Today, the new opera-féerie in two parts composed by Rodion Shchedrin, A Christmas Tale, will be performed at the Mariinsky II in St. Petersburg.
The libretto by the composer is based on motifs of the fairy-tale by Božena Němcová translated by Nikolai Leskov and Russian folk fairy-tales.
The story tells of a beautiful, hardworking but unloved stepdaughter and her search for a violet in the snow. Ultimately she receives help from the months of the year and her kindheartedness is rewarded.(reproduced from the Schott music website)It is the compoer's fourth opera, after Lolita (1993), The Enchanted Wanderer (2002) and The Left-Hander (2013). The cast includes soprano Pelageya Kurennaya (Zamarashka), mezzo soprano Yekaterina Sergeyeva (Great Queen), bass Oleg Sychov (Woodcutter), soprano Larisa Yudina (Zlydnia), mezzo Anna Kiknadze (Stepmother), baritone Sergei Romanov (Chancellor) and 12 more singers playing the 12 months of the year. Valery Gergiev conducts the cast, a large chorus and the orchestra. Alexei Stepanyuk directs.
The required orchestra is a large one, with a large percussion set (5 players) and including domra, harp, piano and synthesizer. The opera should last about 2 hours.