Not Russian Enough?
Nationalism and Cosmopolitanism in Nineteenth-Century Russian Opera
By (author) Rutger Helmers
Publication date:01 December 2014
Length of book:250 pages
PublisherUniversity of Rochester Press
In the nineteenth century, Russian composers and critics were encouraged to cultivate a national style to distinguish their music from the dominant Italian, French, and German traditions. Not Russian Enough? explores this aspiration for a nationalist musical tradition as it was carried out in the cosmopolitan world of opera. Rutger Helmers analyzes the cultural context, music, and reception of four important operas: Glinka's A Life for the Tsar (1836), Serov's Judith (1863), Tchaikovsky's The Maid of Orléans (1881), and Rimsky-Korsakov's The Tsar's Bride (1899). He discusses such issues as the influence of Italian and French opera, the use of foreign subjects, the application of local color, and the adherence to the classics, and considers how these related to a sense of "Russianness." Besides yielding new insights for each of these works, this study offers a fresh perspective on the function of nationalist thought in the nineteenth-century Russian opera world.. Rutger Helmers is Assistant Professor in Historical Musicology at the University of Amsterdam and lectures in literary and cultural studies at Radboud University Nijmegen.