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M. Shiman

From “The Maid of Pskov” to “Kitezh”: Legendary as a Principle of Old Russian Poetics in the Operas by N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov

The article provides the attempt to correlate the first and penultimate operas by N. Rimsky-Korsakov from the point of view of their legendary origin. Despite the temporal distance between these works, their basic stylistic features have much in common. The problem of historical opera based on a legend, the interpretation of female image in the old Russian manner, the presence of the category of the miraculous, first introduced in “The Maid of Pskov”, are embodied in “The Tale of Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maiden Fevronia”. The study established the self-evidence of the legend of Kitezh, which is determined by the main primary sources – the legend of the Tatar invasion and the legend of wise forest virgin. In addition, the status of the legend in “Kitezh” is associated with one of the central methods of old Russian literature – historicism, reflected in the appeal by the composer to the true events of history being treated in the ‘old’ key. The main characters of “Kitezh” are also of legendary historical color in opera. They inherit typed features of the Old Rus images. Among them, the special attention is paid to the charachter which is Fevronia, as she summarizes and concludes the panorama of the “prophetic” Korsakov’s female charachters. Her unique quality is Holiness, emphasized by Rimsky-Korsakov and based on the genre of lives of saints, as this genre implies the existence of ‘wonderful’ component as the legend does.

Key words

N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov, “The Maid of Pskov”, “The Tale of Invisible City of Kitezh”, legend, Old Russian poetry, miracle, historicism.