Vladivostok, Primorsky Stage, Chamber Hall

Scenes from the Life of Nikolenka Irtenev

One-act opera


The Narrator: Roman Krukovich
Nikolenka: Alena Denisenko
Karl Ivanovich: Dmitry Nelasov
The Mother: Anastasiya Kikot
The Grandmother: Svetlana Rozhok
Sonechka: Maria Suzdaltseva

Piano part: Alexey Tikhomirov


Music by Sergei Banevich
Libretto by Sergei Vasiliev after motifs of Leo Tolstoy's autobiographical trilogy Childhood, Boyhood and Youth and biographical materials connected with the final days of the author's life

Musical Director: Larisa Gergieva
Stage design: Alexei Stepanyuk
Set Designs: Anna Soboleva
Lighting Designer: Andrei Ponizovskiy
Lighting Adaptation for the Primorsky Stage: Natalia Tyurina
Video Designer at the Primorsky Stage: Denis Biryukov
Assistant Stage Director: Ilya Ustyantsev


Introduction. “A happy time that can never return. How can I not love and cherish memories of her?” The Mother comes to wake Nikolenka.
Playing. Boys are teasing and mocking Ilenka Grap. “I cannot explain the cruelty of what I did. Why did I not go near, why did I not protect and comfort Ilenka?”
The story of Karl Ivanovich. Nikolenka’s governor and teacher relates the sad story of his life.
The Ball. At a ball in Moscow Nikolenka is dancing with Sonechka. At night he is unable to fall asleep and tells his brother Volodya how much he is in love.
The Mother’s first letter. A letter comes from the village in which the Mother speaks of her illness and promises to be out of her bed the next day.
The Mother’s second letter. “Don’t believe what I wrote about myself. I know that I will not rise from my bed again.”
Epilogue. At home in the village; preparations are underway for a journey. In a darkened room Nikolenka sees a woman in white – the ghost of the Mother. The lights come on and we hear a whirlwind-like mazurka. “A happy time that can never return. Will that power of love and faith ever come back? Or is it just memories that remain?”

About the production

Sergei Banevich's concert opera Scenes from the Life of Nikolenka Irtenev, just like Tolstoy's book which inspired it, is aimed at both children and adults whose souls still burn with the "light of childhood". It is a chamber work, and intimate - it is hard to speak otherwise of the most precious, exciting and delicate stage of life.

The opera is structured as a series of memories of the Narrator: the staccato and cinematic libretto by Sergei Vasiliev as if draws separate episodes of Tolstoy’s narrative from a fog. Just like in life – when people grow up much of the past is forgotten, and in our souls we retain only the strongest impressions of childhood. The plot is held together by refrain episodes – a waltz that Nikolenka’s sister is learning in the next room, an Easter folk song and Nikolenka’s own naive prayer “May God grant happiness to all, that they may be content, and that there be good weather for walking.”

The scene of the ball with the grand waltz, the sleepless night and even the comment about the first flowers of spring – here there is much that reminds us of another opera, also based on a plot by Tolstoy. Scenes from the Life of Nikolenka Irteniev in a sense is a War and Peace in miniature, in terms of purity and power of emotion ceding nothing to the “peace” episodes of Prokofiev’s opera.

Bogdan Korolyok

Performed to piano accompaniment

The opera was commissioned by the IV International Winter Festival Arts Square in St Petersburg

World premiere: 2 January 2003, Glinka Small Hall of the St Petersburg Academic Shostakovich Philharmonic
Premiere: 7 January 2016, Mariinsky Theatre
Premiere at the Primorsky Stage of the Mariinsky Theatre: 30 October 2021, Vladivostok

Running time: 1 hour 10 minutes
The performance has no interval

Age category 6+

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