Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka (1804-1857) was the first Russian composer to earn international fame in the world of European classical music. His work reflected the early Romantic icons of his era – he admired Berlioz, Bellini and Mendelssohn. He traveled throughout Europe and visited Liszt. He studied Russian liturgical and folk melodies and incorporated them into his writing, beginning with his second opera, Ruslan and Ludmila (1842).
Ruslan and Ludmila is based on an epic fairy tale by Pushkin. Set in medieval Kiev and mythical realms, it tells of the abduction of Ludmila and her rescue by her suitor Ruslan, with the aid of a gigantic talking head, a kindly wizard, and a great deal of stage magic. In Dolci’s performance the transcription of the opera score for oboe and piano is by G. Konrada.
Ludmila’s Cavatina from Act 1
At Ruslan and Ludmila’s wedding feast, Ludmila tells her father she is afraid bad things are about to happen. She has no idea. A crash of thunder, a blinding flash, the stage goes dark, and when the lights come up she has vanished, abducted by the giant Chernomor. Ruslan sets off to rescue her.
Dances from Act 3
In the mad sorceress Naina’s castle, captive maidens perform exotic dances to distract the knights who are searching for Ludmila.
The Mariinsky Ballet has published a video of these dances, conducted by Valery Gergiev, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYqjQiFgn9g.