The Libretto of Prokofiev’s "Maddalena"
(Stefan Van Puymbroeck)
Responses to "Maddalena":
Introduction and Annotation of the Source Archival Document (Natalia Savkina)
Travels with an Opera: Prokofiev’s "War and Peace" (Rita McAllister)
"War and Peace" and Prokofiev’s Late Operatic Aesthetic (Christina Guillaumier)
Prokofiev’s Unfinished Opera "Distant Seas" (Nadezhda Lobacheva)
The Scenario of Distant Seas
(Translated by Laurel E. Fay)
Prokofiev: "On Guard for Peace" and "The Queen of Spades" (Kevin Bartig)
2010: Prokofiev on CD and DVD
Prokofiev’s love of opera, and his difficulties getting his seven completed operas produced, is well-known: Most general articles and biographies of the composer’s international career address this latter issue, while also pointing out the common stylistic features of the operas that he composed in the United States, Western Europe, and Soviet Russia. Prokofiev fashioned his own libretti, privileged continuous action-filled declamation over the stand-and-sing aesthetic, and sought to update the genre by including new technologies. His last completed opera, A Story of a Real Man, finds him experimenting with cinematic split-screen effects.
This issue of the journal provides new information on three of Prokofiev’s opera projects, each of which has a complicated tale to tell. Two articles focus on Maddalena, a score drafted (but not fully orchestrated) by Prokofiev as a student. The opinion of his colleagues on the first and second drafts of the piano score is manifest in a document provided by Natalia Savkina. Stefan Van Puymbroeck compares the libretto to its original source, an obscure play by Magda Gustavovna Liven-Orlova. The issue also includes two articles on War and Peace. As is well known, it exists in several versions, the last (from 1952) as battle scarred as the events it describes. Rita McAllister provides the general details of her restoration of the first (1942) version of the opera, which received its première in 2010 in Glasgow. Christina Guillaumier describes the dramatic structure of two scenes from the original, relating them to Prokofiev’s overall operatic aesthetic. The issue is also graced with a detailed parsing of the extant music and libretto of Distant Seas, an unfinished comic opera project from 1948. The author, Nadezhda Lobacheva, documents Prokofiev’s futile efforts to shape the score in accord with the strictures of Soviet cultural policies. Political constraints and health problems ensured that he did not get much past the first scene.