Opera in four acts (six scenes)
Libretto by AM Fiko and NE Virtha
Natalia, his daughter
Secretary of Lenin
Baritone (high bass)
Peasants, peasant women, partisans, Antonovites, etc.
Venue: Tambov region, the fifth painting – Moscow.
HISTORY OF CREATION
Opera “In a Storm” Khrennikov began composing in 1936 by order of the Theater named after V. Nemirovich-Danchenko. Her libretto, based on the plot of N. E. Virta’s novel “Loneliness”, was developed by AM Fiko with the participation of the writer. Work on opera proceeded in close creative cooperation with the theater staff. VI Nemirovich-Danchenko took an active part in its creation.
Roman Virta “Loneliness” (1935) is devoted to one of the episodes of the Civil War. It describes the events that took place in the Tambov village during the counter-revolutionary revolt of Antonov, of which the writer was an eyewitness. The content of the novel is partially used in the libretto. The central place was taken by dramatic tests of the love of Natasha and Lyonka. The action unfolds against the backdrop of folk scenes
in which the peasant mass is vividly depicted. Its typical representative Frol Baev, the people’s “walker” to Lenin, gradually comprehending the true meaning of events, the great truth of Lenin’s words. The great merit of the authors was the creation of the image of the leader of the revolution, VI Lenin, first shown on the opera stage.
The premiere of the opera took place on May 31, 1939 in Moscow. Not satisfied with the first option, the composer subsequently created a new version of the opera. In this form it was staged in Moscow on October 12, 1952.
In the village of Dvoriki, the songs of walking girls and boys peacefully sound. But around it is restless: Antonov’s gangs are just about to arrive. Local communists led by Lystrat leave with partisan detachment. The fate of Natasha, the daughter of the peasant Frol Baev, is woven with terrible events. She loves Lyonka – Storozhev’s farm laborer and loved by him. But Lyonka does not understand what is happening: together with his master, he joins the Antonovs who enter the village.
In the house of poor Aksinya, Listrat and Lyonka unexpectedly met, two brothers-two enemies. Their collision threatens to spill into a quarrel. But Listrat’s words act soberingly on Lenka. He had long doubted the correctness of the chosen path. In the distance, Storozhev and bandits are shown – Lystrat is in mortal danger. Lyonka hides him in the straw. The Antonovites searched the whole house without result. Pissed off by failure, they pierce the straws hiding the Listrat. For bold words Storozhev furiously whips Lenka with a whip in the face. The bandits are leaving. Aksinya and Lyonka help wounded Listrat get out of hiding. Finally, the enlightened Lenka and his brother leave the village.
Rioters rage in the village. Taking advantage of the reigning iniquity, Storozhev seized the peasant land. Frol, Andrei and other peasants came to Antonov to seek justice, but they were met with insults, bullying. The people are growing in anger and indignation. To deceive the disaffected, Storozhev proposes to give out the corpses of peasants tortured by Antonov, for the victims of the Communists. This plan is carried out by Antonov’s mistress – Kosova. The people are terrified of the terrible spectacle.
Natasha is left alone and alone. For a long time she had not seen Lyonka, and meanwhile there were rumors that he had switched to the Reds. Her fears are confirmed by Storozhev, who reports that Lyonka has betrayed her and married the “commissar”. Deceived Natasha curses Lyonka in despair. She is distraught with grief and thinks of suicide. Suddenly Lyonka appears, sneaking in secret to see his beloved. His arrival brings Natasha an explosion of frenzied anger. But love is stronger than false lies. Natasha calms down in the arms of Lenka; she again believes him.
Frol and Andrei, in search of the truth, went to Moscow for walkers to Lenin. In the Kremlin, they meet Lystrat, who arrived as a delegate to the X Party Congress; Listrat excitedly tells fellow countrymen about the victories of the Red Army. Lenin appears in the waiting room. When he found out that Tambov peasants had come to him, he invited them to him.
Inspired by the meeting with the leader, the walkers return to their native places; they bring to the peasants the words of Lenin’s truth. This causes the anger of the defeated, but not yet annihilated Antonovites. On a dark night Storozhev and Kosovo kill Frol. However, they can not escape: they are caught waiting for retribution for the crimes committed. Lyonka watches over his former master. Taking advantage of the watchful eye, Storozhev wounded him with a knife in the back and escaped. But the bullet, launched by Natasha’s hand, overtakes him. The people celebrate the victory. From now on he is the full owner of his land.
Opera “In the Storm” combines an image of real historical events, wide pictures of the people’s life with a psychologically meaningful characterization of the main characters. Embodying the drama of the personal destinies of the heroes, the composer stressed their inseparable connection with the destinies of the people. One of the main advantages of the opera is the warmth and sincerity of the music.
Overture paints a storm, sweeping over the heroes of the opera, conveys the hardening of a tense struggle.
In the first picture, choral songs alternate with solo numbers. Sincerely sounds the lyrical song of the girls with the choir “I’ll wear a white dress”. Listrat’s aria “Harmony plays, songs are distributed” conveys the alarm and anxiety caused by the terrible situation. Partisan chorus “Build ranks, close units” is endowed with the characteristics of a combat marching song. In the scene and duet Lenka and Natasha expressed a unifying feeling of love.
The music of the second picture develops from thoughtful calm lyrics to intense drama. Motherly love, tenderness infused arioso Aksinya “Flying Falcons.” In the tercite of Aksinya, Lenya and Listrat, humming without words, the mood of meditative sadness and peace reigns.
In the third picture (the second act) a significant place is occupied by mass choral scenes. As a groan of national grief and confusion the chorus “Antonovs have come” sounds. In Antonov’s song with the choir “Whether the sun does not shine, over the head of the fog” prevails moods of tearing and hopelessness. Frol’s aria “For which they outraged me”, creating a sedate image of the old peasant, is full of sorrow and deep drama. In the choir “Cursed Tormentors”, the intonations of wailing a hurried, angry speech sound.
The fourth picture (the third act) is entirely lyrical. Music conveys the growing drama, mental confusion. In the beginning, a female chorus is played, performed behind the scenes (without words). Natasha’s aria “One, One, and One and Only One” wins sincerity of expression of sorrowful feelings. In the scene of Lenka and Natasha, the inner drama of the heroes is exposed; The picture is a simple, artless lullaby of Lenka.
In the fifth picture, Listrat’s march-like song is singled out, endowed with courageous strength and energy.
In the sixth painting (the fourth act) the peasant choir Plowing Now would be in the spirit of a long folk song. In Storozhev’s monologue “People are coming from the north,” the face of an embittered, doomed enemy is depicted. Lazy’s playful, light-hearted song “Because of the forest is shining” is close to the chastushka prikeep. The final chorus of “Let’s Remember Everything”, glorifying the victory of the working people, is solemnly jubilant.
1 The review of music is given according to a new version of the opera.