Summary Nikolai Andreevich Rimsky-Korsakov. Sadko


Opera-epic in seven scenes

Libretto by NA Rimsky-Korsakov and VI Belsky


Foma Nazarjic

Luka Zinovyich


The foreman and governor,

The abbots of Novgorod



Sadko, guslar and singer in Novgorod

Liubava Buslaevna, his young wife

Unsharp, young guslar from Kiev-city


Mezzo soprano




1 st, 2 nd


Removable chamomiles



1st and 2nd mezzo soprano





Overseas guests





the king of the sea

Volkhov, the beautiful princess, his daughter

Young, beloved

Vision: The old man is mighty hero

In the guise of a gentry





About the opera on the story of Novgorod epic about Sadko Rimsky-Korsakov thought back in the 1880s, but to work on it began only in the summer of 1894. Rimsky-Korsakov shared his plan with VV Stasov, an outstanding democratic scientist and music critic, with whom he was associated for many years of creative friendship. Stasov responded with a large letter, in which, referring to the numerous variants of the epics, he advised the composer to show more widely the pictures of real folk life and the life of ancient Novgorod.

The opera according to the original plan, in which much space was given to the fantastically fantastic scenes, was completed by the fall of 1895. However, over time Rimsky-Korsakov accepted Stasov’s proposals and in the summer of next year he subjected the work to serious processing,

taking advantage of the help of VI Belsky (1866-1946) – the future librettist “Tales of Tsar Saltan”, “Tales of the City of Kitezh” and ” The Golden Cockerel. “

Thanks to the alterations, along with the image of the national singer, guslar Sadko, the image of his wife Lyubava – a faithful, truly loving Russian woman – arose; People’s scenes were significantly developed and enriched with new episodes.

The opera acquired the character of a full-blooded, truthful narrative about the powerful and original life of the people, taking its place among the most vivid and significant works of Russian opera classics.

In the autumn of 1896 the opera was offered to the directorate of the Mariinsky Theater, but met with a cold reception; Nicholas II personally struck it off the repertoire. For the first time, Sadko was staged on the stage of the Moscow private opera by SI Mamontov. The premiere took place on December 26, 1897 (January 7, 1898) and was a great success.


The rich merchants are feasted by Novgorod merchants. With them the young guslar Nezhat from Kiev, the buffoons Duda and Sopel, the city abbots of Foma Nazarich and Luka Zinovyich. The merchants boast of their wealth and power. Nezhat sings the epic about the mighty Volha Vseslavich. But Sadko reproaches the merchants for an empty boast. He dreams of wandering, to spread the fame of Novgorod far along the expanses of the earth. They did not like the daring speeches of the rich abbots and merchants, and they drove Sadko away.

Sadko came to the deserted shore of Ilmen Lake and sang a sad song. His Ilmen Lake heard him; a slight breeze stirred the water, rustled with reeds, and saw Sadko that a swan of flies was floating to the shore. They went ashore and turned into maidens, among them the beautiful princess Volkhov, the beloved daughter of the king of the Sea. Pollinated her wonderful songs Sadko, and she promised gusliar for parting three gold-feather fish that are found in Ilmen Lake, predicted wealth and happiness. Dawn is approaching, from the depths of the lake came the voice of the Sea King, who calls his daughters. The prince of Volkhov and her sisters, once again turning into swans, sailed away from the shore.

Lubava is waiting for her troubled husband. She does not understand his dreams and bitterly complains about fate. Sadko came; with love and care she rushed to him, and he does not want to listen to her: he was bewitched by her beauty Princess Volkhov. Sadko heard the bells ringing, he remembered the promise of the Sea Princess, and he decided to go to the people, to try his luck.

At the Novgorod dock near Ilmen Lake, the people around the overseas trade visitors are crowded. Sadko came here with his cherished thought. Merchants and abbots with buffoons laugh at the gusliar’s story about fish, a wonderful gold-quill that is found in Ilmen-lake; Sadko suggested that they bet. He threw the net into the lake and pulled it with three gold-feather fish, and the small fry turned into gold bars. Sadko became the richest man in Novgorod. He gathered a squad, bought up goods, equipped thirty ships and one ship. Overseas merchants – Varangian, Indian and Vedenese – talk about distant countries, so that Sadko knows where to go. He said goodbye to his wife, the Novgorod people, and the ships sailed to distant unknown lands.

Sadko sailed for twelve years, and one day his ship stopped in the middle of the sea. The Novgorodians understood that the Sea King demands tribute. Shipwrights threw into the sea barrels of gold, silver, pearls – everything is a ship with drooping sails. They began casting lots: one of them requires the king of the sea, and the lot fell Sadko. They threw an oak board on the water, and only Sadko stepped on it, as the wind rose, the sails were filled, and the ship disappeared in the distance.

Sadko was left alone among the blue sea. He struck the strings of his psaltery, and, as if in response, the voices of the daughters of Tsar Morskii and Princess Volkhov were heard. The water became agitated, parted, and the ghuslar sank into the abyss of the sea.

He was in the azure underwater chamber in front of the Tsar Morskoy and Tsarina Vodyanitsa. The tsar ordered Sadko to sing a majestic song, and so he liked the wonderful singing that he offered the gusliar to stay and take the princess Volkhov as his wife. Underwater inhabitants greet young people with merry dances. So Sadko himself took up the harp, and the whole kingdom started into a frenzied dance. At sea the storm arose, the ships began to sink, but the Old Man appeared mighty hero and knocked out the harp from Sadko’s hands with a heavy club. He announced the end of the power of the king of the sea, and his daughter was appointed to become a river. The kingdom of the underwater plunged into the depths of the sea and disappeared, and Sadko with Volkhov in a shell drawn by killer whales, rushed to freedom, to Novgorod.

Sadko fell asleep on the green bank of the Ilmen Lake, lulled by the singing of the Volkhovs. And, just asleep, the sea princess scattered the scarlet morning mist over the green meadow. Sadko woke up hearing the grievous complaints of his wife – Lubava Buslaevna. While they were talking after a long separation, the sun rose, the fog melted, and the Volkhov River opened up to them, and the ships with the Sadko squadron were already running towards Ilmen Lake. People poured out to meet them. Everyone is amazed at the unexpected return of Sadko to the ships, and most of all to the wide Volkhov River, which ran from Ilmen Lake to the blue sea. Sadko told about his wonderful wanderings, and the people praised the guslar, the Volkhov River and the great Novgorod.


“Sadko” is a vivid example of an epic opera, for which a slow, smooth flow of action is characteristic, resurrecting the spirit of ancient epic tales. Musical portraits of the main actors are given in the widely developed vocal numbers, pictures of the people’s life and way of life – in the monumental choral scenes. The music of the opera is full of bright, convex contrasts.

The images of the fairy-tale underwater kingdom, embodied by means of flexible, whimsical melodies and unusual harmonies, are contrasted with the pictures of real people’s life and the images of Russian people, in whose outline the main expressive means is Russian folk songs.

The opera opens with a majestic orchestral introduction “Ocean-blue-blue”.

Scene 1 is a large choral scene full of exuberant fun. Its middle part consists of two episodes: a sedate, unhurried epic Nezhata and a Sadko scene with a chorus in the center of which is his melodious recitative “If I had a gold coffers”, imperceptibly passing into an aria. The painting ends with a mocking and fervent dance of buffoons, which is intertwined with the music of the initial choir.

The second picture alternates fantastic and lyrical scenes. A short orchestral introduction paints a quiet evening on the bank of the Ilmen Lake and prepares the beginning of Sadko’s thoughtful and sad song “Ow, you dark dubravushka.” The choir of the girls of the underwater kingdom with the coloratura singing of the sea princess is sustained in transparent light colors and is full of serene tranquility. Sadko’s animated choral song gives way to a dreamy and pure love duo, in which the echoes of a round-the-clock song are intertwined from time to time. The farewell of Sadko and Volkhov is interrupted by the mysterious signals of the pipes and the calls of the Sea King.

A small orchestral introduction to the third picture precedes the recitative and the aria of Lubava, imbued with deep sadness and melancholy; When Sadko appears, sadness is replaced by a joyful revival. In the next scene, followed by a dreamy, full of love and concern, Lubava’s remarks are contrasted with the dreamy phrases of Sadko; in the orchestra the tunes of Princess Volkhova sound. The decisive recitative of Sadko and the passionate prayer of the abandoned Lubava complete the picture.

The fourth picture is central to the composition of the opera. It consists of two large parts: a monumental choral scene (a market near the pier) and a series of scenes associated with Sadko. In the first part, the mighty choirs of the people, the monotonous singing of the kalik of the passers-by, the mischievous buffoonery of the chanting and the gigantic, the mysterious prophecies of the Magi, the voices of the abbots and the Nezhaty closely intertwined, merging into an unfolded ensemble preparing the appearance of Sadko. There are a number of recitative episodes (a dispute with merchants, fishing), which are crowned with a solemn chorus “Glory, glory to you, young guslar” and a sparkling fanfare leitmotif of gold. Sadko’s appeal to the druzhina and the chorus of the volunteers, sustained in the spirit of a free Russian song, surround the majestic singing of Nezhat “As on the lake on Ilmen.” Severe, the courageous song of the Varangian (Scandinavian) guest is replaced by the contemplative-lyric song of the Indian guest and the bright, flowing melodic stream of the song of Vedenetsky (Italian, the city of Vedenets-Venice) of the guest. Sadko sings the wide-spread Russian song “The height of the sky, the height of the heavens”, which the squad and people are picking up; supported by the orchestra, it grows and grows stronger, leading to a jubilant, mighty conclusion.

Orchestral introduction to the fifth painting draws a sea landscape (the music is the same as in the introduction to the opera). In the choral scene of Sadko with the ship-keepers, conveying their unhappy premonitions, the melody of the song “The Height, Height,” takes on a sad color. Sadko’s aria (farewell to the druzhina) is close to mournful lingering folk tunes. A wide orchestral episode, built on the themes of the sea, goldfish and the Sea King, depicts the sinking of Sadko into the sea abyss (the transition to the next picture).

Painting sixth begins with the chorus of the girls of the underwater kingdom with the participation of the Volkhovs. To the light, majestic song of Sadko “Voices of the Volkhov, the King of the Sea, and his daughters join the Blue Sea menacingly, broadly”. With bright orchestral colors, the “miracle maritime procession” is poured. A joyful wedding song is replaced by colorful dances of small rivers and streams, gold-silver and silver scales. The dance song of Sadko, at first calm, is gradually enlivened, turning into a frenzied general dance. It sounds terrible recitative Starchscha against the backdrop of the powerful chords of the organ. The symphonic development of the musical themes of the sea, in which the voices of Sadko and Volkhov are interwoven, leads to the final, final picture of the opera.

The picture of the seventh opens with a heartfelt, lyrically warm lullaby song of Volkhov. Bright contrast to her sound sad Lubava lamentations, turning into a joyful love duet. Again, the masculine melody of the song “Height, height” (the appearance of ships) is heard, which serves as the basis for a monumental ensemble with a choir, crowning the opera with a powerful, exultant hymn.

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Summary Nikolai Andreevich Rimsky-Korsakov. Sadko