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Music Text

Libretto by Benjamin Fleischmann


M,2T,B; male choir;
Chamber version (Gerd Jünemann):

Abbreviations (PDF)

For full details on this stagework, including synopsis and roles, please visit our Opera section.



World Premiere
USSR Union of Composers, Moscow
Soloists and members of the Moscow Philharmonic Society
Repertoire Note

Completion and orchestration of unfinished one-act opera by Shostakovich’s pupil, Veniamin Fleishman, who was killed on active service in September 1941 during the siege of Leningrad.  Libretto by Fleishman based on the story by Anton Chekhov. 

Just before the outbreak of World War ll, Shostakovich’s pupil Veniamin Fleishman began a one-act opera based on Chekhov’s short story about Bronza, a Russian country coffin-maker and violinist, and his combative relationship with the Jewish musicians in his village.

Fleishman was killed before he could complete the work. In memory of his talented student, Shostakovich rescued the manuscript from besieged Leningrad, finished it and orchestrated it. The result is a lyrical and haunting score, which tells a most touching story and abounds in the kind of bitter-sweet Jewish wedding tunes that Shostakovich himself loved and which surface in some of his most famous works including the 2nd Piano Trio, the 2nd Violin Concerto and the song-cycle ‘From Jewish Folk Poetry’.

Although for a long time this opera remained unperformed, in recent years it has received the occasional staging, concert performance and recording and has even been turned into a film. In its poignant simplicity and moments of true grandeur, this work is a remarkable collaboration between pupil and teacher.

Note by Gerard McBurney

Recommended Recording

Sergei Leiferkus, Konstantin Pluzhnikov, Ilya Levinsky, Marina Shaguch, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Gennadi Rozhdestvensky
RCA Red Seal 09026 68434-2

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