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Igor Stravinsky


Igor Stravinsky: Mavra
Parasha .......... Olga Guryakova
La voisine ........ Sofia Aksenova
La mère Irina .... Irina Tchistiakova
Le hussard ....... Yevgeny Akimov
conductor: Alexandre Polianichko
réalisation: Pierre Cavassilas

Palais Garnier, Paris 2001


Mavra is a one-act comic opera composed by Igor Stravinsky, and one of the earliest works of Stravinsky's neo-classical period. The libretto of the opera, by Boris Kochno, is based on Alexander Pushkin's The Little House in Kolomna. Mavra is about 25 minutes long, and features two arias, a duet, and a quartet performed by its cast of four characters. The opera has been characterised as both an homage to Russian writers, and a satire of bourgeois manners and the Romeo and Juliet subgenre of romance. Philip Truman has also described the music as satirising 19th-century comic opera. The dedication on the score is to the memory of Pushkin, Glinka and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

Mavra premiered in Paris on 3 June 1922, staged under the auspices of Sergei Diaghilev, with Oda Slobdoskaya, Zoïa Rosovska and Bélina Skoupevski among the original cast, at the Théatre national de l'Opéra, orchestra conducted by Grzegorz Fitelberg. The opera was a failure at the premiere, partly because the large space of the Paris Opéra overwhelmed the small scale of the opera. One critic, Émile Vuillermoz, so enraged Stravinsky that he cut the review out and pasted it onto his manuscript copy.

Stravinsky himself thought very highly of this composition, saying once that "Mavra seems to me the best thing I've done". Erik Satie praised the work after its premiere. Stravinsky himself reacted with hostility to people who criticized it in later years.

Igor Stravinsky  - MAVRA

"The Little House in Kolomna" A. S. Pushkin.
Illustrations of  Olga Biantovskaya


Place: Russian village
Time: Circa 1840

Parasha is in love with her neighbour, Vassili, a young hussar, but they have difficulty in meeting. After they sing a duet, Vassili leaves, and then Parasha's mother enters. She is lamenting the difficulty of finding a new maid-servant after their prior maid-servant, Thecla, died. 

The mother orders her daughter to find a new maid-servant. Parasha comes up with a scheme to smuggle Vassili into her house disguised as Mavra, a female maid-servant. The ruse initially succeeds, and Parasha and Vassili are happy at being under the same roof. Parasha and her mother go out for a walk. 

At one moment, Vassili shaves. The ladies return, disconcerted to see their new maid-servant shaving. Vassili escapes out the window, her mother faints, the next door neighbour rushes in to try to help, and Parasha laments the loss of her young love.

N u m b e r s

Parasha's song
Hussar's gypsy song
The mother's song
Mavra's song

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