Amanda Holden's New Penguin Opera Guide (page 754), and its
earlier manifestation, The Viking Opera Guide (page 870), contain
the assertion that "the swan princess's motif [in Rimsky's Tsar Saltan]
is based, probably unconsciously, on a beautiful melody from Tchaikovsky's
opera Vakula the Smith; the
opening is identical, though changed to the major mode." The article is by
Edward Garden, but I think I remember reading something similar years ago
in a book by Gerald Abraham. I do not have a score of Vakula, but I do
have a VS of Cherevichki
(as well as a VS of Tsar Saltan), but so far I cannot find the Tchaikovsky
melody referred to. Can anyone help me here?
In reply to Mr. Deane's enquiry, Edward Garden covers the point in
fuller detail in his 'Master Musicians' biography of Tchaikovsky, quoting
the relevant material from Vakula the Smith
as musical extract No. 8(a) (Vakula's aria in C minor, Act 2 scene 1).
Depending on whether one consults the book in its original (1973)
pagination, or in that of the cenntenial (1993) reprint, the extract
appears on p. 56 or p. 52, respectively. The influence on Rimsky-Korsakov
as Professor Garden outlines it is apparent.