The Miserly Knight
The Miserly Knight, also The Covetous Knight, (Russian: Скупой рыцарь, Skupój rýtsar’) is a Russian opera in one act with music by Sergei Rachmaninoff, with the libretto based on Alexander Pushkin's drama of the same name. It contains roles for five male singers, but no females. The composer decided essentially to set the Pushkin text as written, and had Feodor Chaliapin in mind for the role of the Baron, however, Chaliapin withdrew from the production over artistic differences.
The first performance was on 24 January (11 January OS) 1906 at the Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow, with the composer himself conducting, in a double-bill performance with another Rachmaninoff opera written contemporaneously, Francesca da Rimini. The director was Vasiliy Shkafer.
24 January 1906
conductor: Sergei Rachmaninoff
|Baron (i.e., the knight of the opera's title)||baritone||Georges Baklanoff|
|Albert (Albyer), his son||tenor||Anton Bonachich|
|Ivan, servant (sluga)||bass|
|Moneylender (Torgovyets)||tenor||Stepan Barsukov|
|Duke (Gyertsog)||baritone||Ivan Gryzunov|
- Place: England
- The Middle Ages
Albert is a young knight who devotes himself to jousting and courtly pleasures, but is now deeply in debt as a result. His father, a very wealthy but equally frugal baron, refuses to support his son's lifestyle. Albert's ability to maneuver in society is now limited, and he tries to obtain a loan from outside his family. A money-lender denies Albert a loan, but instead offers Albert poison, to allow Albert to murder his father. Albert is appalled at such a suggestion. He resolves then to go to the Duke to make his appeal.
The Baron descends to his cellars, exultant now because he has accumulated enough gold to fill his sixth and final storage chest, and gloats before them. However, he realizes that if he died soon, his son Albert could then claim the fortune and fritter it away on his sensual pleasures.
Albert has appealed to the Duke for help in obtaining money from his father. Albert hides, as the Duke summons the Baron to a meeting. The Duke asks the Baron to support his son, but the Baron accuses Albert of wanting to steal from him. Albert then angrily reveals his presence and accuses his own father of lying. The Baron challenges Albert to a duel, and Albert accepts. The duke rebukes the father, and banishes the son from his court. However, stressed by this confrontation, the baron collapses fatally. As the Baron dies, his last request is not for his son, but the keys to his chests of gold.
- Melodiya Records SRBL 4121 as The Covetous Knight: Lev Kuznetsov, Ivan Budrin. Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra; Gennady Rozhdestvensky, conductor. 2 LPs, with Isle of the Dead, by the U.S.S.R. Symphony Orchestra with Yevgeny Svetlanov, conductor.
- Deutsche Grammophon 453 454-2: Anatoly Kocherga, Sergei Aleksashkin, Sergei Larin; Gothenburg Opera Chorus; Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra; Neeme Järvi, conductor
- Chandos 10264: Mikhail Guzhov, Vsevolod Grivnov, Andrei Baturkin, Borislav Molchanov, Vitaly Efanov; Russian State Symphony Orchestra; Valeri Polyansky, conductor
- Opus Arte OA 0909: Sergei Leiferkus, Richard Berkeley-Steele, Maxim Mikhailov, Vyacheslav Voynarovsky, Albert Schagidullin, Matilda Leyser; London Philharmonic Orchestra; Vladimir Jurowski, conductor
- Geoffrey Norris, "Bold reunion of the old companions ". Telegraph, 19 March 2002.
- Geoffrey Norris, "Rachmaninov's last bastion". Telegraph, 21 June 2004
- Steve Griffiths, Review of vocal scores of Rachmaninoff's Francesca da Rimini and The Miserly Knight, Musical Times, 136(1825), 148 (1995)
- Andrew Clements, "The Miserly Knight/Gianni Schicchi". The Guardian, 3 July 2004.
- Anthony Holden, "Even the corpse is fantastic". The Observer, 4 July 2004.
- Tim Ashley, "Glyndebourne double bill" (review of Prom 55, 2004). The Guardian, 28 August 2004.