The Portrait (opera)

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The Portrait
Opera by Mieczysław Weinberg
Native title
Russian: Портрет
LibrettistAlexander Medvedev
Based onThe Portrait
by Nikolai Gogol
20 May 1983 (1983-05-20)

The Portrait (Russian: Портрет) is an opera in eight scenes composed by Mieczysław Weinberg to a libretto by Alexander Medvedev based on Nikolai Gogol's short story The Portrait.

A penniless artist, Chartkov, finds a magical painting that offers him a dilemma — to struggle to make his own way in the world on the basis of his own talents, or to accept the assistance of the magic painting to guaranteed riches and fame. He chooses to become rich and famous, but soon comes to realise that he has made the wrong choice in this satire on artistic integrity and the art market.

The opera was composed in 1980 and received its first performance on 20 May 1983 at the Janáček State Theatre in Brno.[1] The first performance of the reduced version took place in 1992 in Moscow performed by the Moscow Chamber Opera. After years of obscurity, The Portrait saw a revival at the Bregenzer Festspiele in July 2010,[2] in a production by John Fulljames that also appeared in Kaiserslautern in December of that year, with both runs sung in German. A second production, by David Pountney, was toured by Opera North in February 2011 in English (the British premiere)[3] and in Nancy by the Opéra national de Lorraine in April 2011, sung in Russian. [4]


  • Chartkov, a painter (tenor)[5]
  • Nikita, Chartkov's valet (baritone)
  • Journalist (baritone)
  • Lamplighter (tenor)
  • Chartkov's painting teacher (baritone)
  • Art store owner / Dignitary (bass)
  • Landlord / Count (baritone)
  • District chief / General (bass)
  • Market woman / Lady-in-waiting (soprano)
  • First merchant / First waiter / Turk (tenor)
  • Second merchant / Second waiter /Cavalryman of the Guards (tenor)
  • Third merchant (bass)
  • Distinguished lady (mezzo-soprano)
  • Lisa, her daughter (soprano)
  • Nobleman (tenor)

Dancers and mute roles: girl from the painting of Psyche, old man from Petromikhali's portrait, people at the market, visitors at the vernissage

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "Almanacco di Gherardo Casaglia, 20 May 1983". AmadeusOnline. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  2. ^ Bregenzer Festspiele (2010)
  3. ^ Darlington and Stockton Times (12 February 2010)
  4. ^ "The Portrait, Opera North, Grand Theatre, Leeds, review". 3 February 2011. Retrieved 3 January 2016.
  5. ^ Roles and voice descriptions based on Sikorski Musikverlage (2 June 2010)