Vanka the Steward
Projected opera (1881).
On 30 October/11 November 1881, while visiting Kiev, Tchaikovsky attended a performance of Vanka the Steward, Luka Antropov’s stage version of Dmitry Averkiev’s tale Drunken Night. The following day the composer told Pyotr Jurgenson that he was considering Averkiev’s story as the basis for his next opera, and asked him to try to find a printed copy of it in Moscow, adding: "I can’t decide whether to make this into an opera, or to write Mazepa. The subject of Vanka the Steward is very appealing to me" .
After having read the play, Tchaikovsky wrote again to his publisher on 16/28 November, asking him to try to contact Averkiev to see if he would be willing to write a libretto for the opera . "Today I received a reply from Averkiev", Jurgenson reported back on 3/15 December. "He will gladly take care of the libretto... He wanted to have your address, but because I did not have it, I told him to write to you in Rome poste restante" . However, by 4/16 January 1882, Tchaikovsky had still not received the libretto. "There has been nothing whatever for me poste restante", he told Jurgenson, "And to tell the truth, I’m glad about this because I’m not disposed at the moment to think seriously about opera" . Tchaikovsky soon resumed work on Mazepa, and nothing more was heard about Vanka the Steward.
The Tchaikovsky Handbook, vol. 1 (2002), p. 404
This page was last updated on 13 February 2013