The Adventures of a Monkey is a new work by Rodion Shchedrin, created in 2020. The composer has given to it the following subtitle: "a musical narrative based on Mikhail Zoshchenko's eponymous tale, a concerto for narrator, trumpet, horn, flute, harp and two percussionists accompanied by string orchestra and cembalo in memory of Maya Plisetskaya who dearly loved this story".
For such a composer as Rodion Shchedrin, with his ability to create voluminous musical character, grasp a given gesture and convey a certain individual intonation, The Adventures of a Monkey is a veritable gold mine of ideas. With Zoshchenko there was ready-made dramaturgy (with a beginning, two culminations, a dénouement and an epilogue), as well as a contrasting sequence of "crowd" and "chamber" scenes and "arched" constructions. The characters of the story are just as colourful and varied as the instruments in the orchestra and actually "suggest" leitmotifs. This "musical reading" of Zoshchenko's vivid and dynamic story promises audiences many of the numerous interesting and witty innovations for which Rodion Shchedrin is so famous. The composer has dedicated his new opus to his late wife, the legendary ballerina Maya Plisetskaya, who dearly loved this tale by Zoshchenko.
The role of the Narrator in "The Adventures of a Monkey" was undertaken by Polina Malikova (Tolstun), an actress of the Tovstonogov Bolshoi Drama Theatre. The Mariinsky Orchestra was conducted by Valery Gergiev.