Comic opera by Igor Stravinsky
Mavra by L. Bakst 01.jpeg
Sketch of a costume by Léon Bakst
LibrettistBoris Kochno
Based onThe Little House in Kolomna
by Aleksandr Pushkin
3 June 1922 (1922-06-03)
Théatre national de l'Opéra, Paris

Mavra is a one-act comic opera composed by Igor Stravinsky, and one of the earliest works of Stravinsky's neo-classical period. The libretto of the opera, by Boris Kochno, is based on Alexander Pushkin's The Little House in Kolomna. Mavra is about 25 minutes long, and features two arias, a duet, and a quartet performed by its cast of four characters. The opera has been characterised as both an homage to Russian writers, and a satire of bourgeois manners and the Romeo and Juliet subgenre of romance. Philip Truman has also described the music as satirising 19th-century comic opera.[1] The dedication on the score is to the memory of Pushkin, Glinka and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.[2][3]

Mavra premiered in Paris on 3 June 1922, staged under the auspices of Sergei Diaghilev, with Oda Slobdoskaya, Zoïa Rosovska and Bélina Skoupevski among the original cast, at the Théatre national de l'Opéra, orchestra conducted by Grzegorz Fitelberg.[2][4] The opera was a failure at the premiere, partly because the large space of the Paris Opéra overwhelmed the small scale of the opera.[3] One critic, Émile Vuillermoz, so enraged Stravinsky that he cut the review out and pasted it onto his manuscript copy.[5][6]

Stravinsky himself thought very highly of this composition, saying once that "Mavra seems to me the best thing I've done".[7] Erik Satie praised the work after its premiere.[8] Stravinsky himself reacted with hostility to people who criticized it in later years.[9]

The opera was given its United States premiere by the Philadelphia Grand Opera Company at the Academy of Music, Philadelphia on December 28, 1934 with Maria Kurenko as Parasha and Alexander Smallens conducting. The Santa Fe Opera mounted Mavra in 1962.

The first aria of the work has been arranged for cello and piano, and recorded with Mstislav Rostropovich under the title "Russian Song".


Place: Russian village
Time: Circa 1840

Parasha is in love with her neighbour, Vassili, a young hussar, but they have difficulty in meeting. After they sing a duet, Vassili leaves, and then Parasha's mother enters. She is lamenting the difficulty of finding a new maid-servant after their prior maid-servant, Thecla, died. The mother orders her daughter to find a new maid-servant. Parasha comes up with a scheme to smuggle Vassili into her house disguised as Mavra, a female maid-servant. The ruse initially succeeds, and Parasha and Vassili are happy at being under the same roof. Parasha and her mother go out for a walk. At one moment, Vassili shaves. The ladies return, disconcerted to see their new maid-servant shaving. Vassili escapes out the window, her mother faints, the next door neighbour rushes in to try to help, and Parasha laments the loss of her young love.


Role Voice type Premiere cast, 3 June 1922

(Conductor: Gregor Fitelberg)

Parasha soprano Oda Slobodskaya
Her mother contralto Zoia Rososvka
Sodedkan (Neighbour's wife) mezzo soprano Hélène Sadovène
Vassili (Mavra) tenor Bélina Skoupevski
A neighbor



  1. Overture
  2. Parasha's song
  3. Hussar's gypsy song
  4. Dialogue
  5. The mother's song
  6. Dialogue
  7. Duet
  8. Dialogue
  9. Quartet
  10. Dialogue
  11. Duet
  12. Dialogue
  13. Mavra's song
  14. Coda



  1. ^ Truman, Philip, "An Aspect of Stravinsky's Russianism: Ritual" (1992). Revue belge de Musicologie/Belgisch Tijdschrift voor Muziekwetenschap, 46: pp. 225-246.
  2. ^ a b This information is from the Boosey & Hawkes 1947 reprint (copyright assigned to Boosey & Hawkes) of the 1925 Édition Russe de Musique vocal score of this work (based on a copy of this vocal score in the library of the State University of New York @ Fredonia.) B&H plate 16304.
  3. ^ a b Robinson, Harlow (1989). "The Case of the Three Russians: Stravinsky, Prokofiev, and Shostakovich". The Opera Quarterly. 6 (3): 59–75. doi:10.1093/oq/6.3.59. Retrieved 2007-10-05.
  4. ^ Elizabeth Forbes, "A soprano's memories" (review of Slobdoskaya by Maurice Leonard). The Musical Times , 120(1640, p. 835 (1979).
  5. ^ Vuillermoz's review in Excelsior (Paris), 12 June 1922, trans. Tamara Levitz, in Levitz, Stravinsky and His World, p. 28. Retrieved 15 February 2017
  6. ^ Levitz, p. 55, footnote 36. Retrieved 15 February 2017
  7. ^ Stuart Campbell , "The 'Mavras' of Pushkin, Kochno and Stravinsky". Music & Letters, 58(3), pp. 304-317 (July 1977).
  8. ^ Peter Dickinson, Review of The Writings of Erik Satie (translated and edited by Nigel Wilkins). Music & Letters, 63(3/4), pp. 293-295 (July–October 1982).
  9. ^ Stephen Walsh, Review of Stravinsky and the Russian Traditions: A Biography of the Works Through "Mavra" by Richard Taruskin. Music & Letters, 78(3), pp. 450-455 (August 1997).
  10. ^ Eric Walter White (1979). Stravinsky, the Composer and His Works. University of California Press. ISBN 0520039831.
  11. ^ "EL PELELE (J. Gómez) - MAVRA (I. Stravinsky)". 29 March 2016. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  12. ^ Mellers, Wilfrid, Review of recording of Mavra and The Wedding (1968). The Musical Times, 109 (1500): p. 151.
  13. ^ Hecht, Rite of Spring; Mavra. American Record Guide; Jan/Feb2007, Vol. 70 Issue 1, p175-176, 2p

External links

  • Scholten, Jaroen. 1999. "Mavra". Retrieved January 27, 2006.
  • Boosey & Hawkes Opera. "Mavra". Retrieved January 27, 2006.

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