THE TAMING OF THE SHREW
Comic opera in four acts (five scenes)
Libretto by A. Gozenpud
Petruccio, a nobleman from Verona
Baptista Manola, rich merchant
Lovers in Bianca
Servants of Petruccio
Biondello, Baptist servant
Guests, servants, cooks and cooks.
Time: the Renaissance.
HISTORY OF CREATION
The plot of Shakespeare’s comedy “The Taming of the Shrew” attracted the attention of the composer soon after the end of the musical comedy “The Bridegroom from the Embassy” (1942). Not surprisingly, in the same genre it was supposed to solve the following work. However, in the process of work, the idea has changed significantly, and the work has acquired the features of a lyric-comic opera.
The play “The Taming of the Shrew” (1593) belongs to the glorified creations of the great English playwright. Very widespread in his time, the story collision Shakespeare revealed in the spirit of affirming the completeness and integrity of the feeling, beauty and dignity of the human person. The humanistic sound of the play attracted Shebalin. The composer and librettist A. Gozenpud strove to convey the brightness of the hero’s sense of life, the atmosphere of the play, full of energy and enthusiasm. The libretto retains the main storylines, a number of secondary characters are withdrawn. Some scenes, the order
of individual episodes were changed: for example, there is no prologue in the opera, a completely new scene of Katarina’s thunder and flight, her final monologue was replaced by a duet of main characters, etc. The text was written anew; from the original source there were only a few sections left – the first duet of Catarina and Petruccio, Petruccio’s monologue in the wedding scene and some others. The author of the libretto managed to convey the color and spirit of the play of Shakespeare, its stylistic originality.
In the center of the opera images of two young people – Katarina and Petruccio. Both of them are outstanding, strong natures, in intelligence and spiritual qualities far superior to those around them. A proud, deeply feeling Katharina painfully experiences her position of “bride-to-be”. Under the mask of obstinacy, she fights for the right to a genuine feeling, for the preservation of female dignity. To match Catherine Petruccio. A brave, courageous adventurer, warrior and navigator, “the doer of his own destiny,” he is not devoid of a shade of adventurism, bravado. And to Katarina he is attracted at first only by the idea of wealth. But captured by a new feeling for him, Petruccio is transformed no less than Katarina. In the place of blunt rectilinearness and cruelty come deep and sincere experiences of a person suffering from unrequited love.
Characteristic features are endowed with other characters: Bianca, under the guise of genteel meekness and humility skillfully hiding her mental callousness and prudence; the sweet-sensitive and weak-willed Lucentio; smug and pompous Hortensio; comically suffering from turmoil in the house of Baptist Manol, and others.
The opera “The Taming of the Shrew” was first performed in 1955 in the concert performance of the ensemble of the Soviet opera of the All-Russian Theatrical Society. The scenic life of the work began with the production in the Kuibyshev Opera House (premiere on May 25, 1957). On August 6 of the same year the opera was shown in Moscow, then in Leningrad, Kiev and other cities of the Soviet Union, as well as abroad.