Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky

The Sorceress (The Enchantress), opera

    Description by "Blue" Gene Tyranny

    "Charodeyka" (The Enchantress, sometimes mistranslated as The Sorceress) (1887) is an opera in 4 acts, with a libretto by Ippolit Vasil'yevich Shpazhinsky. The action, based on a typical costume melodrama of the period of Alexander III, is quite overstuffed with minor characters, anecdotal detours, and far too many words.

    Prince Nikita Kurlyatev, vice-regent of Nizhnïy Novgorod, and his son Yury are both infatuated with Kuma, a "well-preserved" widow (and "everybody's girlfriend") who runs an inn. The puritanical deacon Mamïrov wants to shut the place down and brings the Prince there to make his case. Kuma resists the Prince's advances, while reciprocal feelings of love develop between Kuma and Yury with some genuinely touching music. They make a plan to elope. Yury's mother, the Princess, visits a wizard in the forest and obtains a poison which she administers to Kuma who dies in Yury's arms. The Prince, hearing of the elopement plan, becomes insanely jealous, will not believe that Kuma is dead, and instead kills his son. When he learns the truth he becomes insane. We hear the wizard's eerie laughter through a raging storm.

    Tchaikovsky produces an abundance of folk melodies with interesting accompaniments and lyric lines that shape the scenes subtlely, gradual building toward climaxes. There is something like the so-called "kuchkist" declamatory style of Mussorgsky, for example, in the character of the wizard who is accompanied by the well-recognized "demonic" tritone, but the opera is really not of this sort.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2011 Melodiya MELCD 1001811
    2002 Preiser Records 90503