Summary Dmitry Borisovich Kabalevsky. Family of Taras


Opera in four acts (eight scenes)

Libretto by SA Tsenin



Efrosinya, his wife

Nastya, their daughter

Stepan, their son

Andrew, their son

Antonina, wife of Andrey

Pavlik, Komsomol member


Grandfather Semyon, Forester

Vasya, Komsomol member

Vanya, Komsomol member

1st collective farmer

2nd collective farmer (headman)

1st Worker

2nd working

German Colonel

German lieutenant

German Convoy


Mezzo soprano


















members of the Komsomol, inhabitants of the working village occupied by the fascists, collective farmers, soldiers of the Soviet Army.

The action takes place during the Great Patriotic War in the middle zone of Russia.


The opera is based on the novel “Unconquered” by Boris Gorbatov (1943), in which the story of the life of one family during the Great Patriotic War grows into a heroic epic about the suffering and struggle of Soviet people in the land temporarily taken by the enemy. Librettist SA Tsenin and the composer masterfully adapted the plot of the story to the specific conditions of the opera. The introduction of a number of new motifs and scenes made the characteristics of the protagonists of the opera more bold and effective. If Taras at Gorbatov enters the fight only at the end of the story, then in the opera he shows heroism already in the scene at the factory. The image of Taras’s daughter Komsomolka Nastya, outlined in a short story in small strokes, became one of the central operas in the opera. Shown widely and multifaceted, this image concentrates

in itself the best features of the heroic Soviet youth. Somewhat impoverished is represented in the libretto by the Communist Stepan, the eldest son of Taras. Closer to the literary prototype, the youngest son of Taras, Andrew, although his complex, painful and contradictory path is not fully enough. Significant in the opera is the role of folk scenes.

The first edition of the opera, completed in 1947, suffered serious shortcomings and was criticized. The composer reworked the work, which resulted in the second edition in 1950. In a new form, the “Taras Family” was first staged on the stage of the Leningrad Kirov Theater of Opera and Ballet (premiered on November 7, 1950), and then bypassed most of the Soviet and a number of foreign opera scenes.


On the fronts there are fierce battles with the Hitlerites. The enemy is approaching the Donbas. A summer afternoon at the house of Nastia her girlfriends-schoolgirls gathered. They are alarmed by the silence that has come. Childhood is left behind, the war has dispelled young dreams. Before the separation, the girls remember their favorite school song. At the front leave the brothers Nastya – Stepan and Andrew. The whole family with Taras leads them. After the wires, the old worker Nazar informs Taras about the plant’s explosion. And Pavka, a friend of Nastya, brings even more terrible news: an enemy enters the city. A young man and a girl swear to devote their lives to fighting. The explosions are heard: the fascists occupy the city.

Taras decided to wait out the terrible time of the fascist occupation, to hide from life. Gloomy and anxious in a tightly locked house. Antonina, quietly singing, rocking the child. The weary silence is disturbed by the arrival of Nastya. Despite the prohibition of parents, she continues to leave the house and meet friends. Somebody’s knocking on the door. In fear everyone listens. But on the threshold neighbor Nazar. He ridicules the seclusion of Taras, teaching him a parable about a peasant and a bear. The sorrowful song of the girls being hijacked to Germany is heard. Taras can no longer remain silent. He understood the need to fight the fierce enemy.

The camp of partisans in a dense forest. Here, Taras unexpectedly meets his eldest son Stepan, who, on instructions from the party, went underground to lead a partisan detachment. A crowd of collective farmers appears, hiding from the fascists. They are excitedly telling about their resistance to the enemy and the cruelty of the punishers. Stepan tells the glad tidings – the offensive of the Soviet Army began. Now Taras found his place in the struggle for freedom of the Motherland.

The Komsomol members received a combat mission to blow up the fascist headquarters, which was located in the school building. Nastya hesitates, for her school – the personification of a peaceful life, a happy childhood. Pavka convinces her friend of the need to bring bright memories in a sacrifice to a beautiful future. They part. Suddenly a man enters into the house in a tattered soldier’s greatcoat. The family can hardly recognize Andrei in it. He talks nervously, incoherently, about how he was taken prisoner. Taras angrily denounces him as a traitor-deserter. Andrew leaves his father’s house: he decided to redeem his own blood.

Komsomols gathered at the school building. At the Nazi headquarters ball. Pavka and his friends rush to school. At the post are Nastia and Komsomol member Vanya. Nastya worries about the fate of Pavka, counts seconds. Finally, a long-awaited explosion is heard: the mission is completed.

By order of the fascist command, the wrecked workers were driven to repair the tanks. But the old people, seasoned in the battles of the revolution and civil war, again feel themselves as fighters. In vain the Hitlerite colonel threatens them with execution. Taras declares the unyielding will of his comrades. His speech is interrupted by a shot of the furious Colonel. The wounded Taras falls into the hands of friends. Suddenly news comes of a breakthrough front; the fascists scatter.

Young underground workers gathered in the house of Taras. In joyful excitement, the Komsomol members share the news of a turning point at the front. From Stepan they receive the last mission: to blow up the bridge to cut off the enemy’s path to retreat. The youth diverges. Only Pavka lingers to say goodbye to Nastya. Their friendship strengthened their friendship and love. Together they dream of the future. The boy leaves. The Germans are bursting into the house. They found out that here, at Taras, the appearance of the Komsomol members. Nastya is interrogated. The girl refuses to give the names of the comrades. She fearlessly throws angry, contemptuous words into the enemy’s face. Frenzied Hitlerites take the young heroine to execution. Efrosinya rushes after her daughter. The cannonade of the advancing troops of the Soviet Army is heard closer and closer. Appears Taras and Antonina. Efrosinya tells them the terrible news about Nastya’s execution.

The people are meeting the Soviet Army. Among the warriors Pavka and Andrey, with courage and courage returned an honest name. Taras turns to his countrymen with worried words: despite the horrors experienced, the people did not surrender, did not submit.


“The Taras family” is one of the most striking Soviet heroic-patriotic operas. In her music there are sharply contrasted two struggling camps – Soviet people and the Hitlerites. In the outline of the former, the song principle prevails. Characteristic of the second is devoid of song; the enemy appears as an inhuman force, rudely invading the peaceful life of the country. In the numerous choral scenes, group portraits of workers, members of the Komsomol, collective farmers – ordinary Soviet people – were faithfully recreated.

Overture opens with a solemn, heroic motive, a symbol of the steadfastness of the people. Romantic, upbeat, courageous images of Soviet people are opposed by the cruel, sinister themes of the enemy and the people’s disaster.

The beginning of the first act creates a feeling of anxious silence. Arioso Nastenki “Today I was running with the school to say goodbye” captivates with its purity and lyricism. Komsomol song “At the old village near” is full of freshness, youthful enthusiasm and faith in the future. A large ensemble (quintet) conveys the sense of spiritual recovery that has engulfed the family of Taras. The melodious, expressive duet of Euphrosyne and Antonina “Defend both old and small” is close to Russian lingering songs. In the great choral finale “Nights glow with a glow,” the mood of sorrow turns into an angry call to fight.

A brief orchestral introduction to the second picture conveys a state of deaf anxiety and alertness. The rude, spiteful motive of the enemy interrupts the gentle melody of the lullaby Antonina “The time will pass dark.” Anxiety for the future of Nastia and love for her express the aria of Euphrosyne “As a flower blossomed the field.” Mournful, imbued with intense tragedy, the song of women-polonynok “Oh, my side, side” – dramatic climax of the picture. The monologue of Taras, which sounds like an explosion of anger and heartache, ends with a powerful sound of a heroic melody from the tutti of the orchestra.

The orchestral introduction to the third painting (the second act) depicts the cloudless landscape, the breadth and beauty of Russian nature. The quartet (Taras, Stepan, Nazar, Grandfather Semyon) expresses joy and confidence in victory. The stern, courageously restrained aria of Stepan is crowned with a broad chant of the partisan song “Oh, forests, yes impenetrable.” The painting ends with a large folk stage.

The fourth picture (the second act), consisting of two large scenes, is most expressive and dramatically saturated. The first, associated with the Komsomol members, Nastya and Pavka, introduces youthful romance into the pure and bright world. The second scene is the collision of two opposite characters: the intimidated, hounded by the enemies of Andrey and the staunch, courageous Taras. The central episode of the picture is the pathetic aria of Taras “You, Andrey, were afraid at the time of death”. As a gloomy reminder of the enemy occupation from afar sounds a hard, dumb march of the fascists.

In the fifth picture (the third act), the sentimental waltz and unbridled gallop draw the repulsive appearance of the Hitlerites, opposed to the ethically beautiful world of the Komsomol youth; Komsomol members are characterized by a choir-oath, whose music resembles songs of the Civil War.

The sixth painting (the third act) is preceded by an orchestral introduction, in which the servitude of the masters is heard. A harsh march choir “If we now stand before the enemy” is akin to the old revolutionary songs. The melody of the “Internationale” in the mouths of the workers symbolizes their moral victory over the enemy.

Orchestral introduction to the seventh painting (the fourth act) reminds the listener of the music of the overture. The picture splits into two large sections. Lyrical scene of Nastia and Pavki and Arioso Nastia “For a long time I knew it” embody the gentle and quivering feeling of pure, shy love. The turning point is the arrival of the fascists. In the clash with the Nazi lieutenant, the image of the Komsomol appears in all its heroic grandeur. The pathetic and solemn conclusion of the picture and the symphonic interlude sound like an epitaph to a young heroine who gave her life for the happiness of the people.

The eighth picture – the finale of the opera – is a large festive choral scene in which the jubilation of the people is highlighted by the agitated monologue of Taras.

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Summary Dmitry Borisovich Kabalevsky. Family of Taras