7. Aleko

There aren’t many nineteen-years-olds in our list of Russian opera composers; in fact there’s only one.

Sergei Rachmaninov wrote – apparently in seventeen days! – his single act opera Aleko (Pushkin) as a graduation piece for the Moscow conservatory. Not only did he receive first prize and a gold medal for his efforts but the work was also taken up by the Bolshoi Theatre where its production met with great praise.

Two more one act works – The Miserly Knight (Pushkin) and Francesca da Rimini (Dante) – were to follow fourteen years later, but neither achieved quite the success of his initial effort (The Miserly Knight suffered from its lack of female voices while Francesca da Rimini was overshadowed by the four-act opera of the same name by Riccardo Zandonai).

… hoping your French is up to the sous-titres

… and, if it’s not, here’s a link (thanks John!) to an English libretto.

Vocal score (Russian)