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date: 28 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the tension between national and international operatic repertories in the case of nineteenth-century Russia. It discusses conceptual problems associated with the notion of a national canon, which is frequently conceived of in a binary opposition to an international or universal one. The discussion of Russian musical life charts the reception of foreign repertories as well as the canonization of Mikhail Glinka’s operas Zhizn’ za tsarya (A life for the tsar, 1836) and Ruslan i Lyudmila (Ruslan and Lyudmila, 1842), and concludes by showing how the tensions between foreign and domestic works played out differently in critical and historical writing from the way they did in the performing repertory. This chapter is paired with William Weber’s “The survival of English opera in nineteenth-century concert life.”

Keywords: national identity, music criticism, Russian opera, Mariinsky Theater, Mikhail Glinka, national canon

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