It’s all hustle and bustle at the Sorochintsy Fair. The operatic and comic rarity by Mussorgsky is for the first time in seventy years back at the Komische Oper and in Berlin – directed by Barrie Kosky and conducted by Henrik Nánási. Enjoy the premiere live on THE OPERA PLATFORM.
All hell is let loose in the small Ukrainian town of Sorochintsy. The young peasant lad Gritsko is in love with beautiful Parasya. Her father Cherevik doesn’t oppose this union, but his wife, Khivrya, has other plans. She wants to marry Parasya off to the priest’s wealthy son, Afanasiy Ivanovich. The story of a devil searching for his red jacket appears to be a welcome opportunity for Gritsko and Parasya to get their happy end.
Modest Mussorgsky starts working on SOROCHINTSY FAIR for some light relief between two ‘heavy-weight’ operas: BORIS GODUNOV and KHOVANSHCHINA. The lightness of the plot, a novella by Nikolai Gogol, inspired the composer write the libretto himself. But the ongoing work for KHOVANSHCHINA and other setbacks such as the death of the bass Osip Petrov, who was due to sing the role of Cherevik, put a halt to the project. Mussorgsky did not complete the opera before his death in 1881. It was not performed until 1911, with additions and changes.
SOROCHINTSY FAIR remains one of Mussorgsky’s lesser known works while the fantasia THE NIGHT ON BALD MOUNTAIN, Gritsko’s ghoulish dream sequence, has become an established part of the orchestral repertoire. The Komische Oper Berlin presented this neglected piece as their second ever premiere in 1948. It has not been performed in Berlin since. Now, almost seventy years later, artistic director Barrie Kosky and outgoing music director Henrik Nánási have decided to revisit the comedic jewel, in the version completed by Vissarion Shebalin from 1932.