Opera in four acts (six scenes)
Libretto by LI Dzerzhinsky
Ilyinichna, his wife
Dasha, wife of Peter
Natalia, her daughter
Mitka, her son
Eugene, his son
Mishuk, Comrade Gregory
Sashka, coachman Listnitskikh
The dramatic soprano
Guests, men, Cossacks, soldiers, deserters, prisoners.
Time: 1914-1917 years.
“Quiet Don” – the first artistically valuable Soviet opera on a revolutionary theme. An acute sense of modernity, a creative attitude to folk songs, reliance on the classical traditions of Russian opera art (especially Mussorgsky) determined the strengths of this work.
The first picture – a colorful everyday scene, against which a number of dramatic episodes arise. The chorus “Oh, Mother, I’m sick of me,” written in the nature of the wedding song conveys the mood of a wild, reckless fun. Dialogue of Gregory and Natalia “Grishenka, do not you yearn for it again?” and their duet “With you do I miss the past?” are imbued with a lyrically dreamy mood. Appearance Aksinya brings to music drama. Confidence and self-esteem is filled with her brief arioso “Do not touch, old man!” Sharply and roughly sounds the appeal of Mitka “Sister to shame my shame came.” In the words of Aksinya, addressed to Gregory: “Offended, Grisha,” there is a sorrowful reproach.
The introduction to the second painting is based on the sad melody of Aksinya’s song “Dolinushka you, the valley”. A striking contrast to this music is Mishuk’s merry, provocative song “In the Donets in the Woods”. In the monologue of Gregory “I will not think up, I will not guess” the music gets more and more excited, passionate character. Lyrical song of Natalia “Kaby for flowers not frosts” is close to the people’s lingering tunes. In the scene of Gregory’s confrontation with Pantelei Melekhov’s sarcastic remarks, the firm resolve resounding in Gregory’s speeches. Song Gregory and Aksinya “Do we cry,... grieve” imbued with a cheerful mood.
The third scene (the second act) is dominated by mass scenes. Chorus “The Day of the Comforter, a merry day” conveys the revival of a noisy crowd of people, a sense of elemental strength and mental health. Sadly sounds a long song of the peasants “In a strange land burned.” The final chorus “Oh, trouble, attack what” in nature is akin to folk dances.
The fourth picture opens with a mournful orchestral introduction. In the animated story of Sasha “Running from the fortress of the villain” music abounds with witty, colorful details. An ingratiating insinuity marked the deliberately banal romance of Yevgeny Listnitsky “Why be sad in vain?”. Arioso Aksinya “Hurry up, Gregory” is filled with a feeling of agonizing anxiety and mental turmoil.
The fifth picture (the third act) is dynamic, full of movement and musical contrasts. Sadness and melancholy sounds in Mishka’s song “Oh, yes, a side that is paralyzed.” Poetically thoughtful and majestic chorus “Oh, and our proud Quiet Don”. The song of Mishuk and Gregory “Not an Austrian is our enemy”, sustained in an energetic march movement, imbued with conscriptive willful pathos, resembles the combat songs of the revolution and civil war.
The introduction to the sixth painting (the fourth act) splits into two parts. In the first develops the melody of Aksinya, in the second dramatically-intense music draws a picture of the popular uprising. Against the backdrop of the rhythms of a wild leap, courageous revolutionary melodies sound. Sinister monologue of old Listnitsky “Terrible clouds hung over the Don.” Brief arioso Gregory “To a strange wife, without a roof, without a corner” is imbued with suffering and heartache. The opera is completed with a military marching song “From the Edge to the Edge”, from which the unconquerable belief in the victory of the people is blowing.