“Moscow, Cheryomushki”. Operetta
Moscow Operetta Theatre. Conductor G. Stolyarov. Director V. Kandelaki.
1986. D. Shostakovich, Collected Works, Vol. 24, Moscow.
The hand-written score and piano score are in the Russian State Archive for Literature and Art (Stack 2048, Inv. 3, Item 22).
Libretto by V. Mass and M. Chervinsky.
Premiere: Moscow Operetta Theatre. January 24, 1959. Conductor G. Stolyarov. Director: V. Kandelaki.
The same year “Moscow, Cheremushki” was staged in Rostov-on-Don, Odessa, Sverdlovsk, Bratislava and Prague.
“It used to seem strange to me how the music of Johann Strauss or Offenbach could appeal to a serious musician. Sollertinsky helped me throw off this snobbish attitude to art and now I relish music of all genres, as long as it is real music”.
“ ’Moscow, Cheremushki’ is my first and, I hope, not my last experiment in this appealing genre. I worked on it with real enthusiasm and lively interest. It seems to me that as a result of our joint efforts...a cheerful, merry show will come into being.”
“I regularly attend rehearsals of my operetta. I’m overcome with shame. If you are planning to come to the premiere, I advise you to think again. It’s not worth wasting time to relish my disgrace. It’s boring, feeble and stupid. That’s all I can tell you in confidence.”
The music comedy Moscow, Cheryomushki was written in 1957;1958 for the Moscow Operetta Theatre.
The initiative to involve Shostakovich in real cooperation with the theater belonged to Stolyarov, who since 1954 became the chief conductor of the Moscow Operetta Theater.
According to Isaac Glikman, the composer agreed reluctantly to write the music based on Vladimir Mass and Mikhail Chervinsky’s libretto Moscow, Cheryomushki and only at Stolyarov’s ‘nsistent and unrelenting request’, since the proposed topic ‘in no way pleased him’.
Shostakovich began composing in the autumn of 1957. In contrast to other instances of Shostakovich’s cooperation with theatres, individual items of the new work were submitted to the theatre (to Stolyarov) as soon as they were written, before the entire score was finished. In order to accelerate the work, the copyists made copies of Shostakovich’s author’s manuscript, with which it was possible to begin practicing with the singers, choir, and orchestra.
Soon the composer became so busy he had to stop work. Shostakovich did not return to this project until the spring of 1958.
When working on the score, Shostakovich made various changes to the original text of the piano score relating to tessitura of the voice; parts, transposing some items taking into account the vocal possibilities of specific performers or offering alternatives (ossia), composed new fragments, clarified agogic indications, and so on. Significant changes were also made to the libretto.
The whole thing was composed in a little more than a year: approximately between the end of September 1957 and October 1958.
In the process, the genre of the composition was ultimately defined: Shostakovich himself usually called this opus an operetta; on the title page of the handwritten piano score, which is kept in the Production Combine of the Music Foundation, it says: ‘Operetta;Revue in Three Acts’; in the lifetime edition of the piano score, the genre of the work is defined as a music comedy.
The premiere of the music comedy Moscow, Cheryomushki was held on 24 January 1959 on the stage of the Moscow Operetta Theatre. Grigori Stolyarov conducted the premiere performance.
- Pimlico Opera Orchestra, Soloists: Platt I., Davies M., Tibbels N., Barkan A., Hancock P. Conductor: Kani W. 1994 // BBC MM132, 1995
- Orchestra and choir of the Moscow Operetta Theater. Soloists: T. Shmyga, N. Ruban, N. Kuralesina, V. Chekalov, V. Alchevsky and others. Conductor: G. Stolyarov. 1959 // Melodiya Д-11043-4, 1962