Semyon Kotko

 

Prokofiev Semyon Kotko opera to a libretto by Prokofiev and Valentin Katayev. Directed 2013 by Yuri Alexandrov at Mariinsky II in Saint Petersburg. Stars Viktor Lutsyuk (Semyon Kotko), Lyubov Sokolova (Semyon's mother), Varvara Solovyova (Frosya), Evgeny Nikitin (Remeniuk), Gennady Bezzubenkov (Tkachenko), Tatiana Pavlovskaya (Sofya), Nadezhda Vassilieva (Khivrya), Roman Burdenko (Tsaryov), Olga Sergeeva (Lyubka), Grigory Karasev (Ivasenko), Stanislav Leontyev (Mikola), and Anbri Popov (Klembovsky). Valery Gergiev conducts the Mariinsky Orchestra and Chorus. Sets by Semyon Pastukh; costumes by Galina Solovieva; lighting by Gleb Filshtinsky. Directed for TV by Anna Matison. Package has both (1) a DVD disc and (2) a Blu-ray disc with 48kHz/24-bit sound presented in 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

According to Operabase, Russia has the third largest opera market in the world (after Germany and the USA). In a recent year, Moscow had the most operas of any city anywhere and Saint Petersburg was #4. There are many worthly Russian operas that Westerners know little or nothing about. Semyon Kotko is a rare item because it's a Stalin-era propaganda opera that maybe is good enough to have a life of its own (one of several operas Prokofiev wrote before being allowed to leave Russia). I don't usually do this, but here's a synopsis quoted from Wikipedia:

The newly established Bolshevik government has reached peace with the Germans, but some of their forces still occupy the territory. The advancing Red Army is hampered by Ukrainian nationalists and the remaining Germans. Semyon, a demobilized soldier and prominent young man in his village, is hoping to marry Sofya, daughter of the wealthy Tkachenko. The latter hopes to restore the old order and plots with loyalist elements and Germans to undermine the revolution and to thwart Semyon's marital intentions. In the end, Semyon, after Tkachenko's intrigues have cost the lives of two friends, is reunited with Sofya, and Tkachenko is arrested and executed leaving behind the merry chorus of the Red Army.

The videographer Anna Matison is a new-comer to us (also did The Left-Hander). She's a young polymath who happens to be a knock-out. I know this is unprofessional, but I couldn't resist showing you a picture of Matison:

matison2015.jpg
 

Fine-arts videos coming out of Russia tend to be expensive and vary a lot in quality. Let's hope these latest offerings on the Mariinsky label are ready to meet their market.