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Two Stravinsky One Acts September 8 on The Lyric Stage

We have two contrasting Stravinsky one acts this week on The Lyric Stage. Igor Stravinsky was 40 and living in Paris when he composed his one act opera buffa Mavra, at the beginning of his "neo-classical" period. Boris Kochna wrote the libtretto based on a Pushkin short story. The dedication on the score is to Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky.

Parasha is in love with her neighbour, Vassili, but they have trouble having regular meetings. But Parasha's mother needs a new maid, so Parasha decides to smuggle Vassili into her house disguised as Mavra, a female maid-servant. The ruse succeeds, and Parasha and Vassili are happy at being under the same roof. But one day the women return from a walk to see their new maid-servant shaving. Vassili escapes out the window, Parasha's mother faints, and the next door neighbour rushes in to try to help, as Parasha laments the loss of her young love.

Mavra premiered in Paris on June 3, 1922, staged under the auspices of Sergei Diaghilev. The audience did not like it, perhaps because the huge Paris Opera stage overwhelmed the small scale of the four character work. But Strasvinsky liked the work, and defended it, at one point saying "Mavra seems to me the best thing I've done". The Philadelphia Grand Opera Company gave the US premiere in 1934 at the Academy of Music, Philadelphia. 

Mavra is the second of the Stravinsky one acts we have on The Lyric Stage this week, which begins with his 1962 opera commissioned by CBS for television, The Flood. While Mavra is a playful story of young love and innocent deception, The Flood is a short biblical drama on the allegory of Noah. It contains singing, spoken dialogue, and ballet sequences while juxataposing the story of the Creation with that of Noah. It's serial musical style is as far removed from Stravinsky's early neo-classical period as the nature of the story is from that of Mavra's.