Undina (Tchaikovsky)

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For other uses, see Undine (disambiguation).

Undina (sometimes Undine or Ondine) (Russian: Ундина) is an opera in 3 acts by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The work was composed in 1869. The libretto was written by Vladimir Sollogub, and is based on Vasily Zhukovsky's translation of Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué's Ondine.


The opera was composed during the months of January to July, 1869, but Tchaikovsky destroyed the score in 1873, preserving only a few numbers from the opera. The opera has never been performed in its entirety.

The only extracts that survive are:

  1. Introduction
  2. Aria: "Waterfall, my uncle, streamlet, my brother" (Undina)
  3. Chorus: "Help, help! Our stream is raging"
  4. Duet: "O happiness, O blessed moment" (Undina, Huldbrand)
  5. Chorus: "O hours of death" (soloists, chorus)

At least three of these pieces - the aria, the duet, and the final chorus - were performed at the Moscow premiere at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow on 28 March 1870.

Some music from the opera was subsequently re-used in Tchaikovsky's other works:

  • The bridal procession of Act 3 was adapted for the Andantino marziale of his Symphony No. 2 "Little Russian" (1872).
  • The introduction was used unchanged as the introduction to his incidental music to Ostrovsky's The Snow Maiden (1873).
  • Undina's aria was somewhat altered and put to use as the first song of Lel in The Snow Maiden.
  • The duet was recycled as the duet (No. 13-V) of Siegfried and Odette in Act 2 of Swan Lake (1875–1876). The vocal parts were replaced by solo cello and violin.


Role Voice type Premiere cast
March 28 [OS March 16], 1870
(Conductor: Eduard Merten)[1]
Goldmann, an old fisherman bass
Bertha, his wife mezzo-soprano
Undina, their adopted daughter soprano A. Alexandrova-Kochetova
Huldbrand, a knight tenor Aleksandr Dodonov
The Duke bass
Berthalda, the Duke's daughter mezzo-soprano
Chorus, silent roles: People


Source: Tchaikovsky Research

  • Strings: Violins, Violas, Cellos, and Double Basses
  • Woodwinds: Piccolo, 2 Flutes, 2 Oboes, 2 Clarinets ( B-flat), 2 Bassoons
  • Brass: 4 Horns (all F), 2 Trumpets (B-flat), 2 Trombones, Tuba
  • Percussion: Timpani, Triangle, Cymbals, Bass Drum
  • Other: Harp, Piano


Time: The 15th century

Place: Germany, near the Danube; Ringstetten Castle (Burg Ringstetten)


Vocal Numbers

  • Tchaikovsky, Peter. "Excerpts from the Opera Undine" Tamara Milashkina (Undine), Evgenii Raikov (Gulbrand), vocalists ; Moscow Radio Chorus, Konstantin Lebedev, director; Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra, Evgenii Akulov, conductor. Melodiya / ABC Westminster Gold WGS 8300, 1975. LP.

This recording is paired with Anton Arensky's Music to Pushkin's poem The Fountains of Bakhchisarai, Op. 46, and features three selections from Undina: Act I: Undine's Song; Act III: Duet of Undine and Gulbrand; Act I: Finale.

  • Tchaikovsky, Peter. "Undine: fragments from the unfinished opera" Tamara Milashkina (Undine), Evgenii Raikov (Gulbrand), vocalists ; Moscow Radio Chorus, Konstantin Lebedev, director; Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra, Evgenii Akulov, conductor. Melodiya, 1988. CD.

A reissue of the earlier pressing on LP, this recording is paired with Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 conducted by Yevgeny Svetlanov. The CD was subsequently re-released by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab (Petaluma, CA) in 1989.

  • Tchaikovsky, Peter. "Vodopad moy dyadya" from Undina, On Guilty Pleasures. Renée Fleming, soprano; Philharmonia Orchestra; Sebastian Lang-Lessing, conductor. London/Decca B0019033-02, 2013. CD.


  1. ^ Eduard Merten became 2nd conductor at the Bolshoi Theatre shortly before 1870. He was "a talented pianist and composed romances, but was completely inexperienced as a conductor" (Kashkin, Erinerrungen, 64, 66) Edward H. Tarr, East Meats West; The Russian Trumpet Tradition from the Time of Peter the Great

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