Oprichnik (the Tsar’s guard) Gryaznoy falls in love with Marfa, daughter of the merchant Sobakin. Marfa has a fiancé and Gryaznoy has a mistress, Lyubasha, who wants to drive her rival, who is about to be chosen as a bride to the Tsar, Ivan the Terrible, to the grave.
Jealousy, conspiracy, poison and love potion — love and death — the cornerstones of a genuine opera, reign supremely in The Tsar's Bride, one of the most prominent classical Russian operas.
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov completed the score in 1898. At the end of the 19th century there was a tendency to replace the old forms searching for the new expressiveness; artistic revolutions of the next century were looming over the horizon and all of a sudden Rimsky-Korsakov, for just one last time, introduced into The Tsar's Bride everything that his colleagues had radically abandoned. A libretto written in verses, a numbered structure with arias, duets and ensembles, melodramatic pathos and, most importantly, the balance between the actual historical events and fiction, public and private life. Despite the fact that the action takes place during the time of Oprichnina, and the time of the frustrated marriage of Marfa Vasilievna Sobakina and Ivan the Terrible, it is rarely mentioned in the chronicles for 1572, as the historical events serve merely as a background for human tragedy in The Tsar's Bride just as a background for human tragedy.
The performance by the Ural Opera is the reconstruction of the Bolshoi Theatre production of 1966 with the decor and costumes made by Fedor Fedorovsky, the famous theatre artist of the Soviet era. This is an exemplary production not only in the museum sense — as an opportunity to witness in our time, what the opera looked like half a century ago, but also in the aesthetic sense. The scenery turns the opera performance into an even greater conventionality so that “you are listening as if being bewitched, without analyzing and remembering anything”.