- Julian Budden
Opera in three acts by Umberto Giordano to a libretto by Luigi Illica ; Milan, Teatro alla Scala, 19 December 1903.
The action takes place in Russia and Siberia during the 1850s. Act 1 opens in a palace in St Petersburg where the demi-mondaine Stefana (soprano) has been installed by her latest protector, Prince Alexis (tenor). Stefana is awaited by her anxious housekeeper Nikona (mezzo-soprano). When Alexis arrives with two friends, Nikona tells them that her mistress is still asleep, whereupon they sing her a ...