Composer’s libretto in cooperation with S. N. Rimskaya-Korsakova after E. M. Petrovsky
Music Director and Conductor: Evgeny Volynsky
Stage Director, author of artistic concept: Vyacheslav Starodubtsev
Production designer (scenery and costumes): Timur Gulyaev
Lighting Designer: Sergei Skornetsky
Video content: Vadim Dulenko
Stage movement: Sergei Zakharin
Chief Chorus Master: Vyacheslav Podyelsky
Chorus Master: Sergei Tenitilov
Conductor: Eldar Nagiev
Assistant Director: Nikolay Natsybulin
Stage movement assistant: Anna Ryabukhina
Evil and powerful sorcerer holding death in his arms, making plants decay with his single glance – Kashchey the Deathless is truly terrifying. He’s holding captive Princess Beloved Beauty while showing no fear of meeting her sweetheart Prince Ivan Korolevich, because his death is safely kept with Kashcheevna, the sorcerer’s daughter. She hid it into the safest place possible – her tear drop. No one has ever seen her tears, for her heart is harder than stone. Princess begs Kashchey to see her sweetheart and he takes pity on her giving the poor thing a magic mirror capable of showing both past and future. Just for the fun of it, Kashchey peeks into the mirror as well only to see his end.
Kashchey the Deathless (1902) is one of the most significant operatic tales of Nikolay Andreevich Rimsky-Korsakov. The narrative about Kashchey’s realm and the Princess languishing in durance vile was drawn from Russian folk tales and then revised by music critic and writer Evgeny Petrovsky. Abundantly symbolic text was suggested to the composer as a libretto for his work. However, Rimsky-Korsakov declined the “cosmic” interpretation of Russian epic tale and despite the opera score being almost ready, wrote his own libretto. He moved the characters into a more “mundane”, yet still magical circumstance, and imbued them with “humane” emotions. “Autumn fairy-tale” drags you into Kashchey’s somber world, a battlefield for good and evil.
It’s a dull autumn. Kashchey’s realm looks cheerless and gloomy. Princess Beloved Beauty is languishing in durance vile. Against her will she was separated from her intended, Ivan Korolevich. Dark thoughts are crawling into her mind filling it with sorrow: “Or maybe you abandoned me, my hero, and your heart belongs elsewhere?” Princess begs Kashchey to grant her a chance to see her sweetheart once again. He tells her to look into the magic mirror. She sees Kashchey’s beauty of a daughter next to Ivan Korolevich. Just for the fun of it, Kashchey peeks into the mirror as well and suddenly sees his end.
Long time ago Kashchey used his magic to hide his death into his daughter’s tear drop. But no one has ever seen her cry, since Kashcheevna’s heart is harder than stone. However, evil sorcerer is feeling apprehensive. He sends Storm Knight to check on his daughter and find out whether she’s still keeping his death safe. Princess also asks Storm Knight for help; she wants him to find her intended and tell him about her imprisonment. Storm Knight heads to thrice-tenth kingdom. Kashchey calls Princess to lull him to sleep.
Thrice-tenth Kingdom. Moonlit night Kashcheevna walks into a field of poppy and henbane with a cup of magic potion. She knows that Ivan Korolevich is about to arrive, this potion is made for him. Anyone who drinks it will fall asleep and face their death by Kashcheevna’s sword. Ivan Korolevich empties the cup to the bottom as the image of his Princess wraps in mist. Mesmerized he’s staring at Kashcheevna before drifting off. She raises her sharp sword upon him but stumbles for a moment, fascinated by the image of sleeping Korolevich. Storm Knight springs up out of nowhere to dispel Kashcheevna’s charms. Woken out of his trance Ivan Korolevich rushes to Kashchey’s realm alongside Storm Knight. Kashcheevna is heading the same direction …
Kashchey’s realm. The sorcerer is sleeping blissfully in his chamber while the Princess is singing an ominous lullaby: “Sleep, sorcerer, pass to your eternal sleep, let your death find you!” Storm Knight brings Ivan Korolevich to Kashchey’s realm. Korolevich attempts to rescue the Princess, but Kashcheevna is blocking the way. Her heart is suddenly weakened with love. She begs the brave man to stay with her promising to set the Princess free. To everyone’s surprise the Princess shows mercy to Kashchey’s daughter. A previously unexperienced feeling emerges in Kashcheevna as she starts crying and turning into a beautiful weeping willow. Her tears bring Kashchey’s death... Storm Knight opens the gates out of Kashchey’s realm – Ivan Korolevich and the Princess are heading towards love and freedom.