Summary Nikolai Andreevich Rimsky-Korsakov. The Tale of Tsar Saltan


Opera in four acts with a prologue

Libretto by VI Belsky


Tsar Saltan

Queen of Milithris

Weaver, middle sister

Cook, elder sister

Svia Baba Babarha

Tsarevich Guidon

Princess Swan-Bird

Old grandfather





Mezzo soprano









2 nd







Voices of the Sorcerer and Spirits



nobles, courtiers, nannies, clerks, guards, army, sailors, astrologers, hikers, singers, servants and servants, dancers and dancers, people.

Thirty-three sea knights with Uncle Chernomor. Squirrel. Bumblebee.

The action takes place in the city of Tmutarakan, part of the island of Buyan.


The origins of the idea of ​​the opera on Pushkin’s “The Tale of Tsar Saltan” (1831) are not exactly established. There are reasons to believe that this idea was given to Rimsky-Korsakov by VV Stasov. The development of the script began in the winter of 1898-1899. The opera was supposed to be completed by the centenary of the birth of Pushkin (in 1899). In the spring of 1899, the composer began composing music. By the autumn the opera was written, and in January of the following year the work on the score was completed. The premiere of “Tales of Tsar Saltan” was held October 21 (November 2), 1900 on the stage of the Moscow private opera – the Association of Solodovnikovsky Theater. “Saltan” refers to the favorite

composer of a fairy tale genre, but among similar works occupies a boundary position. Behind the unpretentiousness of the plot lies a meaningful meaning. Sunny, full of light humor, this opera recreates the charming features of Pushkin’s cheerful tale. However, under the conditions of Russian reality at the end of the 19th century, a new shade was introduced into The Tale of Tsar Saltan. The soft humor that colors this work acquires in the sketch of the stupid, unlucky king and his court circle the character of unconcealed irony, which anticipates the sharply satirical thrust of the subsequent fairy-tale operas Kuschei the Immortal and the Golden Cockerel of Rimsky-Korsakov.


On a winter evening in a village palace, three sisters sit behind a yarn. The older and the middle brag about their beauty and agility, and the younger one is silent. For meekness and modesty, the sisters consider her a fool and forced to work for herself. They were dreamed of, than each one would be famous if the Tsar took her in marriage. The elder boast of asking an unprecedented feast, the average – alone to weave the canvas on the whole world, and the youngest promised to give birth to the father-son of the hero-son. All this was heard by Tsar Saltan, who lurked under the window. He enters the pinnacle and declares the decision: to live all three in the palace, the elder to be a cook, the middle – a weaver, and the youngest – the tsar’s wife. The Tsar left with his younger sister, while the other two and Babarycha began to consult how to upset the fortune of a lucky fool, and they planned to deceive Saltan.

The king went to war, and in the meantime a young son of Militris was born. Life is flowing peacefully in the wide royal court. Only the queen does not know peace: it disturbs her that for a long time there is no messenger with a return letter from Saltan. In vain Skomorokh tries to make her his jokes; do not amuse her neither the tales of the Old Grandfather, nor the feigned kindness of the sisters who bring her gifts. But here comes the cheeky and talkative messenger; deft conspirators managed, having podpoyv it, to replace Saltanov with the letter. The deacons, in embarrassment, read the order: “To throw the queen and the offspring in a barrel into the abyss of waters.” The people rumble in indecision, but retreat before the threats of triumphant sisters and Babaryhi. A barrel with Militris and the prince are let into the sea.

Deserted shore of the island of Buyan. Here, listening to the entreaties of the queen, the wave carried a barrel. Militris complains plaintively about fate, and the greatly grown up prince merrily frolics, rejoicing in the bright world. Having made an onion, he goes in search of game, but suddenly he notices a huge vulture, who pursues a swan, and kills him with a well-aimed arrow. To the amazement of the queen and the prince, the Swan-bird came out of the sea and spoke in a human tongue. She promised to repay good for good and disappeared. Imperceptibly night came. Mother and son fell asleep. And with the first rays of the morning dawn from the fog, by magic, a city appeared. Under the festive bell ringing and cannon firing from its gates appeared a solemn procession. Gladly greet Gvidona residents of the fairy town of Candy and ask to become their ruler.

Gvidon became a prince, but his longing for his father torments him. He looks with sadness after the ship, which keeps the way to the kingdom of Saltan. At the call of Guidon from the sea appears the Swan-bird. Having learned the cause of his sorrow, she turns the prince into a bumblebee so that he can catch up with the ship and see his father.

The ship sailed to the Saltan’s kingdom. The king invites the ship-owners to visit, treats them and inquires about the miracles that they saw, traveling in white light. The boatmen talk about the magical appearance of the city of Candy on a desert island, about the squirrel gnawing golden nuts, about thirty-three sea knights and about the glorious mighty prince of Guidon, the ruler of this city. Saltan is surprised; he wants to visit a wonderful city; worried Weaver and Cook dissuade him. Babaricha tells about a miracle, which is not in the city of Ledentse – about the overseas princess of indescribable beauty. Frustrated by the machinations of the conspirators, the bumblebee shakes them in turns and, after provoking a general commotion, flies away.

Again sad Gwydon wanders by the sea. The story of Babarikhi does not go from his memory. In anguish calls Gvidon the Swan-bird and, telling her about his passionate love for the unknown beauty, asks to help him. The excitement of Guidon touches the Swan-a bird, and it turns into a beautiful Princess, whom he so passionately dreamed of. The Queen of Milithris blesses the young couple.

In joyful impatience, Gvidon and Militris await the arrival of Saltan. At last the fleet appeared in the distance. Under the bell ringing and greetings of the people, the king and his entourage enter the palace. The miracles of the city of Candy begin. Before the astonished gaze of the king and guests, a magic squirrel appears in the crystal house, thirty-three sea heroes pass by, the beautiful princess Swan is shown, and finally the beloved Saltanova’s wife is the queen of Militris. The king with tears embraces her and her son, in joys forgives envious sisters. A violent feast begins.


“The Tale of Tsar Saltan” – one of the most sunny works of opera literature. Her music, illuminated by cloudless joy and mild humor, flows easily and at ease. It recreates the naive simplicity and freshness of folk art. Music is full of melodic turns and intricate rhythms of folk songs and dances. A significant role in the opera is played by symphonic episodes in which the principles of programability are consistently applied. These episodes are organically included in the stage action, complement it.

Throughout the whole opera, a festive fanfare cry is repeated; he appears at the beginning of each picture as an appeal: “Listen, look! The view begins!”. Opens them and the introduction of the opera, which takes the place of the overture. The song of the elder and middle sisters, composed in the national spirit, flows serenely. In the tie-up conversation, Babarykhi’s grumbling remarks and the sisters’ tattered tongue-twisters are answered by the broad lyrical melody of Militris. A rough-pompous march and resolute vocal phrases depict the face of a wayward tsar.

The first act is preceded by a march-like orchestral introduction, to which an epigraph from the Pushkin fairy tale is preordained:

In those days the war was.

King Saltan, with his wife,

On the good horse sitting down,

She punished herself

Save it, loving it.

The action begins with a calm lullaby, based on a genuine folk melody; during the act, it repeats several times, passing a leisurely measured course of life. A humorous dialogue between Skomorokh and the Old Grandfather is imbued with the humor of popular jokes. The appearance of the prince is accompanied by the melody of the children’s folk song “Ladushki”. The first half of the act ends with a welcoming chorus of the people. His second half is a free alternation of solo and choral episodes, among which the plaintive arioso of Militris “In the girls is sisheno.” The act ends with a mournful lamentation of the choir.

The orchestral introduction to the second act, drawing a picture of the sea, conveys the content of the poetic epigraph that was preordained to him:

In the blue sky the stars shine,

In the blue sea waves are whipping;

A cloud in the sky is coming,

A barrel swims along the sea.

Like a bitter widow,

Crying, beating in her the queen;

And the child grows there

Not by days, but by the hour.

In the opening scene of the second scene, Militris’s woeful lamentations are highlighted by the Tsarevich’s lively remarks. Arioso Swans “You, Prince, my Savior” combines a lyrically charming song melody with flexible, moving melodic turns. The second half of the act is a well-developed scene full of joyful excitement.

A brief orchestral introduction to the third act depicts the seascape. In the center of the first picture is the duet of Gwydon and Swans, ending with the symphonic episode “Flight of the Bumblebee”.

In the second picture there is a lot of movement, ensemble episodes, the music is permeated with lively folk melodies and rhythms. The final scene of turmoil, where the words “All bumble bees from this time do not let on the royal court” there is a bellicose melody of the march of Saltan, marked by genuine comic.

The central episode of the first picture of the fourth act is a duet; the excited, passionate speeches of Guidon are answered by the calm, affectionate phrases of Swans. The scene of the transformation is accompanied by a short orchestral intermezzo, in which the melody of the princess of Swans sounds like a triumphant song, close to the song of the national song “At feast was”. The same melody lies at the heart of the enthusiastic duo of Gwydon and Swan.

The last picture of the opera is preceded by a large symphonic introduction “Three Miracles”, the content of which is revealed in a poetic epigraph (according to Pushkin):

The island lies on the sea,

Grad on the island is

With gold-domed churches,

With teremas and gardens.

In the city, life is not bad.

Here are three miracles:

There is protein there that, for all

Gold gnaws a nut,

The emerald takes out,

And he gathers the shell,

Heaps equal puts

And with a whistling sings

With honest with all the people –

“In the garden, in the garden.”

And the second in the city is amazing:

The sea will swell violently,

He will boil, raise his howl,

Rushing to the shore is empty,

Will be cut off in a noisy race,

And stay on the Breguet,

In the scales, like the heat of grief,

Thirty-three heroes.

Third: there is a princess,

That you can not lend an eye:

In the daytime the light of God overshadows,

At night the earth illuminates;

A month under the scythe glitters,

And in the forehead the star burns.

I was there; honey, beer saws –

And his mustache just wet.

In the symphonic introduction, each other is replaced by the festive fanfare, the bell theme of the city of Candy, the gracefully orchestrated melody of the folk song “In the garden, in the garden,” the courageous march that characterizes the sea knights, and the charming tunes of the princess Swans; all of them are weaved into an enchanting sparkling sound pattern. The music of the introduction is filled with energy, light and unrestrained jubilation, prevailing in the last picture of the opera. A cheerful welcome choir sets in motion. Again the musical characteristics of the wonders of the city of Candy pass, this time with the participation of the choir and soloists. The love duet of Militris and Saltan conveys a sense of completeness of happiness. The choral conclusion of the picture is permeated with provocative chastushka rhythms, lively chants;

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Summary Nikolai Andreevich Rimsky-Korsakov. The Tale of Tsar Saltan