Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Catherine II: Opera Librettist

The plot thickens.

Perhaps it's time to learn a little Russian.

I found a score for The Early Reign of Oleg, an opera by Vasily Pashkevich, along with Carlo Canobbio and Giuseppe Sarti, with a libretto by Catherine II.

[Sarti's name might ring a bell because Mozart quoted an aria from one of his operas (and identified his quotation) during the last act of Don Giovanni.]

Catherine must have had a serious change of heart concerning music (which she hated when she was young). She wrote eight more libretti, and founded the Imperial Opera and Ballet in St. Petersburg in 1783.

Why does this kind of thing NOT SEEM TO MATTER to regular historians? All Robert Massie seems to care about is intrigue, war, politics, and sex. Doesn't the fact that a woman with the mind of Catherine II might have had a lively musical court and a lively creative inner life? When he writes about Frederick the Great he mentions nothing special about the king's musical life.

Perhaps it's time for me to learn a lot of Russian.

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