Fomka the Fool

Fomka the Fool (Fomka-durachok: Russian: Фомка-дурачок) is a one-act opera by Anton Rubinstein to a libretto by M. L. Mikhaylov. It was given its only performance in 1853.


Fomka was the second of Rubinstein's operas to be performed. It was commissioned, together with two other one-act operas, The Siberian Hunters and Vengeance, by the Grand Duchess Yelena Pavlovna. The first performance was on 12 May [O.S. 30 April] 1853 at the Alexandrinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg. The title role was sung by Lev Leonov, the son of the pianist John Field.

The performance appears to have been a disaster. The composer wrote 'It was performed in such a way that I gathered everything up and do not intend to give any more of my works on the Russian stage [...] [The performers] missed out whole bars, came in early, forgot their parts [..]'[1] Rubinstein went to the theatre office the next day and insisted that his score be returned to him.[2] The failure was an incentive for Rubinstein to quit Russia to seek a career in Western Europe. Although Rubinstein offered the opera to Franz Liszt to be performed in Weimar in 1854,[3] the score now appears to be lost.


Role Voice type Premiere Cast, 12 May [O.S. 30 April] 1853
(Conductor: )
Miron, the village starosta Zhivov
Anyushka, his daughter soprano Emilia Lileyeva
Fyodor, her fiancé Pavel Bulakhov
Fomka the Fool tenor Lev Leonov
Panteley baritone Semen Hulak-Artemovsky
Stepanova, a matchmaker soprano Marya Leonova


  1. ^ letter from Rubinstein to his mother, quoted in Taylor (2007), 40-41
  2. ^ Rubinstein (2005), 38
  3. ^ Taylor (2007), 51
  • Rubinstein, Anton, ed. L. I. Barenboym, Autobiograficheskiye Rasskazi (in Russian), St. Peterburg, 2005 ISBN 5-7379-0281-1
  • Taylor, Philip S., Anton Rubinstein: a Life in Music, Bloomington and Indianapolis, 2007 ISBN 978-0-253-34871-5

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