Opera in four acts (eight paintings) based on the novel by V. Ya. Shishkov
Libretto by V. Ya. Shishkov and S. G. Ostrovy
Danila Gromov, merchant
Peter, his son
Prokhor, his grandson
Anfisa Kozyreva, a pupil of the Gromovs
Nina Kupriyanova, the daughter of a rich merchant
(first the bride, then wife of Prokhor)
Farkov, a mining engineer
Daria, the wife of Farkova
Ilya Sohatkh, the clerk of the Gromovs
Priiskovye workers, households Gromov, convicts, escorts, guards, guests of Prokhor.
The action takes place in Siberia around 1910.
In the Thunder House there is an ominous silence. Old man Danilo Gromov is dying – the owner of gold mines, the furious owner, who has ruined a lot of souls. Before his death, Danila shares the inheritance. He gives the smallest part of the gold to Petro, the drunkard’s drunken son, the big one to the grandson, the “Eaglet” Prokhor. Assigning Prokhor as his heir, the grandfather punishes him to be a strict master, to keep the people in a fist. But in the last seconds of life, greed overwhelms the old acquisitor, and he dies with a cry of “All mine, I will not give it to anybody!” The clerk of the Thundering Sohatykh shows his family the will of Danila: it confirms the division of property. Unexpectedly get rich Prohor is not afraid of the curse of his father. Anfisa, Prokhor’s beloved, is glad of his fortune, now nothing should prevent their happiness. But the glitter of gold, power blinded Prokhor. Mechanically, he answers the sweet
The yard of the Thunder House is filled with households and guests. Great congratulations, wishes of happiness are heard. Drunken revelry in full swing. The engagement of Prokhor with the daughter of the rich merchant Kupriyanov, Nina is celebrated. In the courtyard is Anfisa, which Peter, under a plausible pretext, sent for a week to the city. It was not for nothing that people warned her about the impending cunning of Prokhor. With anger and indignation, Anfisa rejects Peter’s impudent harassment. Meanwhile, Prokhor and Nina are discussing their future. Prokhor warns the bride that she is waiting for an uneasy life in the taiga region, where her own, cruel laws operate. Nina, who is more attracted to the capital’s entertainment and pleasure, is forced to submit to the imperious demands of the groom. But no matter how much Prokhor rejoices at the upcoming marriage on the rich merchant’s daughter, he is unable to wrest from his heart the image of Anfisa. However, wealth is more precious to him than love, and, When the girl reminds about the days of happiness, oaths, Prokhor roughly breaks it. Anfisa does not intend to give up and will be able to take revenge. An important document has come into her hands – the penitential grandfather of Danila with a list of the ruined and the robbed. And if Prokhor does not change her decision, she will transfer the paper to the prosecutor.
Along the Ugryum River, along the deaf man, a party of Gromov’s workers, surrounded by guards, is making his way in search of new gold deposits. Hunger, sickness, and oppression exhausted the people, many of them died en route. The murmur grows among the searchers. You can not go further. Farkov calls not to obey Gromov, who is ready to ruin people for the sake of gold. Neil proposes to kill the master and burn down the manor. Tungus runs out of the forest with a nugget in his hands. Gromov followed him with the bailiff. Prokhor swindles with a nugget, tries to get a gold deposit from Tungus. Farkov pleads for him, and furious Gromov, threatening to deal with the defender, leaves.
Anfisa approaches the workers. At last she managed to find a party in the taiga. Anfisa decided to make another attempt to return Prokhor. Golovan and Neil dissuade the girl from meeting with Gromov. Everyone knows his cruelty. The bailiff runs in: gold is found. Reluctant workers are sent to a new field.
On the bank of the Ugryum River, Prochor stands in reverie. He achieved everything he wanted: wealth, power, became the master of this mighty river with gold-bearing shores. She joyfully meets Prokhor Anfisa, seeing in her parish a sign that she obeyed her fate. But Prokhor was mistaken. Proud Anfisa did not forgive him treason. Again, it recalls a paper with a list of crimes of Danil Gromov. Prokhor demands to give him the document, tries to take it away by force and, meeting Anfisa’s resistance, strangles her in fury. The screams of Anfisa run to the workers. Taking advantage of the fact that the first at the crime scene was Farkov, Prokhor accused him of murder. In vain Farkov proves the opposite. The guards seize him.
Years have passed. On the bank of the Ugryum River, not far from the Gromov mines, a group of convicts camped. Among them – Farkov. Memories burn his soul. Only to return, then he will count with Gromov. But Comrade Farkov Bolshevik worker Vasily Fedorov does not approve of Farkov’s plans. It is not a question of revenge, but of a struggle for the liberation from the thunder of all working people. Fedorov tells Farkov to flee and get involved in revolutionary work. Convoys raise convicts, the party continues its way.
Darya, Neil and Golovan resort to the camp, but it’s too late – the party has already left. Suddenly, shots are heard, followed by Farkov. Neil and Golovan hide it under a fishing boat, and the pursuing soldiers are sent along the wrong path. Fishermen bring the victim killed during the escape of Fedorov. Farkov gives an oath over the body of a comrade to fulfill his covenant, to give all his strength to the struggle for the emancipation of the working class. Nil and Golovan swear to him together.
The workers gathered at the barracks, waiting for Farkov. There is no more power to endure the humiliation of Gromov and his clerks. The bailiff demands the extradition of a runaway convict, threatens Daria with reprisals. Neil and Golovan stand up for his companion’s wife. They are arrested. Anger and indignation embrace the workers. Daria persuades to demand from the owner of the answer for all his crimes. The workers are already preparing to move to the hostel, but Gromov himself appears before them. The forest burns, the fire goes to the mine and manor. The fire threatens Gromov with ruin, and he on his knees begs the workers to put out the fire, promising to release the arrested and triple the payment. But the workers already know the value of the master’s promises and, on Farkov’s advice, refuse to help him.
The taiga has been burning for a week already. Slowly, but inevitably, the fire is approaching the mine. Prokhor remembers that the same forest burned that summer, when he killed Anfisa, and animal fear creeps into his heart. Is it not retribution? The bailiff reports that the workers’ mines have struck and headed by Farkov go to the estate. Prokhor orders to suppress the strike by force. Nina is interrupting his gloomy reflections. She reminds that today is a family holiday, the guests will soon gather, and persuades not to spoil the solemn day, to concede to the workers, to release the hostages. Prokhor refuses, for it is worth conceding once, how he will lose his boundless power. No, he will crack down on the workers, what would it cost?
The elegant hall is full of guests. An endless stream of praise and praise to the owner flow. Gromov pronounces a toast in honor of gold, which reign supreme over people, allows them to buy their souls, conscience, friendship and love. Gold is power, and there is no power that can take it away. And as if in response to his words the rumble of the crowd is heard. That is the people who rebelled against the oppressors. The guests hastily leave. Soldiers can not stop workers, and they break into the house. The sound of a pistol shot is heard: Prokhor, fearing people’s anger, committed suicide.
The “Ugryum River” combines features of historical and everyday psychological opera. An acute class conflict, which determines the idea of the opera, is intertwined with the personal drama of the heroes. The images of the opera are clearly divided into two opposing camps. These are the exploratory workers, Farkov, Fedor, Daria, Neil, Golovan – on the one hand, and Gromov with his entourage – on the other. Convexed by Prohor Gromov, a man of strong character, driven by low passions – brutal cruelty, insatiable greed, thirst for power. To the rich nature of Anfisa is counterposed to the colorless and mediocre Nina. The opera combines various musical means: broad pesennost in choral episodes, recitation in solo rooms, domestic genres (chastushka, “philistine” waltz, etc.) in the depiction of everyday life. The composer managed to convey in the music a harsh coloring of Siberian nature.
Orchestral entry creates a majestic image of the taiga Siberian river.
A heavy, oppressive atmosphere prevails in the scene of the death of his grandfather Danila, opening the first act. Dialogues of soloists alternate with the replicas of the choir of household members. The oath of solemnity is the solemn oath of Prokhor. The dispute between father and son because of inheritance is decided by the reception of contrast: sharp phrases-cries of arguing can be heard against the background of the sadly dispassionate chorus of the requiem. A tender lyric theme is characterized by Anfisa; in a duet with Prokhor, her gentle, praying intonations contrasted Gromov’s crude remarks. The painting ends with the torso of Prokhor, Peter and Anfisa, where the emotions of the characters are psychologically subtle.
The engagement scene begins with a heavy majestic choir, followed by an agitated, full of bitterness of insult Anfisa’s aria “I grew up an orphan in this house.” The situation of drunken revelry is characterized by chastushki drunken guys.
Orchestral entry of the second act with a dreary melancholy melody of the English horn draws a picture of the taiga wilderness. In this same mood, the song of the Tungus is sustained. A chorus of workers sounds dull, growing into a scene of discontent, where Farkov’s courageous speech stands out. Feelings of anger, resentment are expressed in the song “You’re My Mother, Ugryum River”, reminiscent of the old songs of Russian freemen. Marching rhythm of arioso Prokhor “Hello, hello, Ugryum River” conveys his ecstasy with unlimited power. The culmination of the picture is the acutely dramatic scene of the murder of Anfisa.
The fifth picture begins with a chorus of convicts “We are walking along the flinty road,” related to revolutionary prison songs. He is close to the song “Eh, dear you, dear”. Sincere sadness touches the aria of Dasha “Silence on earth!” The passionate aria-oath of Farkov, sounding against the background of the funeral march, is filled with restrained pathetic.
The sixth picture is framed by the choir of the workers “Silushka-force you, the strength of the people.” In the center of her are episodes with a bailiff, Dasha’s passionate appeal to deal with Gromov, his humiliated pleas, pathetic speech of Farkov, which create a line of continuous dramatic growth.
In the seventh picture, the main place is taken by Prokhor’s monologue, seized by fear of the people.
The eighth, culminating picture opens with a ceremonial chorus. In the aria of Prokhor “Everything on earth is fragile,” outside exaltation one feels a feeling of emptiness. The opera ends with the choir-song of the victorious people, glorifying the Ugryum River, which became the symbol of the struggle for a working share.