Opera in four acts (eight scenes)
Libretto by LI Dzerzhinsky
Lushka, his wife
Timothy, his son
Wife of Khoprov
An old man with a cigar
Cossack with a newspaper
The fucking guy
The chief of militia
The dramatic soprano
Cossacks, kulaks, collective farmers, women, old women, guys, girls.
The action takes place on the Don in 1930.
HISTORY OF CREATION
Soon after the successful production of “The Quiet Don” on the instructions of the Leningrad Small Opera House, II Dzerzhinsky began work on the opera “Virgin Soil Upturned” for the first part of the novel of the same name by MA Sholokhov (1932). The composer showed great courage, turning to the plot of the life of the village during the period of collectivization, that is, events historically close. To better acquaint himself with the songs of the Don Cossacks, Dzerzhinsky visited the Don in the village of Veshenskaya and the Cossack collective farms in the Millerova district. This journey the composer undertook on the advice of Sholokhov, a meeting with which occurred at the performances of the “Quiet Don”. The opera was completed in 1937. October 23 of the same year in Moscow, on the stage of the Bolshoi Theater of the USSR, its first performance
The libretto, written by the composer’s brother LI Dzerzhinsky, is close to the literary source. However, if the first part of the novel ends with an acute situation – the appearance of Timofei, who fled from exile from the exile, then the story is further developed in the libretto. The collective farmers, led by Davydov and Nagulnov, manage to catch Timofei, expose the organizer of the Ostrovnov conspiracy.
Young cossacks and girls gathered at the outskirts of the village. They have fun under Timothy’s accordion, listen to the funny stories of Shchukar’s grandfather. Among the young women are Lushka, the wife of Makar Nagulnov. She is fascinated by Timothy and is delighted by his invitation to a date. The fun is interrupted by the arrival of Davydov. A locksmith from the Putilov factory, he came to help organize the collective farm. Davidov’s speeches about the advantages of collective farm life are met with hostility by Timofei, threatening reprisals. He is not alone in his hatred of the collective farms. His father Frol Damaskov, Bannik and other kulaks, secretly meeting in the house of Yakov Ostrovnov, are developing an action plan. The former captain of Polovtsi, who led the conspiracy, promises help from abroad. As a token of loyalty to the oath, he demands to sign the oath. However, Khoprov, who was forced to come under the threat of exposure – he served in the white army, – refuses to sign and runs away. In fear, the kulaks disperse hastily. Fearing the disclosure of the conspiracy, Polovtsev inclines Timofei, hurrying to a meeting, to the murder of Khoprov. This time Lushka waited in vain for her darling. Not knowing about the participation of Ostrovnov in the conspiracy, Davydov and Party Party secretary Nagulnov trust him to manage the collective farm.
The square in front of the village council. Davydov gives instructions – who to whom to dekulakize. Lyubishkin, who refuses from a sense of pity, he talks about the tragic fate of his family. The kulaks are expelled, and Lushka wants to say goodbye to Timothy. In vain Nagulnov asks not to be ashamed of him with all the people. She escapes from her husband’s hands and rushes to Timothy.
In the yard of his house Makar teaches English. Lushka, having decided to leave the house, says goodbye to her husband. In a clash with the Cossacks, who do not want to surrender their seed bread, Nagulnov breaks down and sets off the revolver. Davydov is outraged by his behavior. He promises to inform the district committee about this. Women provoked by rumors of sending grain abroad, require Davydov’s keys to the barn. But he does not give them away. By striking a stake, he is knocked down and beaten. Davydov loses consciousness. Having cracked the barn, the Cossacks dragged the grain. Ostrovnova gathered the conspirators. Having learned from the newspapers that the Soviet government condemns those who forcibly drove into the collective farm, they decide to abandon the oath given to Polovtsev. In vain are the attempts of the leader of the conspiracy to again incline them to his side. He has to flee in defense of his revolver.
Room in the district committee. Nagunlova was expelled from the ranks for distorting the party line. Makar is shocked by what happened. He considers the decision unjust. But gradually in his soul a breakthrough is brewing. He decides to work this way again to earn a membership card.
In the yard of the village council Davydov explains to Nagulnov, Lyubishkin and Shchukar how to conduct work to involve the Cossacks in the collective farm. The women who have come from the prison are asking forgiveness from Davydov. As the main culprit, they point to Ostrovnov, who pushed them to take away the barn keys. Left alone, Davydov encounters Lushka, who is trying to seduce him. However, Davydov does not want to talk with someone who is shy from work. Lushka at first flatly refuses to work, but then still asks to write it down in the collective farm.
Evening. The virgin steppe is raised, the collective farmers are resting. When everyone diverge, Davydov sees Lushka. She changed dramatically – she became one of the best female workers. Davydov realizes that he loves her. He suggests Lusche to become his wife. Lusha, who sincerely fell in love with Davydov, is happy. In the meantime, Timofei, who had fled from exile, was meeting with Ostrovnov. They conspire to kill Davidov and set fire to the collective farm.
The farmers celebrate the end of sowing. Running Lusha excitedly informs that Timoshka returned and with him – runaway gangsters. Bandits are caught. Davydov, with all the collective farmers, reveals the true face of Ostrovnov. Now, finally, you can safely live and work. Nagulnov also has a double joy: the district committee decided to restore him to the party.
“Virgin Soil Upturned” is the first experience of the embodiment of the theme of the socialist reorganization of the village in the operatic genre. Among the merits of the opera is the connection of the musical language with folk songs, the sincerity of the lyrics, the dramatic expressiveness of a number of scenes.
In the overture, built on the material of the opera, the melodies of cheerful dances and the chased march are replaced by the pathetic theme of Nagulnov.
The peculiarity of the first act is the abundance of different episodes and frequent change of scene. Lyrical song Lushka with the chorus “As the evening on the fence” is inherent in a lively, fervent hue. Shchukar’s story “For a long time it was” is sustained in a folk-dance warehouse and is full of comic strokes. In the arioso of Davidov “So you say”, softness and sincerity gradually give way to decisiveness, volitional energy. The long choral song behind the scenes “In the garden, in the orchard” frames the scene of the plot. In the center of her monologue Polovtseva “I heard everything”, the music of which breathes with hatred and a thirst for revenge. Romance Timothy’s song “Forgive and Farewell” is written in the rhythm of a waltz. Romance saddened, offended Lusha “And why I fell in love with it,” contrasts her coquettishly cheerful chastushka “Priadelas,
In Davydov’s story “There were four of us” (the first picture of the second act), restrained sorrow is replaced by an angry pathos. The chorus “Oh, Mother” is close to folk laments.
Nagulnov’s ponderously serious aria “I see how the brothers” (the second picture) gradually acquires an ecstatically-dreamy character. The act ends with a mass stage, in the center of which an excited chorus of women “Where are the keys?”.
The choir of the Cossacks “Tomorrow Perform” in the first picture of the third act is full of gloomy determination. Their subsequent confused retorts are opposed by Polovtsev’s bellicose military monologue “The Hour Is Near.”
Arioso Nagulnova “Connected with the Party” from the second picture is a character of sorrowful meditation. A turning point in his mood was allegorically transmitted in the choir “Illuminated in a clean pole”; the pensive lyrical melody is saturated with energy and strength. In the arioso Nagulnova “Shame, Makar” can be heard courageous determination, will; it ends with a melody of a light ecstatic hymn, which the choir takes backstage.
Shchukar’s story “The Mare bought” from the third picture is akin to merry chastushkas. Full of passionate enthusiasm monologue Davydov “I threw the machine”; he grows into a song with the choir “Who could let this fable this”, which causes associations with melodies of revolutionary song-marches. In the scene of Davydov with Lushka, Lushka’s musical speech is soft, insinuating, sometimes brisk, mischievous, and Davydov has a strict, determined voice. The first picture of the fourth act is constructed as a chain of song episodes. The initial chorus “In the garden, in the garden” is related to lyrical Cossack songs of the Soviet era. Broken chants of the guys “In the garden apple blossoms” frame Davydov’s romance “Strange Such”, fanned with mild humor, and the tender-hearted song of the Ragged guy “Eh, Lushenka.” Lyric arioso Davydova “
The second picture – an unfolded mass stage – is preceded by an interlude, in which a dashing Cossack song “Walking to the War” sounds, which has become widely popular (based on the melody of the initial choir of the first picture of the fourth act, transformed due to a fast tempo and active rhythm). Cheerful chants “Eh, give, gudi, accordion” and dashing praises sharply contrast dramatic music at the time of Lushka’s appearance and Davydov’s energetic march song “Sworn enemy is caught”. The opera ends with already sounded melodies: the hymn “We will give all the forces” (sings Nagulnov), the song-march “To the life of the light (Davydov sings) and the Cossack song” Eh, blossom “.