Le Domino noir (Auber)

Tchaikovsky Research

In October 1868, Tchaikovsky provided additional recitatives and a chorus for an Italian-language production in Moscow of the opera Le domino noir (Черное домино) (TH 175 ; ČW 18), by the French composer Daniel-François-Esprit Auber.


Tchaikovsky's additions survive only in the form of a vocal-piano reduction, for solo voices, mixed chorus and piano (2 hands). The singing roles are as follows:

  • Lord Elfort — tenor
  • Count Juliano — tenor
  • Orazio von Massareno — tenor
  • Gil Perez — bass
  • Angela — soprano
  • Brigida — soprano
  • Orsola — soprano
  • Gacinta — alto
  • La Portinaia — alto

Movements and Duration

There are three acts, lasting around 80 minutes in performance.


The additions to Auber's opera Le domino noir were written at the request of Eugenio Merelli, impresario for the Italian Opera company in Moscow, for inclusion in an intended benefit performance for the singer Désirée Artôt. Tchaikovsky wrote about this work on 21 October/2 November 1868 to Anatoly Tchaikovsky: "I am terribly busy at the moment writing recitatives and a chorus for Auber's Domino Noir, which is being put on for Artôt's benefit" [1]. Tchaikovsky's haste turned out to be unnecessary, as Le domino noir was not performed in the 1868/69 season.

According an account to Eugene Merelli, Tchaikovsky wrote an orchestral introduction to a chorus in the first act, and recitatives to replace spoken dialogue throughout the opera [2]. Merelli paid the composer 150 rubles for this work. Désirée Artôt sang in all the productions, which by the close of the winter season amounted to around ten performances.


The first performance of Auber's opera with Tchaikovsky's additional numbers eventually took place on 10/22 January 1870, at Cantoni's benefit, with soloists Désirée Artôt, Minnie Hauk, Cesare Bossi, Mariano Padilla-y-Ramos, and Ludovico Finocchi.

The concert bill read: "Le domino noir, comic opera in 3 acts. Music composed by Auber. Introduction to a chorus in Act I and recitatives composed by P. Tchaikovsky (for the first time)".


Tchaikovsky's manuscript score has been lost, but a printed edition of the vocal-piano reduction with Tchaikovsky's alterations marked by a copyist is preserved in the Central Music Library of the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg (VII.1.4.154).


The vocal-piano reduction of Tchaikovsky's additions was published for the first time in 1971 in volume 60 of Tchaikovsky's Complete Collected Works, edited by Georgy Kirkor.


See: Discography

Related Works

Le domino noir — an opéra comique in 3 acts — was composed by Daniel-François-Esprit Auber (1782–1871), and first performed in Paris in 1837. The original French libretto was written by Eugène Scribe (1791–1861), although the author of the Italian translation used by Merelli's opera company is unknown [3].

Notes and References

  1. Letter 122 to Anatoly Tchaikovsky, 21 October/2 November 1868.
  2. Quoted in Музыкальное наследие Чайковского. Из историй его произведений (1958), p. 485.
  3. Perhaps the Italian version by Achille de Lauzières (1800-1875), and published in London ca. 1860.