New St Petersburg production of the opera "Not Love Alone"

If today, a woman at a mature age who beside of this is standing in the focus of public attention falls in love with a much younger man and then takes the decision to share her life with him, no one will possibly be surprised about or condemn her for it.

These or other expressions of female emancipation are in our time – whether on stage or in real life – already part of everyday life. Not only numerous Hollywood stars reminds us of this almost daily, but also other prominent personalities.

In 1961, when Rodion Shchedrin composed his first opera "Not Love Alone", the days were still different. Especially in the former communist Soviet Union, that feared any display of sexuality on stage as an infectious disease, as it was found in Shchedrin's opera. It acts in a Soviet kolkhoz after the Second World War, in a time that was marked by a men-shortage so that the women put on themselves had to carry the entire burden of everyday life. Such a person was the protagonist of the opera Varvara, a strong-willed middle-aged woman, who head the local collective farm and thus held an important role in the village. When she one day meets the by-trotting 17-year-old boy Volodya, she is overwhelmed by the longing for love and the desire to give herself to him, in an intensity that she did not know until then and could hardly suppress.

Although the premiere of the opera was approved by the management of the Bolshoi Theatre, where it took place in the same year, right after that, it was removed from the stage and replaced with Verdi's "Traviata". Even the resourceful interventions of the stage direction to defuse as far as possible the sexual tension in the opera, did not help further. On the contrary. Due to the changes made, the work underwent such strong cuts that its central idea, namely the presentation of the natural and familiar manners of country life and even "the whole Freudian motifs" – to allow the composer to come here to speak –, lost completely.

This year, after more than half a century after its premiere, the famous Russian director Yuri Alexandrov made the attempt to pick up the original idea behind the work in his production, and he did that with success. The first three performances of the work took place in the State Chamber Music Theatre "Saint-Petersburg Opera" accompanied by a great resonance in the media. The next performances are scheduled for May, 16th and 17th (visit the website of the theater: