Bogatïri (‘The Heroic Warriors’)
- Richard Taruskin
(‘The Heroic Warriors’)
Opera-farce in five acts (often designated the ‘first Russian operetta’) by Alexander Porfir’yevich Borodin to a libretto by Viktor Alexandrovich Krïlov ; Moscow, Bol’shoy Theatre, 6/18 November 1867.
The music, about one-quarter original and the rest pastiche, was orchestrated with the assistance of F. F. Büchner, the Bol’shoy’s first flautist, and E. N. Merten, the assistant conductor, who conducted the first performance.
The libretto, by the Russian translator of Orphée aux enfers, is an Offenbachian send-up of Russian heroic legends and chronicles and their stereotyped operatic offshoots, chiefly Verstovsky’s Askold’s Grave and Serov’s recent success Rogneda (but not even Glinka’s Ruslan and Lyudmila was spared). The pastiche component of the music was drawn from a wide variety of sources: Offenbach (Barbe-bleu, Les bavards, La belle Hélène), Meyerbeer (Robert le diable, Le prophète), Rossini (Il barbiere, Semiramide), Verdi (Ernani), Hérold (Zampa...