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English libretto for Mussorgsky's Sorochinsty Fair


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Author Topic: English libretto for Mussorgsky's Sorochinsty Fair  (Read 244 times)
calyptorhynchus
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« on: September 06, 2017, 09:05:06 am »

I recently bought the Brilliant classics version this opera and loved it, but there was no English libretto. I downloaded the score, so I could follow the music and of course the Russian text was there, but I can't read Russian.

I searched for an English libretto without success, but I did find a French libretto which I have now translated. So here are the French and English alongside each other:

http://www.mediafire.com/file/yrqdsjwo8r50tq0/Sorochintsy_Fair.docx

If anyone who knows French would care to point out any mistranslations, or if anyone who knows Russian would care to point out where the French (and my English) are far from the original, then I would be very grateful.
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calyptorhynchus
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« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2018, 09:24:26 am »

I got a couple of suggestions from readers, and from readers on another forum. I have now placed a revised version as a download from the Wikipedia page on the opera.
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Neil McGowan
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« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2018, 11:20:24 am »

A big problem with Sorochintsky Fair (and indeed, with almost all of Musorgsky's stage works) is that Mussorgsky's mercurial personality made him an inveterate 'tinkerer' (continuosly revising, rewriting, re-ordering, deleting) with his own works, whilst simultaneously never being able to reach a 'finished' version which satisfied him. (In some works, such as Boris Godunov, he ran foul of the official censors, too - who demanded further rewrites, excisions, and so forth - mostly with respect to the version of the libretto used).

Musorgsky never completed Sorochintsky Fair, and it was never performed in his lifetime. Although he left reams of unfinished musical material, it's not clear how the different sections fit together, nor even in which order they should be performed. For example, many theatrical directors have wanted a 'big festive number' to end the work, so they close with a reprise of the Hopak - but there is no final number in Musorgsky's musical material. Of course, it's a jovial number to end with - but we have no idea if Musorgsky intended this (and given that he never wrote a finale, we can assume he probably didn't... as it would have been easy enough to mark the existing number to be repeated at the end). Similarly, we don't know which order the dramatic scenes should come in.  We have no idea how the censors would have reacted to the idea of an oafish and greedy priest's son, for example?  Composers as diverse as Cui and Shebalin have attempted reconstructions... sometimes using bits and pieces of other Musorgsky works to fill in the gaps (something which MM himself did extensively). Another alternative has been to add spoken dialogue to cover the unwritten sections.

This all makes it difficult to create a libretto for work which has survived in such an elastic, unclear, and incomplete form, sadly.  But bravo for trying!  It's a fine work, and deserves to be better known. Khivrya is a super character - an authentic Russian Nora Batty.  Here's Kseniya Vyaznikova in fine broom-swinging form, at the Pokrovsky Chamber Opera, Moscow, in 2001 - and Valentin Dubovsky as the tenor hero.

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calyptorhynchus
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« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2018, 05:29:45 am »

I just translated a French libretto for the Shelabin version, which seems to work very well. This is the version recorded in the most recent two recordings, the Melodyia one you can find on Youtube and the Brilliant Classics version.

I actually like to the ending of this version, the betrothal ceremony, then a brief hopak and chorus and everybody just leaves and I imagine the stage just filled with bright summer morning sunlight.
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Neil McGowan
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« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2018, 07:17:29 am »

Great!  The Shebalin version has a lot going for it - and in the absence of a finale by the composer, a hopak will do fine  Cool
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