Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka's magical masterpiece in its entirety, inspired by Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin's poem of a Russian tale. An evil sorcerer Chernomor casts a spell over wedding ... See full summary »

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Credited cast:
Mikhail Kit ...
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Vladimir Ognovenko ...
Larissa Diadkova ...
Gennady Bezzubenkov ...
Galina Gorchakova ...
Konstantin Pluzhnikov ...
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Themselves - Orchestra
Mikhail Shtein ...
Marina Tchirkova ...
Naina's Magic Dancer
Olga Volobuyeva ...
Naina's Magic Dancer
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Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka's magical masterpiece in its entirety, inspired by Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin's poem of a Russian tale. An evil sorcerer Chernomor casts a spell over wedding celebrations for Ruslan and Lyudmila at the court of Svetozar, the Prince of Kiev. Lyudmila vanishes and her father promises her hand and half his kingdom to the knight who rescues her. Ruslan on this quest of rescue encounters the knights Ratmir and Farlaf, the wise wizard Finn, the slave of Ratmir, Gorislava and sorceress Naina before confronting Chernomor in his magic garden. After all the challenges for Ruslan, true love prevails. Written by Anonymous

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1 December 1996 (UK)  »

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Version of Ruslan and Ludmila (1972) See more »

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A major but flawed production of a major but flawed opera.
6 October 2004 | by (New York, NY) – See all my reviews

The second of two operas by the Russian composer Mickhail Ivanovich Glinka (the first, usually called "A Life for the Tsar", is the first actual Russian opera.), is here presented in a 1995 production by the Kirov Opera under the ubiquitous Valery Gergiev in association with the San Francisco Opera. (The executive producer, Jane Seymour, appears not to be the well-known actress according to the IMDb.)

The production is mostly sumptuously effective but often oddly misses some major climactic points. However, it generally gives a good accounting of one of the first real Russian operas without which subsequent Russian opera would have been quite different. Tchaikovsky dubbed this "the Tsar of Operas" though Borodin and Rimsky-Korsakov seem closer to its style.

It has everything including a silly story involving the knight Ruslan and his bride the Princess Lyudmila (The young and beautiful Anna Netrebko!) who is kidnapped by an evil sorcerer Chernamor. The opera's remainder deals with her rescue and there are lots of good and bad wizards all over the place. (No, Frank Morgan doesn't appear!) The opera's libretto is by many different hands including Glinka's but based on the work of Pushkin who was killed at an early age in a duel, and who gets a touching tribute in the first act. The results of this hit-or-miss writing of the libretto adds to the ineffectiveness of the opera as drama.

(I don't mean to cast aspersions on Pushkin whose original I haven't read.)

The "acting" is non-existent and consists of pure posturing a la "Alexander Nevsky" (pageant-style) and the costumes are the usual Russian fairy-tale folkloric designs. The dancing is variable but, again, often oddly ineffective. The most interesting part, to me, was the processions and dancing at the court of Chernamor and that brilliant but bizarre music usually excerpted under the title "March of the Wizard".

The singing is sometimes more than serviceable but "slavic" voices often take some getting used to. The DVD has an excellent and informative booklet and a couple of extra features which I haven't seen.

To sum it up: a major but flawed production of a major but flawed opera by "the Father of Russian music", Mickhail Glinka.

7 out of 10.


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