Letter 4526

Date 27 October/8 November 1891
Addressed to Mikhail Lentovsky
Where written Moscow
Language Russian
Autograph Location Moscow (Russia): Bakhrushin State Central Theatre Museum
Publication Чайковский на Московской сцене (1940), p. 469–470
П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том XVI-А (1976), p. 252–253
Russian text
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
27 окт[ября]

Многоуважаемый Михаил Валентинович!

Кто Вас «обругал и оплевал»? Я со всех сторон слышу восторженные отзывы о Ваших «Гугенотах». Если Вас оскорбил отзыв какой-нибудь газеты, — то не стыдно ли Вам, столь даровитому, деятельному и безусловно честному деятелю, обращать внимание на отношение к Вам прессы? Презирайте её отзывы, когда они злобны и несправедливы, и будьте уверены, что они на ход Вашего дела и на Вашу безукоризненную репутацию никакого влияния иметь не могут. Я всей душой стремлюсь сегодня к Вам в театр, — но это невозможно, ибо я дал слово быть в Большом, в ложе у автора оперы «Сон на Волге», который будет очень огорчён, если я этого не сделаю. Хотел быть во вторник в «Кармен», которая меня страшно интересует, ибо в ней поёт мой друг Э. К. Павловская, — но Вы как нарочно перенесли эту оперу на завтра, а завтра я могу прослушать только одно действие. (Я всё-таки буду!). В следующее же представление «Гугенот» приду во что бы то ни стало. Спасибо за милую память.

До свидания!

Ваш П. Чайковский

27 October

Much esteemed Mikhail Valentinovich!

Who has "torn you to pieces and spat upon you"?[1] From all quarters I have heard nothing but enthusiastic comments about your Huguenots. If it is a review in some newspaper which has offended you, are you not ashamed, given that you are such a gifted, enterprising, and unconditionally honest man, to pay attention to the press's attitude towards you? Show contempt for press reviews when these are spiteful and unfair, and rest assured that they cannot have the least effect on the thriving of your enterprise and on your irreproachable reputation. With all my soul I yearn to come to your theatre tonight, but it is impossible because I have given my word that I shall be at the Bolshoi [Theatre] to share a box with the author of the opera A Dream on the Volga [2]: he would be very upset if I fail to keep my promise. On Tuesday I wanted to go and see Carmen, which interests me greatly because my friend E. K. Pavlovskaya is singing in it, but you have re-scheduled this opera for tomorrow, which is almost as if you were trying to spite me on purpose, because tomorrow I will only be able to hear one act [3]. (Nevertheless, I will come!). As for the next performance of Les Huguenots, I shall attend that without fail [4]. Thank you for your kind remembrance of me.

Until we meet!

Yours, P. Tchaikovsky

Notes and References

  1. In the autumn of 1891, the entrepreneur Mikhail Lentovsky had opened a new opera theatre in Moscow, which was inaugurated with a performance of Meyerbeer's Les Huguenots on 25 October/6 November 1891. The performance was criticized sharply in the press, and two days later Lentovsky wrote to Tchaikovsky asking him for support: "Dear Pyotr Ilyich! Truly, what times I have chosen to start out on the serious field of opera!!! Today I have been torn to pieces and spat upon for daring to seek to work, to the best of my abilities and resources, in the sphere of real, true art!". Lentovsky's letter has been published in Чайковский на московской сцене (1940), p. 469.
  2. The premier of Anton Arensky's opera A Dream on the Volga (based on the same play by Aleksandr Ostrovsky as Tchaikovsky's first opera The Voyevoda) had taken place at the Moscow Bolshoi Theatre on 21 December 1890/2 January 1891.
  3. Emiliya Pavlovskaya sang Carmen in the production of Bizet's opera at Lentovsky's theatre on 28 October/9 November 1891. The Russian Register wrote on 2/14 November: "Pavlovskaya depicted the title-role in a very vivid and detailed manner, though sometimes she laid it on a bit too thick. This talented artiste received extraordinarily boisterous ovations, especially in the first act of this opera" note by Vasily Kiselev in Чайковский на московской сцене (1940), p. 470.
  4. In his letter of 27 October/8 November 1891, after describing the hostile reaction to his staging of Les Huguenots on the opening night, Lentovsky asked Tchaikovsky: "Would you not be able, dear Pyotr Ilyich, to spare a few free minutes tonight and come to see my Huguenots and then tell me if what I have done really deserves this kind of treatment?".