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War and Peace (Prokofiev)

War and Peace (Prokofiev)

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War and Peace is an opera
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

 in two parts (an Epigraph and thirteen scenes), sometimes arranged as five acts, by Sergei Prokofiev
Sergei Prokofiev
Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev was a Russian composer, pianist and conductor who mastered numerous musical genres and is regarded as one of the major composers of the 20th century...

 to a Russian libretto
A libretto is the text used in an extended musical work such as an opera, operetta, masque, oratorio, cantata, or musical. The term "libretto" is also sometimes used to refer to the text of major liturgical works, such as mass, requiem, and sacred cantata, or even the story line of a...

 by the composer and Mira Mendelson, based on the novel War and Peace
War and Peace
War and Peace is a novel by the Russian author Leo Tolstoy, first published in 1869. The work is epic in scale and is regarded as one of the most important works of world literature...

by Leo Tolstoy
Leo Tolstoy
Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy was a Russian writer who primarily wrote novels and short stories. Later in life, he also wrote plays and essays. His two most famous works, the novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina, are acknowledged as two of the greatest novels of all time and a pinnacle of realist...

. Although Tolstoy's work is classified as a novel, the 1812 invasion of Russia by the French was based on real-life events, and some real-life people appear as characters in both the novel and the opera, e.g. Prince Mikhail Kutuzov
Mikhail Illarionovich Kutuzov
Mikhail Illarionovich Golenishchev-Kutuzov was a Field Marshal of the Russian Empire. He served as one of the finest military officers and diplomats of Russia under the reign of three Romanov Tsars: Catherine II, Paul I and Alexander I...

 and Napoleon Bonaparte
Napoleon I of France
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815...


Composition history

Mendelson and Prokofiev's original scheme for the libretto of the opera envisaged eleven scenes, and Prokofiev began composing the music in the summer of 1942, spurred on by the German invasion of the Soviet Union
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

 which began on June 22, 1941. The description "lyric-dramatic scenes" in the libretto accurately suggests both a homage to Tchaikovsky
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Russian: Пётр Ильи́ч Чайко́вский ; often "Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky" in English. His names are also transliterated "Piotr" or "Petr"; "Ilitsch", "Il'ich" or "Illyich"; and "Tschaikowski", "Tschaikowsky", "Chajkovskij"...

's Eugene Onegin
Eugene Onegin (opera)
Eugene Onegin, Op. 24, is an opera in 3 acts , by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The libretto was written by Konstantin Shilovsky and the composer and his brother Modest, and is based on the novel in verse by Alexander Pushkin....

 and an emphasis on individuals and their emotions rather than on the bigger picture of a country at war.

A piano score was completed by the summer of 1942 (two scenes having been changed from the original version), and it was submitted to the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

's Committee on the Arts. The Committee demanded that the Part 2 (War) scenes needed a more patriotic and heroic emphasis. Prokofiev, who had wanted to see his masterpiece staged as quickly as possible, added marches, choruses, and other materials to Part 2 to satisfy the committee. In addition, he composed the choral Epigraph, which emphasises the Russian people's defiance in the face of the enemy.

Performance history

Plans were drawn up for a 1943 première at the Bolshoi Theatre
Bolshoi Theatre
The Bolshoi Theatre is a historic theatre in Moscow, Russia, designed by architect Joseph Bové, which holds performances of ballet and opera. The Bolshoi Ballet and Bolshoi Opera are amongst the oldest and most renowned ballet and opera companies in the world...

, Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

, to be directed by Sergei Eisenstein
Sergei Eisenstein
Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein , né Eizenshtein, was a pioneering Soviet Russian film director and film theorist, often considered to be the "Father of Montage"...

 and conducted by Samuil Samosud
Samuil Samosud
Samuil Abramovich Samosud |Georgia]], — Moscow, 6 November 1964) was a Russian conductor. He started his musical career on the cello, before conducting in the Mariinsky Theater, Petrograd in 1917. From 1918 to 1936 he conducted at the Maly Operny, Leningrad. In 1936 he became musical...

. Nothing came of this project, although a private performance of eight scenes with piano accompaniment took place at the Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 Actors’ Centre on October 16, 1944, and a public concert performance of nine scenes, conducted by Samosud, was given in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory
Moscow Conservatory
The Moscow Conservatory is a higher musical education institution in Moscow, and the second oldest conservatory in Russia after St. Petersburg Conservatory. Along with the St...

 on June 7, 1945.

The first staged performance was of a newly extended seven-scene version of Part 1 (what is now Scene 2 having been added at Samosud’s suggestion), together with Scene 8, the first scene of Part 2. This took place on June 12, 1946, at then Maly Theatre (before the Revolution - Mikhailovsky Theatre) in Leningrad
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

, again conducted by Samosud. Part 2, also with an additional scene (Scene 10), was to be performed there in July 1947, but after the dress rehearsal no public performances were given, “for reasons beyond the control of the theatre and the composer”.

Following the Zhdanov decree of February 1948, Prokofiev started work on a shortened single-evening version of the opera, at the same time making various revisions to his original scheme, although the thirteen-scene framework remained. This version was first performed on May 26, 1953, at the Teatro Comunale
Teatro Comunale Florence
The Teatro Comunale di Firenze is an opera house in Florence, Italy. It was originally built as the open-air amphitheatre, the Politeama Fiorentino Vittorio Emanuele which was inaugurated on 17 May 1862 with a production of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor and which seated 6,000 people...

, Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

, conducted by Artur Rodziński
Artur Rodzinski
Artur Rodziński was a Polish conductor of opera and symphonic music. He is especially noted for his tenures as music director of the Cleveland Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic in the 1930s and 1940s.-Biography:...

, two months after the composer’s death. Scenes 2 and 9 were, however, omitted. The Russian première of this version was given at the Maly Theatre, Leningrad, on April 1, 1955, conducted by Eduard Grikurov, in this case with the omission of Scenes 7 and 11. All thirteen scenes (but with cuts) were eventually first performed together on November 8, 1957, at the Stanislavski-Nemirovich-Danchenko Theatre in Moscow, under the baton of Samosud's assistant Alexander Shaverdov. On December 15, 1959, the thirteen scenes and Epigraph were finally staged uncut (conducted by Alexander Melik-Pashayev
Alexander Melik-Pashayev
Alexander Shamil'evich Melik-Pashayev was a Soviet- conductor.-External links:**...

) at the Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow, although this was preceded in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 by an NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

 telecast conducted by Peter Herman Adler
Peter Herman Adler
Peter Herman Adler was an American conductor born in Austria–Hungary in Gablonz an der Neiße, which is now in the Czech Republic....

 on January 13, 1957.

The first British
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 performance was a Leeds Festival
Leeds Festival (classical music)
The Leeds Festival was a classical music festival which took place between 1858 and 1985 in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England.The first festival celebrated the opening of Leeds Town Hall by Queen Victoria on 7 September 1858...

 concert performance at Leeds Town Hall
Leeds Town Hall
Leeds Town Hall was built between 1853 and 1858 on Park Lane , Leeds, West Yorkshire, England to a design by architect Cuthbert Brodrick.-Background:...

 on April 19, 1967 (conductor Edward Downes
Edward Downes
Sir Edward Thomas "Ted" Downes, CBE was an English conductor, specialising in opera.He was associated with the Royal Opera House from 1952, and with Opera Australia from 1970. He was also well known for his long working relationship with the BBC Philharmonic and for working with the Netherlands...

). The first British staged performance was by Sadlers’ Wells Opera
English National Opera
English National Opera is an opera company based in London, resident at the London Coliseum in St. Martin's Lane. It is one of the two principal opera companies in London, along with the Royal Opera, Covent Garden...

 on October 11, 1972, and the first American staging by the Opera Company of Boston
Opera Company of Boston
The Opera Company of Boston was an American opera company located in Boston, Massachusetts that was active during the late 1950s through the early 1990s. The company was founded by American conductor Sarah Caldwell in 1958 under the name Boston Opera Group. At one time, the touring arm of the...

  on May 8, 1974. In other countries, the thirteen-scene version of the opera was first performed in Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

Bonn is the 19th largest city in Germany. Located in the Cologne/Bonn Region, about 25 kilometres south of Cologne on the river Rhine in the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, it was the capital of West Germany from 1949 to 1990 and the official seat of government of united Germany from 1990 to 1999....

) and Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

Sofia is the capital and largest city of Bulgaria and the 12th largest city in the European Union with a population of 1.27 million people. It is located in western Bulgaria, at the foot of Mount Vitosha and approximately at the centre of the Balkan Peninsula.Prehistoric settlements were excavated...

} in 1957, Serbia
Serbia , officially the Republic of Serbia , is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Carpathian basin and the central part of the Balkans...

Belgrade is the capital and largest city of Serbia. It is located at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, where the Pannonian Plain meets the Balkans. According to official results of Census 2011, the city has a population of 1,639,121. It is one of the 15 largest cities in Europe...

) in 1958, Croatia
Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

Zagreb is the capital and the largest city of the Republic of Croatia. It is in the northwest of the country, along the Sava river, at the southern slopes of the Medvednica mountain. Zagreb lies at an elevation of approximately above sea level. According to the last official census, Zagreb's city...

) in 1961, the Czech Republic
Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe. The country is bordered by Poland to the northeast, Slovakia to the east, Austria to the south, and Germany to the west and northwest....

Liberec is a city in the Czech Republic. Located on the Lusatian Neisse and surrounded by the Jizera Mountains and Ještěd-Kozákov Ridge, it is the fifth-largest city in the Czech Republic....

) in 1962, France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 (Théâtre des Champs-Élysées
Théâtre des Champs-Élysées
The Théâtre des Champs-Élysées is a theatre at 15 avenue Montaigne. Despite its name, the theatre is not on the Champs-Élysées but nearby in another part of the 8th arrondissement of Paris....

, Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, in concert) and Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

) in 1967, Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

 (Vienna State Opera
Vienna State Opera
The Vienna State Opera is an opera house – and opera company – with a history dating back to the mid-19th century. It is located in the centre of Vienna, Austria. It was originally called the Vienna Court Opera . In 1920, with the replacement of the Habsburg Monarchy by the First Austrian...

, conducted by Mstislav Rostropovich
Mstislav Rostropovich
Mstislav Leopoldovich Rostropovich, KBE , known to close friends as Slava, was a Soviet and Russian cellist and conductor. He was married to the soprano Galina Vishnevskaya. He is widely considered to have been the greatest cellist of the second half of the 20th century, and one of the greatest of...

) in 1971, Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 (the opening performance at the Sydney Opera House
Sydney Opera House
The Sydney Opera House is a multi-venue performing arts centre in the Australian city of Sydney. It was conceived and largely built by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, finally opening in 1973 after a long gestation starting with his competition-winning design in 1957...

) and Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

 (Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city of Argentina, and the second-largest metropolitan area in South America, after São Paulo. It is located on the western shore of the estuary of the Río de la Plata, on the southeastern coast of the South American continent...

) in 1973, Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

The Gran Teatre del Liceu , or simply Liceu in Catalan and Liceo in Spanish, is an opera house on La Rambla in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain...

, Barcelona
Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain after Madrid, and the capital of Catalonia, with a population of 1,621,537 within its administrative limits on a land area of...

) in 1977 and the Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

, conducted by Edo de Waart
Edo de Waart
Edo de Waart is a Dutch conductor, and the Music Director of both the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra....

) in 1991. The Canadian Opera Company
Canadian Opera Company
The Canadian Opera Company is an opera company in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is the largest opera company in Canada and the third largest producer of opera in North America. The COC performs in its own opera house, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.-History:For 40 years until...

 performed the opera as part of its 2008-2009 season.

Original Version

In 2010 Prokofiev's original version of the opera, edited by Rita McAllister
Rita McAllister
Margaret 'Rita' McAllister is a Scottish musicologist and composer. She is the Director of Music at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and is renowned as an authority on the works of Sergei Prokofiev.She undertook her undergraduate studies at the University of Glasgow, graduating BMus...

, was premiered in Glasgow
Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and third most populous in the United Kingdom. The city is situated on the River Clyde in the country's west central lowlands...

. This briefer version represents Prokofiev's thoughts in 1941, before the various additions and amendments he assembled over the years. It runs some 90 minutes shorter than the later version.


Role Voice type Premiere cast
Premiere cast
Premiere cast
Premiere cast
Premiere cast
Premiere cast
Premiere cast
9 scenes
Concert performance
8 scenes
Stage première
11 scenes
11 scenes
13 scenes
13 scenes
13 scenes
Natalya (Natasha) Rostov soprano
A soprano is a voice type with a vocal range from approximately middle C to "high A" in choral music, or to "soprano C" or higher in operatic music. In four-part chorale style harmony, the soprano takes the highest part, which usually encompasses the melody...

M Nadion Tatiana Lavrova Rosanna Carteri
Rosanna Carteri
Rosanna Carteri was an Italian soprano primarily active in the 1950s through the mid-1960s.Rosanna Carteri was born in Verona but was raised in Padua. She studied with Cusinati and started singing in concert at the age of twelve...

Tatiana Lavrova Helena Scott Valentina Kayevchenko Galina Vishnevskaya
Galina Vishnevskaya
Galina Pavlovna Vishnevskaya is a Russian soprano opera singer and recitalist who was named a People's Artist of the USSR in 1966.-Biography:...

Count Pyotr (Pierre) Bezukhov tenor
The tenor is a type of male singing voice and is the highest male voice within the modal register. The typical tenor voice lies between C3, the C one octave below middle C, to the A above middle C in choral music, and up to high C in solo work. The low extreme for tenors is roughly B2...

F Fedotov Oles Chishko
Oles Chishko
Oles' Semyenovich Chishko was a Ukrainian and Russian Soviet composer and singer .Oles' Semyenovich Chishko was born on July 3, 1895. He graduated from the Kharkiv Institute of Music and drama in 1924 and studied composition with Pyotr Ryazanov at the Leningrad Conservatory. Chishko was a...

Franco Corelli
Franco Corelli
Franco Corelli was a famous Italian tenor who had a major international opera career between 1951 and 1976. Associated in particular with the spinto and dramatic tenor roles of the Italian repertory, he was celebrated universally for his powerhouse voice, electrifying top notes, clear timbre, a...

Glebov David Lloyd Vladimir Petrov
Prince Andrei Bolkonsky baritone
Baritone is a type of male singing voice that lies between the bass and tenor voices. It is the most common male voice. Originally from the Greek , meaning deep sounding, music for this voice is typically written in the range from the second F below middle C to the F above middle C Baritone (or...

Andrei Ivanov Sergei Shaposhnikov Ettore Bastianini
Ettore Bastianini
Ettore Bastianini was an Italian opera singer who was particularly associated with the operas of Verdi. He had a prolific international career between 1945 and 1965 which was cut short by throat cancer. He began his professional career as a bass working in opera houses throughout Italy and in...

Sergei Shaposhnikov Morley Meredith Shchabinsky Yevgeny Kibkalo
Yevgeny Kibkalo
Yevgeny Gavrilovich Kibkalo was a Ukrainian baritone and National Artist of the Soviet Union....

Field-Marshal Prince Mikhail Kutuzov
Mikhail Illarionovich Kutuzov
Mikhail Illarionovich Golenishchev-Kutuzov was a Field Marshal of the Russian Empire. He served as one of the finest military officers and diplomats of Russia under the reign of three Romanov Tsars: Catherine II, Paul I and Alexander I...

bass Alexander Pirogov
Alexander Pirogov
Alexander Stepanovich Pirogov was a Russian bass opera singer.Pirogov was born in the village of Novosyolki, one of five sons of a musical father. Four of the five brothers became singers, most notably Grigory, also a bass....

Butyagin Italo Tajo
Italo Tajo
Italo Tajo was an Italian operatic bass, particularly associated with Mozart and Rossini roles.Tajo was born in Pinerolo, Piedmont, and studied violin and voice at the Music Conservatory of Turin with Nilde Stichi-Bertozzi. He made his stage debut in 1935, as Fafner , under Fritz Busch...

Butyagin Kenneth Smith Alexander Pirogov Alexei Krivchenya
Napoleon Bonaparte
Napoleon I of France
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815...

baritone Modestov Leon Lishner
Leon Lishner
Leon Lishner was an American operatic bass-baritone. He was particularly associated with the works of Gian Carlo Menotti, having created parts in the world premieres of four operas by that composer...

Pavel Lisitsian
Pavel Lisitsian
Pavel Gerasimovich Lisitsian was a Soviet baritone opera singer who performed in the Bolshoi Opera, Moscow from 1940 until his retirement from stage in 1966....

Count Ilya Rostov, Natasha's father bass Italo Tajo Chester Watson
Hélène Bezukhova, Pierre's wife mezzo-soprano
A mezzo-soprano is a type of classical female singing voice whose range lies between the soprano and the contralto singing voices, usually extending from the A below middle C to the A two octaves above...

A Vassilieva Cesy Broggini Baskova Gloria Lane Irina Arkhipova
Prince Anatole Kuragin, her brother tenor F Oganian Androukovich Mirto Picchi
Mirto Picchi
Mirto Picchi was an Italian dramatic tenor, particularly associated with the Italian repertory, and with contemporary works....

Androukovich Davis Cunningham Aleksei Maslennikov

Other roles

Over seventy characters are listed in the libretto, and many singers usually play multiple roles.

Other important characters are:

  • Sonya, Natasha's cousin (mezzo-soprano)
  • Maria Dmitrievna Akhrosimova (alto
    Alto is a musical term, derived from the Latin word altus, meaning "high" in Italian, that has several possible interpretations.When designating instruments, "alto" frequently refers to a member of an instrumental family that has the second highest range, below that of the treble or soprano. Hence,...

  • Dolokhov (baritone)

  • Colonel Vasska Denisov (bass)
  • Platon Karataev (tenor)
  • Prince Nikolai Bolkonsky, Andrei's father (bass-baritone
    A bass-baritone is a high-lying bass or low-lying "classical" baritone voice type which shares certain qualities with the true baritone voice. The term arose in the late 19th century to describe the particular type of voice required to sing three Wagnerian roles: the Dutchman in Der fliegende...


Other named characters are:

  • Madame Peronskaya (soprano)
  • Tsar Alexander I
    Alexander I of Russia
    Alexander I of Russia , served as Emperor of Russia from 23 March 1801 to 1 December 1825 and the first Russian King of Poland from 1815 to 1825. He was also the first Russian Grand Duke of Finland and Lithuania....

     (silent role)
  • Princess Marya Bolkonskaya, Andrei's sister (mezzo-soprano)
  • Balaga, a coachman (bass)
  • Joseph, a servant (silent role)
  • Matriosha, a gipsy (mezzo-soprano)
  • Dunyasha, Natasha's maid (soprano)
  • Gavrila, Mme Akhrosimova's butler (bass)
  • Metivier, a French doctor (baritone)
  • Tikhon Scherbatsky, a partisan (baritone)

  • Vasilisa (soprano)
  • Fyodor, a partisan (tenor)
  • Matveyev, a Muscovite (baritone)
  • Trishka (alto)
  • Marshal Berthier
    Louis Alexandre Berthier
    Louis Alexandre Berthier, 1st Prince de Wagram, 1st Duc de Valangin, 1st Sovereign Prince de Neuchâtel , was a Marshal of France, Vice-Constable of France beginning in 1808, and Chief of Staff under Napoleon.-Early life:Alexandre was born at Versailles to Lieutenant-Colonel Jean Baptiste Berthier ,...

  • Marquis de Caulaincourt
    Armand Augustin Louis de Caulaincourt
    Armand-Augustin-Louis, marquis de Caulaincourt, 1st Duc de Vicence was a French general and diplomat.-Biography:...

     (silent role)
  • General Belliard
    Augustin Daniel Belliard
    Augustin Daniel Belliard, comte Belliard et de l'Empire was a French general.Belliard became an officer between 1792 and 1793 under Dumouriez in Belgium...

  • Monsieur de Beausset (tenor)
  • General Count von Bennigsen
    Levin August, Count von Bennigsen
    Levin August Gottlieb Theophil , Count von Bennigsen was a German general in the service of the Russian Empire....

  • Prince Mikhail Barclay de Tolly
    Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly
    Prince Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly , was a Russian Field Marshal and Minister of War during Napoleon's invasion in 1812 and War of the Sixth Coalition.-Early life:...


  • General Aleksey Yermolov
    Aleksey Petrovich Yermolov
    Aleksey Petrovich Yermolov , or Ermolov , was a Russian Imperial general of the 19th century who commanded Russian troops in the Caucasus War.-Early life:...

  • General Pyotr Konovnitsyn (tenor)
  • General Nikolay Raevsky
    Nikolay Raevsky
    Nikolay Nikolayevich Raevsky was a Russian general and statesman who achieved fame for his feats of arms during the Napoleonic wars. His family left a lasting legacy in Russian society and culture.-Early life:Nikolay Raevsky was born in Saint Petersburg...

  • Malasha, a young girl (silent role)
  • Captain Ramballe (bass)
  • Lieutenant Bonnet (tenor)
  • Ivanov, a Muscovite (tenor)
  • Jacquot (bass)
  • Gérard (tenor)
  • Mavra Kusminitchna (alto)
  • Marshal Davout (bass)

Unnamed characters are:

The Host at the ball and his Major-Domo (tenors), Prince Nikolai Bolkonsky's servants - his Major-Domo and an old servant (baritones) and a housemaid (soprano), a French Abbé (tenor), two Prussian Generals (speaking roles), two staff-officers (tenor and bass), Prince Andrei's Orderly (tenor), Adjutants to General Compans and Prince Eugène (tenors) and to Marshal Murat (treble), Aides-de-camp to Napoleon (bass) and Kutuzov (tenor), an off-stage Orderly (tenor), a young workman (tenor), a shopkeeper (soprano), a French Officer (baritone), three Madmen (tenor, baritone, silent role), two French Actresses (soprano), an escort (silent role).

Part 1 (Peace)

The Overture or the Epigraph usually precedes the action

Scene 1: After dark, in the garden of Count Rostov's country estate, May, 1806

Andrei, who is a guest there, is depressed by the loss of his wife. Natasha, who also cannot sleep, looks out of her window and tells Sonya how beautiful the garden looks in the moonlight, and Andrei recovers his spirits.

Scene 2: New Year's Eve, 1810

At a ball in St Petersburg attended by the Tsar, Pierre encourages Andrei, who is attracted to Natasha, to ask her to dance. Anatole, also attracted to her, asks Hélène to arrange an introduction.

Scene 3: Town house of Prince Nikolai, February 1812

Count Rostov and Natasha visit Prince Nikolai's home. He is the father of Andrei, to whom she is engaged. Andrei has been abroad for a year. Princess Marya indicates that her father will not see them, and Count Rostov departs. However, the Prince, dressed eccentrically and behaving boorishly, does appear, and Natasha realises that he does not approve of the marriage.

Scene 4: Pierre's Moscow house, May 1812

Hélène tells Natasha that Anatole is attracted to her, and, after some hesitation, Natasha hears his declaration of love and agrees to meet him.

Scene 5: Dolokhov's apartment, 12 June 1812

Dolokhov has made the arrangements for his friend Anatole's elopement with Natasha. The coach-driver Balaga, Dolokhov and Anatole drink to the escapade and to the latter's mistress Matriosha.

Scene 6: Later that night

Natasha discovers that Sonya has given away her secret to Madame Akhrosimova, with whom they are staying. Anatole and Dolokhov are sent away by Gavrila, and Akhrosimova reduces Natasha to tears. Pierre arrives, reveals that Anatole is married, and agrees to ask Andrei to forgive Natasha. He shyly admits that he himself would want to marry her if he were free. Natasha makes her peace with Sonya.

Scene 7: Later still

Hélène is entertaining Anatole, Metivier and an Abbé. Pierre, returning home, upbraids Anatole and demands that he leave Moscow immediately. He agrees, and Pierre is left alone to bemoan his own circumstances. Denisov arrives with the news that Napoleon and his army are crossing into Russia. War is inevitable.

Part 2 (War)

The Epigraph is usually performed here if it was not used at the start of Part 1.

Scene 8: Near Borodino, 25 August 1812

Amid preparations for the defence of Moscow, Andrei and Denisov discuss utilising partisans to make life difficult for Napoleon's army. Pierre, wanting to observe the scene, arrives, and he and Andrei embrace, perhaps for the last time. Field-Marshal Kutuzov offers Andrei a position on his staff, but Andrei prefers to go into battle with his own regiment. The battle starts.

Scene 9: Later that day

Napoleon ponders his position, first refusing to commit more men, then agreeing. An unexploded cannon-ball lands at his feet and he kicks it away.

Scene 10: Two days later

Kutuzov and his generals are holding a Council of War at Fili, near Smolensk. The army will be at risk if Moscow is to be defended to the last - but if the army retreats, Moscow will be at the mercy of the French. Kutuzov decides that only by retreating, and potentially sacrificing Moscow, will there be any hope of victory.

Scene 11: Moscow is burning

The city is on fire because its citizens try to avoid a surrender. Pierre is caught up among some Muscovites, including the veteran Platon Karataev, who are accused by the French of fire-raising. As the asylum and theatre burn, lunatics and actresses flee - but Napoleon has to admit that the courage of the people has frustrated his plans.

Scene 12: In a peasant's hut at Mitishi

The wounded Prince Andrei, delirious, has been evacuated with the Rostovs from Moscow. Natasha, who had been unaware that he was among her fellow evacuees, visits him. She tries to apologise for her conduct, but he again declares his love for her, and they sing of their happiness as Natasha reassures him that he will live. He falls asleep, and his heartbeat (conveyed by an offstage chorus) stops for ever.

Scene 13: November, 1812

On the road to Smolensk, the retreating French are escorting a group of prisoners through a snow-storm. Karataev cannot keep up and is shot, but Pierre and the others are rescued by the partisans. Denisov tells Pierre that Andrei is dead but that Natasha is alive and well. Kutuzov and his men rejoice in their victory, and celebrate the indomitable will of the Russian people.


Broadly speaking, the music for Part 1 is lyrical and that for Part 2 is dramatic. There are a number of arias, though these are rarely free-standing and are usually preceded and/or followed by arioso or short conversational passages. Dance music is prominent in Part 1, military music and choruses in Part 2. A number of themes, associated especially with Natasha, Andrei and Pierre, recur throughout the opera. Prokofiev borrowed Natasha's and Andrei's principal themes from incidental music that he had written for a dramatisation of Pushkin's Eugene Onegin
Eugene Onegin
Eugene Onegin is a novel in verse written by Alexander Pushkin.It is a classic of Russian literature, and its eponymous protagonist has served as the model for a number of Russian literary heroes . It was published in serial form between 1825 and 1832...

: Natasha's theme had been associated with Lensky, and Andrei's with Tatyana. Kutuzov's aria in Scene 10 (also sung by the chorus at the end of the opera) re-used music
Ivan the Terrible (Prokofiev)
Ivan the Terrible is music by Sergei Prokofiev originally composed for the Sergei Eisenstein film about the sixteenth-century ruler. Prokofiev composed music to Part 1 in 1942-44, and to Part 2 in 1945; the score is cataloged as Op. 116...

 that Prokofiev had written for Eisenstein
Sergei Eisenstein
Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein , né Eizenshtein, was a pioneering Soviet Russian film director and film theorist, often considered to be the "Father of Montage"...

's film Ivan the Terrible
Ivan the Terrible (film)
Ivan the Terrible is a two-part historical epic film about Ivan IV of Russia made by Russian director Sergei Eisenstein. Part 1 was released in 1944 but Part 2 was not released until 1958 due to political censorship...




2 Flutes
2 Oboes
Cor Anglais
2 Clarinets

Bass Clarinet
2 Bassoons
4 Horns
3 Trumpets

3 Trombones

Strings (1st and 2nd Violins, Violas, Cellos, Double basses)
Percussion (Triangle, Wooden Drum, Tambourine, Snare Drum, Bass Drum, Cymbals, Tam-tam, Glockenspiel, Xylophone)


Year Cast:
Andrei Bolkonsky,
Prince Mikhail Kutuzov
Opera House and Orchestra
1953 Rosanna Carteri,
Franco Corelli,
Ettore Bastiannini,
Italo Tajo
Artur Rodziński
Artur Rodzinski
Artur Rodziński was a Polish conductor of opera and symphonic music. He is especially noted for his tenures as music director of the Cleveland Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic in the 1930s and 1940s.-Biography:...

Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
Maggio Musicale Fiorentino is an annual opera festival which was founded in April 1933 by conductor Vittorio Gui with the aim of presenting contemporary and forgotten operas in visually dramatic productions. It was the first music festival in Italy. The first opera presented was Verdi's early...

 Orchestra and Chorus
(Recording of a performance at the Maggio Musicale Fioerentino, May)
Audio CD: Andromeda/Melodram
Cat: ANDRCD 5022
1961 Galina Vishnevskaya,
Vladimir Petrov,
Yevgeny Kibkalo,
Alexei Krivchenya
Alexander Melik-Pashayev
Alexander Melik-Pashayev
Alexander Shamil'evich Melik-Pashayev was a Soviet- conductor.-External links:**...

Bolshoi Theatre
Bolshoi Theatre
The Bolshoi Theatre is a historic theatre in Moscow, Russia, designed by architect Joseph Bové, which holds performances of ballet and opera. The Bolshoi Ballet and Bolshoi Opera are amongst the oldest and most renowned ballet and opera companies in the world...

 Orchestra and Chorus
Audio CD: BMG
Bertelsmann Music Group, , was a division of Bertelsmann before its completion of sale of the majority of its assets to Japan's Sony Corporation of America on October 1, 2008. It was established in 1987 to combine the music label activities of Bertelsmann...

Melodiya is a Russian record label. It was the state-owned major record company/label of the Soviet Union.-History:It was established in 1964 as the "All-Union Gramophone Record Firm of the USSR Ministry of Culture Melodiya"...

Cat: 74321 29 350-2
1986 Galina Vishnevskaya,
Wieslaw Ochman
Wieslaw Ochman
Wiesław Ochman is a Polish tenor.Ochman began learning voice under the direction of Gustaw Serafin in Kraków and Maria Szłapak in Bytom . In 1960 he joined the Silesian Opera in Bytom, where Ochman sang for three seasons, in 1963 and 1964; and then, at the Opera Krakowska...

Lajos Miller,
Nicola Ghiuselev 
Mstislav Rostropovich
Mstislav Rostropovich
Mstislav Leopoldovich Rostropovich, KBE , known to close friends as Slava, was a Soviet and Russian cellist and conductor. He was married to the soprano Galina Vishnevskaya. He is widely considered to have been the greatest cellist of the second half of the 20th century, and one of the greatest of...

ORTF National Orchestra
Orchestre National de France
The Orchestre national de France is a symphony orchestra run by Radio France. It has also been known as the Orchestre national de la Radiodiffusion française and Orchestre national de l'Office de Radiodiffusion Télévision Française .Since 1944, the orchestra has been based in the Théâtre...

 and Chorus
Audio CD: Erato
Erato Records
Erato Records is a record label founded in 1953 to promote French classical music. In 1992 it became part of Warner Bros. Records. In 1999 Erato launched a subsidiary Detour Records....

Cat: 2292-45331-2
1991 Yelena Prokina,
Gegam Gregoriam,
Alexandr Gergavov,
Nikolai Okhotnikov
Valery Gergiev
Valery Gergiev
Valery Abisalovich Gergiev is a Russian conductor and opera company director. He is general director and artistic director of the Mariinsky Theatre, principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, and artistic director of the White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg.- Early life :Gergiev,...

Kirov Theatre Orchestra and Chorus
Audio CD: Philips
Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V. , more commonly known as Philips, is a multinational Dutch electronics company....

Cat: 434 097-2
DVD: Kultur, Cat: D 2903;
Arthaus Musik, Cat: 100 370
1999 Ekaterina Morozova,
Justin Lavender,
Oleg Balachov,
Roderick Williams
Richard Hickox
Richard Hickox
Richard Sidney Hickox CBE was an English conductor of choral, orchestral and operatic music.-Early life:Hickox was born in Stokenchurch in Buckinghamshire into a musical family...

Spoleto Festival
Festival dei Due Mondi
The Festival dei Due Mondi ' is an annual summer music and opera festival held each June to early July in Spoleto, Italy, since its founding by composer Gian Carlo Menotti in 1958...

 Orchestra and State Symphony Capella of Russia
State Symphony Capella of Russia
The State Symphony Capella of Russia comprises an orchestra and choir, both based in Moscow, Russia. Its principal conductor is Valery Polyansky...

(Recorded in the Teatro Nuovo, Spoleto, 4,6,8-10 July)
Audio CD: Chandos Records
Chandos Records
Chandos Records is an independent classical music recording company based in Colchester, Essex, in the United Kingdom, founded in 1979 by Brian Couzens.- Background :...

Cat: CHAN 9855
2000 Olga Gouriakova,
Robert Brubaker
Robert Brubaker (tenor)
Robert Brubaker is an American operatic tenor. Born in Manheim, Pennsylvania, he is an alumnus of the Hartt College of Music. He began his career at the New York City Opera as a baritone in the opera chorus...

Nathan Gunn
Nathan Gunn
Nathan Gunn is an operatic baritone from the United States.He has appeared in many of world's well-known opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, Seattle Opera, Dallas Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh Opera,...

Anatoli Kotcherga
Gary Bertini
Gary Bertini
Gary Bertini was an Israeli conductor.-Biography:Gary Bertini was born Shloyme Golergant in Bricheva, Bessarabia, then in Romania, now in Donduşeni District, Moldova. His father, K. A. Bertini , was a poet and translator of the Russian and Yiddish Gary Bertini (Hebrew: גארי ברתיני) (born 1 May...

Paris Opera Orchestra and Chorus
(Video recording of a performance in the Opéra Bastille, Paris)
, formerly , is a Japanese company which manufactures electronic materials, electronic components, and recording and data-storage media, and markets them globally. Their motto is "Contribute to culture and industry through creativity"...

Cat: DV-OPWP (Europe); DVUS-OPWP (USA)

External links