Summary Sergey Vasilievich Rachmaninoff. Aleko


Opera in one act

Libretto by V. I. Nemirovich-Danchenko



Young Gypsy


The old man (Zemfira’s father)

The Old Gypsy








A month before the final exam on the composition class, Rachmaninov received the assignment to write a thesis work – an opera on the libretto of V. I. Nemirovich-Danchenko (1858-1943) based on A. Pushkin’s poem “The Gypsies”. The proposed plot captivated the composer; The opera was written in the shortest possible time – 17 days, which indicated the outstanding skill and talent of the nineteen-year-old author. The examining committee gave Rakhmaninov the highest mark;

the name of the composer was recorded on a marble score board. The opera premiere, which took place on April 27 (May 9), 1893 in the Moscow Bolshoi Theater, was a success. PI Tchaikovsky, who was present at the performance, spoke warmly of her.

In the libretto of the opera Pushkin’s poem is greatly reduced, in places it is changed. Action immediately introduces a dramatically tense situation. Adhering to the Pushkin thought, the librettist stressed the main conflict – the clash of free, far from the civilized world of gypsies with the proud and lonely Aleko. Running out of the “captivity of the stuffy cities,” dreamed of finding a spiritual rest in the steppes under the hospitable shelter of nomads, he, however, is marked by the curse of his society. Grief brings Aleko to Gypsies who shelter him. Characteristic of the emotional experiences of Aleko the composer paid the main attention.


On the bank of the river is a gypsy camp. Evening. Among the gypsies Aleko; already two years, as he left the secular society and roams along with the gypsies. Aleko and the young Zemfira fell

in love with each other, but soon she cooled to him. Old father Zemfira remembers the days of youth and his unhappy love. Only a year was Mariyula loyal to him. Leaving her little daughter, she went to another. Aleko can not understand why the gypsy did not avenge the traitor; he himself, without hesitation, would even push the sleeping enemy into the abyss. But Zemfira and her secret lover, the Young Gypsy, think differently: love is free! Sadness, inspired by the story of the old man, gypsies want to dispel merry dances. During the dance, Zemfira and the Young Gypsy are hiding. A tormenting jealousy flares up in Aleko’s soul. He spends the night in painful meditation. It’s brightening. Behind the mound Zemfira bids farewell to the Young Gypsy. She is in a hurry. But Aleko is already here. In vain he tries to return the love of Zemfira. Obede jealousy Aleko kills lovers. The noise comes from the gypsies. Father Zemfira, and together with him the whole camp require that the murderer leave them. It was morning. Tabor starts to move. Aleko is desperate, he is alone again.


“Aleko” is a chamber lyric-psychological opera with intense dramatic action. Images of the heroes of the drama appear against the backdrop of picturesque paintings of nature and gypsy life. The music of the opera is conquered by sincerity of expression and melodic generosity.

In orchestral introductions melodies of flutes and clarinets, fanned with purity and calm, are contrasted with a gloomy, sinister motif connected in opera with the image of Aleko. Choir “As the freedom of our oars is overnight” is imbued with a serene lyrical mood. The story of the old man “The magic power of the song” is marked by nobility and wise simplicity. Bright colors, temperamental rhythms are introduced into music by a gypsy dance; in the female dance a smooth, restrained movement is replaced with a cheerfully animated movement; the male dance, based on a genuine gypsy melody, ends with a violent, violent dance. In subsequent numbers of the opera, the drama begins to expand rapidly. Zemfira’s song “An old husband, a formidable husband” outlines her character, strong and passionate, self-willed and defiant. Cavatina Aleko “The entire camp is asleep” creates a romantic image of the hero, tormented by anguish of jealousy; when you remember the love of Zemfira, a broad and charmingly beautiful melody arises. Orchestral intermezzo paints a poetic picture of the dawn. Romance of the Young Gypsy “Look, under the distant vault”, written in the waltz movement, is imbued with a joyful feeling of fullness of life. At the time of the fateful denouement, a melodious melody of Aleko’s loneliness sounds.

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Summary Sergey Vasilievich Rachmaninoff. Aleko