Featured Libretti

‘Many literary-operatic encounters treat the relationship between Russian and Western traditions, since the Imperial Theater directorate generously funded the latter during most of the nineteenth century, to the detriment of the former. But viewing Western opera merely as a usurper of Russian operatic loyalties, as some Russian critics did, obscures the essential role Western opera played in the evolving patterns of Russian social life … These operatic influences stretch across the vast and inclusive middle space of cultural life, long an underexplored area for Russia, whose historical particularities inhibit discussion of categories like “middle estate” and “middlebrow culture” … [even though] the cultural middle ground in Russia provides the real theater for opera in the nineteenth century, the place where opera could truly circulate socially …‘Opera-going was a decidedly creative endeavor for its Russian practitioners. But before the urban Russian population could insinuate itself into the field of operatic consumption, Western opera culture first had to be appropriated from abroad. In this sense, Russian opera-going represents a horizontal, cross-cultural import, as well as a socially vertical, internal one … In Russia’s case, this … was imposed primarily by Italy and France, nineteenth-century centers of the operatic cosmos’

- Julie A. Buckler, The Literary Lorgnette: attending Opera in Imperial Russia, Stanford UP, 2000, pp. 1–3