A Musical Note (1873)

Tchaikovsky Research
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A Musical Note (Музыкальная заметка) [1] (TH 280 ; ČW 544) was Tchaikovsky's seventeenth music-review article for the Moscow journal Russian Register (Русские ведомости), in which it was published on 3 May 1873 [O.S.], signed only with the initials "B.L.".

This article contains an enthusiastic appraisal of Yevlaliya Kadmina's great promise as an actress and singer, based on her début in A Life for the Tsar, an opera which was very close to Tchaikovsky's heart.


Completed by 3/15 May 1873 (date of publication). Concerning the début of Yevlaliya Kadmina in the role of Vanya in a production of Glinka's A Life for the Tsar at the Moscow Bolshoi Theatre on 30 April/12 May 1873.

English translation

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On Monday, the 30th of April, a young singer, Madame Kadmina [2], made a most successful début in front of a packed audience at the Bolshoi Theatre, where she appeared in the scene by the monastery gate from Glinka's opera A Life for the Tsar. Although Madame Kadmina may not have surpassed all the other performers of the part of Vanya in terms of the quality and strength of her voice, it is certainly the case that, as far as her profound artistic perception of even the smallest details which make up this role's scenic and musical profile is concerned, she has left all her predecessors far behind her. When watching the masterly acting of this young singer and listening to her deeply felt singing, it was quite impossible to believe that this was an artist who was making her first appearance on the stage of a public theatre. Indeed, only in the insufficient restraint and fiery impulsiveness of her interpretation could one discern a certain lack of experience and that she is as yet unaccustomed to curb the ardour of her inspiration.

Fortunately, these defects merely serve to strengthen our faith in Madame Kadmina's remarkable talent. Time and experience will no doubt smooth over these blemishes and give her interpretations that calm, artistic objectivity which distinguishes the greatest artists of the stage.

Madame Kadmina has a pure mezzo-soprano voice of a most agreeable and warm timbre – a voice that has, moreover, been trained very well and does great credit to the excellent method used by her teacher Madame Aleksandrova. If in addition to this we note that the débutante has strikingly good looks (which is a great advantage for any sort of stage activity), then it is understandable why the audience could not but respond enthusiastically to her first appearance on the stage. Madame Kadmina was rewarded with unanimous stormy applause.

Very soon Madame Kadmina will make a second début as Azucena in Verdi's Il Trovatore, and after that it is said that she will perform the role of the shepherd Lel in A. N. Ostrovsky's new play The Snow Maiden, for which rehearsals are already under way at the Bolshoi Theatre [3].

"B. L."

Notes and References

  1. Entitled 'A Musical Notice' in ČW. There are also two other articles with the same title dating from 1872 and 1874 (see TH 267 and TH 290).
  2. Yevlaliya Kadmina (1853–1881), Russian mezzo-soprano and actress whose tragic suicide by taking poison in the middle of a performance of a play inspired a number of literary and musical works, most notably Turgenev's late story Klara Milich (1882). Tchaikovsky, who greatly admired her talent, dedicated one of the Six Romances, Op. 28 to her in 1875.
  3. A few days after this review, Yevlaliya Kadmina would create the part of the shepherd Lel at the premiere of Aleksandr Ostrovsky's spring legend The Snow Maiden, with incidental music by Tchaikovsky, which took place at the Moscow Bolshoi Theatre on 11/23 May 1873.