Letter 3415

Tchaikovsky Research
Date 24 November/6 December 1887
Addressed to Emiliya Pavlovskaya
Where written Maydanovo
Language Russian
Autograph Location Moscow (Russia): Bakhrushin State Central Theatre Museum (Pavlovskaya collection)
Publication Чайковский на Московской сцене (1940), p. 413
П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том XIV (1974), p. 268.

Text and Translation

Russian text
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
24 ноября [18]87 г[ода]

Голубушка Эмилия Карловна!

Правда ли, что 7-ое представление «Чародейки» было при пустом театре? Если да, то это самый скандальный провал, какой когда-либо был. Я был так утомлён от петербургских треволнений и от 2 московских концертов, что решительно не в состоянии был ехать в Тифлис. Отдыхаю здесь насколько возможно. Простите, что не пишу подробно, но мне необходимо покамест даже от переписки воздерживаться, ибо нервы очень расшатались и признано нужным, чтобы я ровно ничего не делал. Целую ручки. Напишите 2 слова после 1-го предст[авления] «Отелло».

Ваш П. Чайковский

Леличке, С[ергею] Евгр[афовичу]и Ген[надию] Петр[овичу] привет.

24 November 1887

Is it true that at the 7th performance of "The Enchantress" the theatre was empty? If it is, then this is the most scandalous fiasco that has ever taken place [1]. I was so exhausted after the hectic bustle in Petersburg and the two Moscow concerts [2], that I was simply unable to travel to Tiflis. I am resting here as far as that is possible. Forgive me for not writing in detail, but for the time being I must refrain even from writing letters, because my nerves are very much shattered and it has been deemed essential that I should not do work of any kind. I kiss your hands. Write me a couple of words after the 1st performance of "Otello" [3].

Yours P. Tchaikovsky

Greetings to Lelichka, Sergey Yevgrafovich, and Gennady Petrovich [4].

Notes and References

  1. The premiere of The Enchantress took place at the Saint Petersburg Mariinsky Theatre on 20 October/1 November 1887, under the baton of Tchaikovsky, who conducted three more performances: on 23 October/4 November, 26 October/7 November, and 30 October/11 November. Already the fifth performance did not play to a full house, and the seventh performance played to a half-empty auditorium. On the day that he wrote this letter to Emiliya Pavlovskaya Tchaikovsky had read in the newspapers about the failure of his opera. See also Letter 3416 to Pyotr Jurgenson, 24 November/6 December 1887 — note based on information provided by Vasily Kiselev in Чайковский на московской сцене (1940), p. 413.
  2. After attending the fifth performance of The Enchantress on 6/18 November 1887 (which he did not conduct himself), Tchaikovsky left for Moscow the following day. On 14/26 November he conducted a Russian Musical Society concert there for the first time. The programme was made up exclusively of his works: the fantasia Francesca da Rimini, an arioso from The Enchantress (sung by Adelina Skompskaya), the Concert Fantasia for piano and orchestra (soloist: Taneyev), the Mozartiana suite (first performance), two songs (performed by Adelina Skompskaya), and the overture The Year 1812. This concert was a tremendous success and was repeated the following day as a popular concert (with the tickets sold at lower prices to allow less affluent members of the public to attend it).
  3. The first performance in Russia of Verdi's Otello took place at the Saint Petersburg Mariinsky Theatre on 26 November/8 December 1887, conducted by Nápravník. The title-role was sung to great acclaim by Nikolay Figner, and Pavlovskaya was also very successful as Desdemona. See her letter to Tchaikovsky of 30 November/12 December 1887 in Чайковский на московской сцене (1940), p. 414–415.
  4. This note was written on the side of the page. Emiliya Pavlovskaya's husband, Sergey Yevgrafovich Pavlovsky (1846–1915), was also a singer (a baritone) and a member of the Saint Petersburg Mariinsky Theatre's troupe. "Lelichka" (an affectionate diminutive of Yelena) refers to Pavlovskaya's sister.