Letter 99

Date 10/22 June 1867
Addressed to Aleksandr Ostrovsky
Where written Hapsal
Language Russian
Autograph Location Moscow: Bakhrushin State Central Theatre Museum (Ostrovsky collection)
Publication А. Н. Островский и русские композиторы. Письма (1937), p. 157–158
П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том V (1959), p. 118–119.

Text and Translation

Russian text
(original)
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
Гапсаль. 1867 10 июня

Милостивый государь!
Александр Николаевич!

Перед отъездом из Москвы, в последних числах мая я был у Вас, но Вы уже были в деревне. Мне было очень грустно уехать на лето, не имея ни единой строчки либретто, но теперь я даже отчасти радуюсь этому обстоятельству, ибо в том предположении, что Вы ещё не начали второго действия, могу осмелиться предложить на Ваше благоусмотрение следующий новый план второго действия. Мне бы очень хотелось после дуэта Дубровина с Бастрюковым ввести в это действие Елену, причём мотивом к её появлению служили бы следующие побуждения:

Возмущённая наглым поступком Воеводы с её новой госпожой и находя большую аналогию в положении боярышни с собственным своим, она приходит сказать Дубровину, что терпеть больше нельзя, что пора действовать, что, соединившись с Бастрюковым, он должен, пользуясь отсутствием Воеводы, явиться в терем и освободить их обеих; здесь они втроём (Дубр[овин], Бастр[юков], Eлена) сговариваются относительно плана действия (по этому случаю трио) и расходятся, узнав о приближении Воеводы, едущего на богомолье. Затем действие продолжается по прежнему проекту.

Если бы Вы на эти изменения согласились, то в таком случае можно бы было обойтись без первой картины второго действия.

Прошу извинения, добрейший Александр Николаевич, что своею докучливостью нарушаю Ваш деревенский покой, но Вашею крайнею снисходительностью Вы уже успели избаловать меня.

Торопиться я Вас не прошу; это лето я посвящаю отделке и оркестровке первого действия; затем в продолжение следующих зимы и лета надеюсь написать остальные три.

Примите уверение в глубоком уважении преданного Вам и благодарного

П. Чайковский

Если Вам нужно будет написать мне слова два, то прошу адресовать: Эстляндской губернии в город Гапсаль, Grosse Schlosstrasse, Haus Johansonn

Hapsal. 1867 10 June

Just before my departure from Moscow, in the last days of May I called on you, but you were already in the country [1]. I was very upset leaving for the summer without having had a single line of the libretto [2], but now I am even rather glad that this happened, because I suppose that you have not even begun the second act, and this might allow me to suggest that you might consider the following new plan for the second act [3]. After the duet for Dubrovin and Bastryukov, I would very much like to introduce Yelena [Olyona] into this act, with the following motives serving as the reason for her appearance:

Indignant at the Voyevoda's insolent treatment of her new mistress, and seeing a clear analogy between the young lady's situation and her own, she arrives to tell Dubrovin that it is impossible to put up with all this any longer, that it is time to act, and that, joining forces with Bastryukov, he should take advantage of the Voyevoda's absence, enter the tower-chamber and rescue them both. Then the three of them (Dubrovin, Bastryukov, Yelena) agree on their plan of action (here there is a trio) and, on learning that the Voyevoda, who is about to leave on a pilgrimage, is approaching, they part. After that the act continues in accordance with the earlier outline.

If you are agreeable to these changes, then perhaps we could do without the first scene of the second act.

I beg your pardon, most kind Aleksandr Nikolayevich, for disturbing your rural tranquillity with my importunateness, but in your extreme forbearance you have already managed to spoil me [4]

I am not asking you to hurry: I will spend this summer finishing off and orchestrating the first act [5]; then during the winter and the coming summer I hope to write the remaining three.

Please accept this assurance of the profound respect felt by your devoted and grateful

P. Tchaikovsky

If you should have need to write to me a word or two, I kindly ask you to address your letter:

To the town of Hapsal in the Estonian province, Great Castle Street, Johansonn's House.

Notes and References

  1. In late May/early June 1867 Ostrovsky left Moscow for the summer to go to the estate of Shchelykovo, in Kostroma province, which together with his brother he had bought from his stepmother that year — note by Sergey Popov in А. Н. Островский и П. И. Чайковский (1937), p. 158  [back]
  2. In the copybook containing sketches for Act I of the opera The Voyevoda, the libretto for which Ostrovsky had started writing for him (on a subject drawn from his comedy A Dream on the Volga), Tchaikovsky made the following note: "Received from A. N. Ost[rovsky] 1st Act libret[to]. 5 March 1867. Started to write on the 8th" [O.S.]. This copybook is preserved in the Tchaikovsky House-Museum at Klin. By the end of April that year Tchaikovsky had sketched out the music for the whole of Act I, but then he lost the libretto, which meant that Ostrovsky, who had thrown away his rough copy of the text, had to write the libretto of Act I afresh. See Letter 98 to Anatoly Tchaikovsky, 2/14 May 1867 — note by Sergey Popov in А. Н. Островский и П. И. Чайковский (1937), p. 158-159  [back]
  3. The original plan was to fit the plot of Ostrovsky's comedy into a four-act opera, in which the second act was to be divided into two tableaux. The first tableau of Act II in the opera was to correspond to Scene 2 in Act I in the comedy, and was to take place in Bastryukov's house — note by Sergey Popov in А. Н. Островский и П. И. Чайковский (1937), p. 159  [back]
  4. Ostrovsky was writing the libretto of The Voyevoda free of charge, solely out of sympathy for Tchaikovsky's talent. When the latter reported that he had mislaid the libretto of Act I Ostrovsky just as generously promised to reconstruct the lost text and to continue writing the remaining acts. From Ostrovsky's diary for the summer months of 1867 (which has been published) it transpires that the playwright managed to reconstruct the libretto of Act I from 5/17 to 8/20 June, and that from 13/25 to 17/29 June he worked on subsequent sections — note by Sergey Popov in А. Н. Островский и П. И. Чайковский (1937), p. 159  [back]
  5. During his stay at Hapsal in the summer of 1867 Tchaikovsky scored the whole of Act I of The Voyevoda, and he also revised and orchestrated afresh his Characteristic Dances (written in 1865), which he had decided to incorporate into his opera as a ballet number. The latter, entitled Entr'acte & Dances of the Chambermaids, was published by Jurgenson in 1873: the only section of The Voyevoda, apart from the Overture, to be published in Tchaikovsky's lifetime —note by Sergey Popov in А. Н. Островский и П. И. Чайковский (1937), p. 159  [back]