alarmingly. Arioso of the prince “Dark night” is full of bliss and passionate yearning.
The second act is characterized by sharply contrasting comparisons. The first part, which paints the picture of the marriage feast, is opposed by the second, confused and worried. This contrast is present already in the symphonic introduction, where the rhythms of the funeral procession alternate with solemn fanfares. In a festive atmosphere, reigning in the castle of Gudal, introduces a cheerful chorus “On the day of merriment we are gathered.” Dances follow him: energetic, impetuous masculine and passionate, temperamental female; they are replaced by a smooth and flexible dance of girls. In a sad arioso “My prince, wake up,” Tamara mourns her fiancé. Arioso grows into a universal crying, reaching a great emotional strength. The greatness of Demon’s melody “On the Air Ocean” is full of greatness. The third act consists of two pictures. It begins with a symphony introduction, which draws Tamara’s mental turmoil. The central place in the first picture is occupied by Arioso Demon’s “Abode asleep”, full of warmth and sincerity.
The second picture – the dramatic culmination of the opera – is entirely chambered. The composing duets and arioso merge into a single stream of musical development. Proudly arioso Demon “I am he who listened to.” His monologue “Oh, if you could understand” is permeated with deep excitement. A small arioso of Tamara “Whoever you were, my sad friend,” imbued with a feeling of compassion, sounds like a plea. Behind the excited, ecstatically-elevated oath of the Demon, “I swear I was the first day of creation,” follows a brief love duet. A dynamic, emotionally charged ending conveys the growing confusion of Tamara and the desperation of the defeated Demon. The opera ends with an enlightened choir of angels.