Rimsky-Korsakov: Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh / Albrecht, Netherlands Opera Philharmonic

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Note: The Blu-ray version is only playable on Blu-ray Disc players and not compatible with standard DVD players.

Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera is a fanciful fairytale, yet at the same time a parable on repression and political conceit. The peasant girl Fevroniya’s prayer that the city of Kitezh becomes invisible, thus protecting it from Tatar attack, is magically heeded. The girl herself, however, is captured by the invaders. The leitmotifs and highly expressive musical tone-painting tell the story, based on a pantheist world view, almost on their own. Grand crowd scenes contrast with a internal treatment similar to the music dramas of Richard Wagner. Marc Albrecht conducts the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and the dramatic staging comes from the renowned Russian director, Dmitri Tcherniakov.

Recorded live at the De Nederlandse Opera, February 2012

Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov

Recorded live at the De Nederlandse Opera, February 2012

  • Picture format: NTSC 16:9
  • Sound format: LPCM 2.0 / DTS 5.1
  • Region code: 0 (worldwide)
  • Subtitles: English, French, German, Dutch, Japanese, Korean
  • Running time: 187 mins
  • No. of DVDs: 2
  • No. of Blu-ray discs: 1


The score, premiered in 1907, is filled with rich late romantic music, none of it virtuosic in the bel canto sense, but all demanding strong voices able to cut through the large orchestra. The orchestral and choral work is excellent. The long leading role of Fevroniya requires a great deal of stamina as well as a strong lyric-spinto soprano. Svetlana Ignatovich fills the bill vocally quite well, and her acting radiates the goodness and innocence of this idealized woman. Her Prince, handsome tenor Maxim Aksenov, is a perfect physical fit for the part; and his voice is pleasant enough for what is not really the leading part. As his father, Vladimir Vaneev displays an excellent bassbaritone and creates a believable benevolent leader. The baritone Alexey Markov has plenty of voice for his Act III scene relating the horrors of the Act II violence. Other strong contributions come from Gennady Bezzubenkov as a street singer, Mayram Sokolova as a fearful mother, and Vladimir Ognovenko as a frighteningly evil leader of the Tatars.

Best of all is tenor John Daszak as Grishka— a great role. The man is a drunken, almost amoral reveler; later, he is beset by guilt and hallucinations. Daszak makes the most of the role, from the man’s early disregard for anyone but himself to his need for comfort and understanding at the end. He so completely creates the character that his singing and acting can’t be separated; they work together completely to create a memorable portrayal.

I certainly would recommend this production to anyone wanting to become familiar with a major Russian work that isn’t performed that often outside Russia, though I would not be surprised to hear that this production (also done in Barcelona and Milan) would be available at other houses. The booklet has a fairly good synopsis and a good essay on the work, but no timings. There is also a bonus track with some interesting comments by the conductor and director.

-- American Record Guide

Product Description:

  • Release Date: January 28, 2014

  • Catalog Number: OA 1089D

  • UPC: 809478010890

  • Label: Opus Arte

  • Number of Discs: 2

  • Period: Romantic

  • Composer: Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

  • Conductor: Marc Albrecht

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, Netherlands Opera Chorus

  • Performer: Alexey Markov, Ante Jerkunica, John Daszak, Maxim Aksenov, Mayram Sokolova, Svetlana Ignatovitch, Vladimir Ognovenko, Vladimir Vaneev