Glinka – Ruslan und Ludmila

A classical fairytale: the daughter of the Great Prince of Kiev is abducted by an evil wizard and is then rescued by the hero of the story. The opera was composed between 1837 and 1842 and went in premiere in 1842 in St Petersburg.

The story goes that the plot was created by the poet Konstantin Bakhturin in as little as fifteen minutes, while drunk. Maybe that is just a story, to explain why the opera suffers from considerable dramatic gaps. What it lacks in dramatic consistency, it more than makes up for in musical quality. It sounds like an Italian opera, mixed with Russian folk tunes.

Glinka is the first Russian composer to bring the western style of classical music in the country. He had a tremendous influence on every Russian composer that came afterward, especially on a group of composers called The Mighty Five. These were the five composers that shaped Russian music in the nineteenth century: Balakirev, Cui, Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov and Borodin.

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