- Richard Taruskin
Opera-bïlina (operatically treated heroic ballad) in three or five acts (seven scenes, to be grouped 1–2/3–4/5–6–7 or 1/2–3/4/5–6/7) by Nikolay Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov to his own libretto, compiled from the bïlina ‘Sadko, bogatïy gost’’ (‘Sadko, the Rich Trader’) and other ancient ballads and tales with the assistance of Vladimir Vasil’yevich Stasov, Vasily Yastrebtsev, Nikolay Shtrup, Nikolay Findeyzen and Vladimir Nikolayevich Bel’sky; Moscow, Solodovnikov Theatre, 26 December 1897/7 January 1898 (Savva Mamontov’s Private Russian Opera).
Sadko was a historical figure, a wealthy member of a seafaring commercial guild of old republican Novgorod, who in 1167 dedicated a church to St Boris and St Gleb, the first martyrs of the Orthodox Church. He became a legendary figure in the great Novgorod cycle of bardic narratives (bïlinï) recovered and recorded by folklorists in the far north of Russia in the 18th and 19th centuries. In most versions, Sadko starts out as a humble ...