Snegurochka (the Snow Maiden) was born in times of old in Tsar Berendey’s mythical kingdom, the fruit of the union between Spring the Beauty and Grandfather Frost. Protected by her parents from the jealousy of the Sun god Yarilo who has vowed to warm her heart when she gets older and falls in love, Snegurochka the snow maiden is entrusted to the wood sprite… Particularly attached to the opera which he himself considered to be a work of maturity, Rimsky‑Korsakov would write ten years after its creation that: “anyone who fails to love The Snow Maiden understands nothing of my works nor of myself”. A masterpiece of popular Slavic literature, The Snow Maiden brings to the stage a magical fantasy enriched by the rigours of the weather. Aida Garifullina sings the role of Snegurochka whilst the production and musical direction have been left in the capable hands of two other Russian artists: the young conductor Mikhail Tatarnikov and director Dmitri Tcherniakov.
The Snow Maiden, Rimsky-Korsakov’s third opera, draws its focus from playwright Alexander Ostrovsky’s eponymous play, itself inspired from National folk tales. This literary work was quite unexpected, given that Ostrovsky was better known for his political satires rather than his interest in fairy tales. But the composer found a clever way to spin this paradox, and applied himself in turn to reconcile traditional singing with a creative orchestration, bringing together heritage and modernity.
Stage director Dmitri Tcherniakov, a highly regarded specialist in Russian opera, humanizes this marvellous and cruel coming-of-age tale, under the surface of which innocent eroticism and bitter jealousy boil furiously. He also uses this production to draw a parallel between this paradoxical work and the contradictions of modern-time Russia, by transposing the action into an intriguing backward-looking community which, and quite unlike Snowmaiden, does not seem to be quite ready to face the unknown yet…