The Enchantress (opera)

The Enchantress (or The Sorceress, Russian: Чародейка, Charodéyka) is an opera in four acts by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky based on the libretto by Ippolit Shpazhinsky, using his drama with the same title. The opera was composed between September 1885 and May 1887 in Maidanovo, Russia, and was first performed in Saint Petersburg in 1887.

The Enchantress
Opera by Tchaikovsky
The Enchantress Album cover.jpg
Cover of a 1954 recording
Native title
Russian: Чародейка, Charodéyka
LibrettistIppolit Shpazhinsky
Based onShpazhinsky's drama The Enchantress
1 November 1887 (1887-11-01)
Mariinsky Theatre, Saint Petersburg

Composition historyEdit

Ippolit Shpazhinsky's play The Enchantress was first produced in 1884 at the Maly Theatre in Moscow, and soon it had seen more performances than any other play being staged in Moscow or Saint Petersburg. The actresses Maria Yermolova and Maria Savina were prominent in the title role of Nastasya ("Kuma").[1] Modest Ilyich Tchaikovsky admired The Enchantress[2] and one scene in particular. He pointed it out to his brother the composer, who proceeded to write a duet based on that scene. Pyotr saw the play himself in January 1885, after which he wrote to Shpazhinsky, asking him to convert the drama to an opera libretto.[1] Shpazhinsky agreed, and the two men met that month to discuss the project,[3] but the librettist's work was delayed by his divorce proceedings. When the libretto was finally completed in August, it was far too long and Tchaikovsky had to radically cut it. Even so, this opera was still the longest work he ever wrote.[4]

Performance historyEdit

The world premiere was given on 1 November 1887 [OS 20 October] at the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg conducted by the composer and with stage direction by Osip Palechek (Josef Paleček), set designs by Mikhail Bocharov; and costume designs by E. Ponomaryov. After one season it was dropped from the repertoire. The sets and costumes were sent to Moscow where the opera received a single performance on 2 February 1890 [OS]. There was a second production at the Bolshoi Theatre on 25 January 1916 [OS], but this remained in the repertoire only until the end of the year. A third production at the Bolshoi in 1958 received 49 performances and remained in the repertoire until 1965. The British premiere was given by New Sussex Opera in May 1996 as part of the Brighton Festival. The latest production at the Bolshoi was premiered in 2012 [5][6] A new production of Charodeyka directed by Christof Loy opened the 2014/2015 season of Theater an der Wien on 14 September 2014 with Mikhail Tatarnikov conducting the ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien. The French premiere was given in March 2019 at the Opera de Lyon conducted by Daniele Rustioni with Elena Guseva in the title role.[7]


Role Voice type Premiere cast
1 November 1887
(Conductor: Composer)
Prince Nikita Kurlyatev, the Grand Prince's deputy in Nizhniy-Novgorod baritone Ivan Melnikov
Princess Yevpraksiya Romanovna, his wife mezzo-soprano Mariya Slavina
Prince Yuriy, their son tenor Mikhail Vasilyev
Mamïrov, an old deacon bass Fyodor Stravinsky
Nenila, his sister, a lady-in-waiting to the princess mezzo-soprano
Ivan Zhuran, valet of the prince bass-baritone
Nastasya, nicknamed "Kuma", keeper of a wayside inn at a crossing of the Oka River, a young woman soprano Emilia Pavlovskaya
Foka, her uncle baritone
Polya, her friend soprano
Balakin, a guest from Nizhniy-Novgorod tenor
Potap, a merchant guest bass-baritone
Lukash, merchant guest tenor
Kichiga, a pugilist bass
Payísy, a vagabond in the guise of a monk character tenor
Kudma, a sorcerer baritone
Chorus, silent roles: Maidens, guests, police officers, serfs, huntsmen, skomorokhi, people


Source: Tchaikovsky Research

  • Strings: Violins I, Violins II, Violas, Cellos, Double Basses
  • Woodwinds: Piccolo, 3 Flutes, 2 Oboes, Cor Anglais, 2 Clarinets (B-flat, C, A), 2 Bassoons
  • Brass: 4 Horns (F), 2 Cornets (B-flat), 2 Trumpets (B-flat), 3 Trombones, Tuba
  • Percussion: Timpani, Triangle, Tambourine, Military Drum, Cymbals, Bass Drum, Tam-tam
  • Other: Harp
  • On/Offstage: 4 Horns (off)


Time: The last quarter of the 15th century

Place: Nizhny Novgorod and its vicinity

The action takes place at the last quarter of the 15th century at a tavern and brothel near Nizhny Novgorod. Nastasya (Kuma), the charming owner of the inn, has made herself an enemy in rejecting the devious Mamïrov, the right-hand man of the local governor Nikita Danilovich Kurlyatev. He spreads the gossip that Nastasya is an enchantress, and every man whom she meets falls for her. Yuriy, Nikita's son, begins to frequent the inn, as does his father, who falls madly in love with Nastasya (without any success), who threatens her that he will reach his goal by whatever means. Mamïrov confronts Nikita's wife, Yevpraksiya, with the truth, while her son – not yet personally involved with Nastasya – swears to avenge his mother. While confronting Nastasya he learns that it is he whom she loves. They both plan to flee during the night not knowing that, by now, Mamïrov has worked out an elaborate plot to wreak his revenge on Nastasya as well as on Nikita and his family with devastating effect.

The city of Nizhny Novgorod, seen beyond the Oka River.

Act 1Edit

Folk Scene (No. 1)
Folk Scena (No. 2)
Chorus of Guests & Scene (No. 3)
Scene (No. 4)
Kuma's Arioso (No. 4a)
Folk Chorus & Scene (No. 5)
Scene (No. 6)
Decimet (No. 7a)
Scene & Chorus (No. 7b)
Dance of the Tumblers (No. 7c)

Act 2Edit

Scene & Princess's Arioso (No. 8)
Scene & Duet (No. 9)
Scene (No. 10)
Scene (No. 11)
Prince's Arioso (No. 11a)
Scene: Prince with the Princess (No. 12)
Folk Scene (No. 13)
Finale (No. 14)

Act 3Edit

Scene & Duet (No. 15)
Scene (No. 16)
Scene (No. 17)
Duet (No. 17a)

Act 4Edit

Scene with Chorus (No. 18)
Scene & Duet (No. 19)
Scene (No. 20)
Kuma's Arioso (No. 20a)
Scene & Duet (No. 21)
Scene & Quartet (No. 22)
Finale (No. 23)

Versions by other handsEdit

In the Soviet Union, the opera was staged again with a new version of the libretto by Sergey Gorodetsky after Ippolit Shpazhinsky on 22 March 1941 in Leningrad (St Petersburg).


  • 1954, Natalya Sokolova (Nastasya), Mikhail Kiselyov (Prince Kurlyatev), Vera Borisenko (Princess Yevpraksiya), Georgiy Nelepp (Prince Yuriy), Aleksey Korolyov (Mamïrov), Anna Matyushina (Nenila), Mikhail Skazin (Ivan Zhuran), Anatoly Tikhonov (Foka), Vera Gradova (Polya), Sergey Sladkopevtsev (Balakin), Leonid Khachaturov (Potap), Aleksey Usmanov (Lukash), Gennady Troitsky (Kichiga), Pavel Pontryagin (Payisy), Pavel Korobkov (Kudma), Moscow Philharmonia State Orchestra, Radio USSR chorus, Samuil Samosud (conductor)
  • 1978, Rimma Glushkova (Natasya, the enchantress), Oleg Klenov (Prince Kurlyatev), Lyudmila Simonova (Princess Yevpraksiya), Lev Kuznetsov (Prince Yuriy), Yevgeny Vladimirov (Mamirov), Nina Derbina (Nenila), Boris Dobrin (Ivan Zhuran), Pyotr Gluboky (Foka), Galina Molodtsova (Polya), Vladimir Makhov (Balakin), Sergei Strukachev (Potap), Lev Eliseyev (Lukash), Vladimir Matorin (Kichiga), Andrei Sokolov (Payisy), Viktor Ribinsky (Kudma), Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Gennady Provatorov (conductor)
  • VHS 1984 (DVD 2010), Larissa Zyryanova (Nastasya, the enchantress),Vladimir Stepanov (Prince Kurlyatev), Lyudmila Korzhakova (Princess Yevpraksiya), Vadim Valyuta (Prince Yuriy), Alexander Pravilov (Mamirov), A. Perfilova (Nenila), E. Sedov (Ivan Zhuran), Dimitri Sukhanov (Foka), L. Lebedovskaya (Polya), N. Bogutsky (Payisy), A. Burlatsky (Balakin), M. Sanotsky (Potap), Mikhail Larin (Lukash), A. Perfilov (Kichiga) Nizhegorodsky State Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet, Pavel Reznikov.


  1. ^ a b Bolshoi Press Office, 26 June 2012, Bolshoi to return "forgotten" Tchaikovsky's masterpiece, The Enchantress
  2. ^ Henry Zajaczkowski, An Introduction to Tchaikovsky’s Operas
  3. ^ Tchaikovsky Research
  4. ^ David Brown, Tchaikovsky: The Man and His Music
  5. ^ Bolshoi Theatre Programme for Чародейка Production premiered 26 June 2012.
  6. ^ Чародейка (in Russian). Bolshoi Theatre. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  7. ^ Didier Van Moere. Odeur de soufre. Diapason, No.679 May 2019, p67.

External linksEdit