1 hour 40 minutes
The Tale of the Dead Princess and the Seven Knights runs on the Second Stage of the theatre, however our Chief Stage Director Vyacheslav Starodubtsev recreated this production following the big Russian opera traditions, so it involves the chorus that renders the action even larger, vivid scenery and historic costumes that bear ancient Russian bylina patterns. The set design comprises works made by the greatest Russian artists Viktor Vasnetsov, Ivan Shishkin, Ivan Bilibin etc. This way the stage transforms into an art show – most famous works are presented either as video projections or replicas exhibited in the halls of the Second Stage. Embark on this fascinating journey into a world of Russian classical music, art, literature and folklore.
The Tale of the Dead Princess and the Seven Knights is Pushkin’s most known fairy tale. It was written in Boldino, Autumn 1833. It is based on a folk tale documented by Pushkin at the Mikhailovskoe village. This being said, the plot of this tale hearkens back to Snow White and the Seven Dwarves by Brothers Grimm. By the time The Dead Princess was created, the Brothers’ tale had already been published widely across Europe, and A.S. Pushkin could have read it. However, the poet presented his own original story that differs from the Grimm’s tale by its plot, characters and language. Pushkin’s work is notable for its poetic language and vivid colors.
Honored Artist of Russia, composer Viktor Vasilievich Pleshak has created a few symphonies, over 900 songs, over a hundred theatrical works including operas, ballets, musicals and numerous academic and variety pieces. “Become popular in my genres – that might be my motto as a professional composer” – Viktor Pleshak’s testament for his creative work. The opera The Tale of the Dead Princess and the Seven Knights was created in 1986, and later in 1989 it premiered on the Novosibirsk stage at the behest of I.A. Zak, the company’s first Chief Conductor. In June 2022 Pleshak’s wonderful opera is coming back to the Novosibirsk stage with renewed scenic and musical design as first part of Pushkiniana, a new project by NOVAT.
The townsfolk have gathered on a central square to see their Tsar off to a war. His Tsarina stays, almost near her time. She feels sick at heart, since she won’t see her “dearest friend” for a while.
One of those nights Tsarina delivers a baby girl. When Tsar returns from war, Tsarina dies on his hands of happiness and exhaustion, leaving him with their little girl.
Soon enough Tsar dries his tears and marries another woman. His new passion is smart and beautiful, but also arrogant and jealous. She has a magic mirror in her possession that talks back to her. Every now and then the new Tsarina asks her mirror whether she is the fairest of all ladies. Each time the mirror admits that Tsarina is the fairest, and her beauty is the rarest.
Meanwhile, the Princess matures and becomes a beautiful young lady. The choice of fiancé lights on prince Yelisei. Tsarina learns that she is not the fairest of all anymore, the title being taken by her step daughter. In a towering rage, she orders her servant to take the girl to the forest and tie her to a tree for the wolves to feed. However, the servant disobeys and leaves the girl in the woods untied.
The court rumors about the missing Princess. Prince Yelisei immediately sets out on a search for his fiancée. He asks the Sun where she might be, but the Sun is unaware, so his search continues…
Meanwhile, the Princess wanders in the forest all alone, until she fortunes upon a tower house. Without fear or doubt she enters the building. The place is inhabited by the seven knights, however at the moment they are absent. The girl cleans the house and makes dinner. On their return the owners welcome the newcomer and offer her to stay as their sister.
Prince Yelisei moves on with his search: he addresses the Moon, but it doesn’t know the whereabouts of the Princess neither. Maybe the Wind knows?
Tsarina speaks again to her beloved mirror and learns that the Princess is alive. Outraged, she swears to scathe the Princess come hell or high water. Dressed as an old lady she sets off to the forest and finds the Princess’ abode. Tsarina gives her step daughter a poisoned apple and vanishes. The Princess bites the apple and dies. The knights bury her in a crystal coffin.
The Prince finally asks the Wind whether it has heard about his fair lady. The Wind says he knows about one dead princess and reveals the way to her location. Prince Yelisei finds the coffin and his Princess lying dead inside of it. She looks as fair as she was alive, so he kisses her and the girl awakes. Together they return home to have a wedding and live happily ever after.