“Eugene Onegin” by Pyotr Tchaikovsky and “Rusalka” by Alexander Dargomyzhsky: Dramaturgical Parallels

“Eugene Onegin” by Pyotr Tchaikovsky and “Rusalka” by Alexander Dargomyzhsky: Dramaturgical Parallels

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Keywords: Pyotr I. Tchaikovsky, Nikolay D. Kashkin, Alexander S. Dargomyzhsky, Aleksandеr S. Pushkin, “Eugene Onegin”, “Rusalka”, scenario, libretto, composition and dramaturgy of the opera, idea of happiness.

Author: Vladimir V. Goryachikh

About the author

ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4209-7771
SPIN-код: 7014-8054
e-mail: goryachih@mail.ru

PhD (Arts, 1999), Associate Professor at the Music Theory Department at the Saint Petersburg Rimsky-Korsakov State Conservatory

2 liter A Glinki St., St. Petersburg 190068, Russia

Associate Professor at the History of West-European and Russian Culture at the Institute of History at the Saint Petersburg State University

5 Mendeleevskaya liniya, St. Petersburg 199034, Russia

Submitted on: 28.01.2020

Published on: 15.05.2020


The article represents the first attempt in Russian musicology to explore dramaturgical parallels between the operas “Eugene Onegin” by Pyotr Tchaikovsky and “Rusalka” by Alexander Dargomyzhsky from the point of view of the plot, main characters images, libretto dramaturgy, and musical composition. The details provided include littleknown information on Tchaikovsky's attitude to “Rusalka”. Dramaturgical intersections of Dargomyzhsky’s opera with Alexander Pushkin’s novel “Eugene Onegin”, which, in turn, could attract Tchaikovsky’s attention at the first stage of composing the opera, are considered. In this regard, the history of creation of the initial scenario of “Eugene Onegin” and participation of the music critic Nikolay Kashkin therein are carefully reconstructed, details of the composer’s private life being addressed. A hypothesis is proposed about a possible influence of Dargomyzhsky’s “Rusalka” on the dramaturgic idea of the Tchaikovsky’s opera, revealing a number of parallels in the plot and situational parallels between the two operas. The dramaturgy and compositional scheme of the first two acts of “Rusalka” and “Eugene Onegin” are consistently compared, including the development of the conflict; the techniques of reprise and inversion in relation to the first act are discovered, which unify the third act of the Tchaikovsky’s opera and the fourth act of the Dargomyzhsky’s opera. Two interrelated ideas in the dramaturgy of the both operas are considered as the denouement: it is impossible to replace happiness and it is impossible to return lost happiness.

Works Cited

Asaf ’ev, Boris V. (1954). “ ‘Evgeniy Onegin.’ Liricheskie stseny P. I. Tchaikovskogo” [“ ‘Eugene Onegin.’ Lyric scenes by Pyotr I. Tchaikovsky”]. In Izbrannye trudy [Selected works] : in 5 vols. Vol. 2: Izbrannye raboty o P. I. Tchaikovskom, A. G. Rubinsteine, A. K. Glazunove, A. K. Lyadove, S. I. Taneeve, S. V. Rachmaninove i drugikh russkikh kompozitorakh [Selected works on Pyotr I. Tchaikovsky, Anton G. Rubinstein, Alexander K. Glazunov, Anatoliy K. Lyadov, Sergey I. Taneev, Sergey V. Rachmaninov and other Russian composers], ed. by Vladimir V. Protopopov & Elena M. Orlovа. Moscow : Izdatel’stvo Akademii nauk SSSR, рр. 73–141 (in Russian).

Bryullova, Alina I. (1973). “Pyotr I. Tchaikovsky.” In Vospominaniya o Tchaikovskom : sb. st. [Memories of Tchaikovsky : Collection of articles], ed. by Evgeniya E. Bortnikova, Kseniya Yu. Davydova, Galina A. Pribegina. 4th ed. Moscow : Muzyka, рр. 123–139 (in Russian).

Goryachikh, Vladimir V. (2006). “ ‘Rusalka’ A. S. Dargomyzhskogo. K istorii syuzheta i libretto opery” [“The Rusalka” by Alexander Dargomyzhsky. To the story of the plot and the libretto of the opera]. In Vestnik of Saint Petersburg University. History, Issue 1 (2006), рp. 39–46 (in Russian).

Kashkin, Nikolay D. (1954a). Vospominaniya o P. I. Tchaikovskom [Memories of Pyotr I. Tchaikovsky], ed. by Semen I. Shlifshteyn. Moscow : Gosudarstvennoe muzykal’noe izdatel’stvo, 225 p. (in Russian).

Kashkin, Nikolay D. (1954b). “P. I. Tchaikovsky. Opyt kharakteristiki ego znacheniya v russkoy muzyke” [Pyotr I. Tchaikovsky. The experience of characterizing its significance in Russian music]. In Izbrannye stat’i o P. I. Tchaikovskom [Selected articles on Pyotr I. Tchaikovsky], ed. by Semen I. Shlifshteyn. Moscow : Gosudarstvennoe muzykal’noe izdatel’stvo, рp. 27–43 (in Russian).

Pekelis, Mikhail S. (1973). A. S. Dargomyzhskiy i ego okruzhenie [Alexander Dargomyzhsky and his entourage] : in 3 vols. Vol. 2: 1845–1857. Moscow : Muzyka, 416 p. (in Russian).

Tchaykovskiy, Pyotr I. (1953). Muzykal’no-kriticheskie stat’i [Music critical articles]. Moscow: Muzgiz, 437 p. (in Russian).

Tchaykovskiy, Pyotr I. (1961). Literaturnye proizvedeniya i perepiska [Literary works and correspondence] : in 17 vols. Vol. 6: Pis’ma 1876–1877 [Letters 1876–77], ed. by Nina A. Viktorova & Boleslav I. Rabinovich. Moscow : Muzgiz, 397 p. (in Russian).

Tematiko-bibliograficheskiy ukazatel’ sochineniy P. I. Tchaikovskogo (2006) [Thematic and bibliographical catalogue of Pyotr I. Tchaikovsky’s works], ed. by P. Vaydman, L. Korabel’nikova, V. Rubtsova. Moscow : P. Yurgenson, 1107 p. (in Russian).

Ugryumova, Tat’yana S. (1973). “Rol’ oper Dargomyzhskogo v formirovanii russkoy liricheskoy opery” [“The role of Dargomyzhsky operas in the formation of the Russian lyric opera”]. In Nauchno-metodicheskie zapiski [Scientific and methodological notes], Issue 1, Ufa State Institute of Arts; ed. by Leonid M. Pyatykh. Ufa : Bashkirskoe knizhnoe izdatel’stvo, рp. 66–85 (in Russian).

Vaydman, Polina Е. (1988). Tvorcheskiy arkhiv P. I. Tchaikovskogo [Creative archive of Pyotr I. Tchaikovsky]. Moscow : Muzyka, 175 p. (in Russian).

For citation: Goryachikh, Vladimir V. “ ‘Eugene Onegin’ by Pyotr Tchaikovsky and ‘Rusalka’ by Alexander Dargomyzhsky: Dramaturgical Parallels.” In Opera musicologica, vol. 12, no. 2 (2020), pp. 6–24 (in Russian).
DOI: 10.26156/OM.2020.12.2.001.