The Maid of Orleans
Opera in 4 acts and 6 scenes (1878–79).
||TH 6 ; ČW 6
||December 1878–August 1879; some scenes revised October 1882
||Composer, after Vasily Zhukovsky (1783–1852), Friedrich
Schiller (1759–1805), Jules Barbier (1825–1901) and Auguste Mermet (1810–1889) 
||4 acts, 6 scenes (see below)
||Joan of Arc (Иоанна д'Арк)—soprano or mezzo-soprano
Charles VII (Король Карл VII)—tenor
Agnes Sorel (Агнесса Сорель)—soprano
d'Arc (Тибо д'Арк)—bass
Lauret (Лоре)—2nd bass
||Solo voices, Chorus (SATB) + Piccolo, 3 Flutes, 2 Oboes, English Horn,
2 Clarinets (B♭, A, C), 2 Bassoons +
4 Horns (F, D, E♭, E), 2 Cornets (B♭, A), 2 Trumpets (E♭, F, E, D, A), 3 Trombones, Tuba + Timpani,
Triangle, Tambourine, Side Drum, Bass Drum, Tam-tam, Bell (C) + Harp,
Organ, Violins I, Violins II, Violas, Cellos, Double Basses + 3
Trumpets, Wind Band (offstage)
||Vocal score arranged for voices and piano by Tchaikovsky, Iosif Kotek and Yury
Mariinsky Theatre, 13/25 February 1881, conducted by Eduard Nápravník
||Moscow (Russia): Glinka National Museum Consortium of Musical Culture (ф. 88, No. 39) — full score
Moscow (Russia): Glinka National Museum Consortium of Musical Culture (ф. 88, Nos. 40–41) —
fragments from vocal score
||Moscow: P. Jurgenson, 1899
(full score), 1880 (vocal score)
IMSLP/Petrucci Music Library
Tchaikovsky's original score contains an introduction and 23 individual numbers.
The last two acts are each divided into two scenes. The titles of numbers in
Russian (Cyrillic) are taken from the published score, with English translations
added in bold type. Vocal incipits are given in the right-hand column, with
transliterations below in italics. The numbering, titles and tempo are taken
from the first edition of the full score (published in 1899).
Andante con moto—Allegro vivo
||Chorus of Maidens (Хор девушек)
|Пока на небе не погас
Poka na nebe ne pogas
|Не подуше мне песни ваши игры
Ne podushe mne pesni vashi igry
|Пусть попрежнему свободно
Pust' poprezhnemu svobodno
|Ответь же, Иоанна
Otvet' zhe, Ioanna
||Chorus of People (Хор народа)
|Боже! Помилуй короля и наш народ!
Bozhe! Pomnilui korolia i nash narod!
|О братья и друзья
O brat'ia i druz'ia
Moderato assai quasi Andantino
|Царь вишних сил
Tsar vishnikh sil
||Joan's Aria (Ария Иоанны)
Moderato assai—Andantino. Alla breva
|Да, час настал!
Da, chas nastal!
|Но силы будут ли
No sily budut li
|Chorus of Angels (Хор ангелов)
Moderato—Allegro moderato e maestoso
|Надеть должна ты латы боевые
Nadet' dolzhna ty laty boevye
Allegro molto vivace (Tre battute)
||Chorus of Minstrels (Хор менестрелей)
|Бегут года и дни бессменой чередою
Begut goda i dni bessmenoi cheredoiu
||Gypsies' Dance (Пляска цыган)
||Dance of the Pages and Dwarves (Танец пажей
||Dance of the Clowns and Tumblers (Пляска шутов
|Доволен вами я!
Dovolen vami ia!
|О, молю, послешай: враг под Орлеаном
O, moliu, posleshai: vrag pod Orleanom
||Agnes's Arioso (Ариозо Агнессы)
|Ужасная свершается судьба
Uzhasnaia svershaetsia sud'ba
Lento con anima
|Ах, с тобой и бедствия
Akh, s toboi i bedstviia
|Archbishop's Narrative (Рассказ
|Государь, за нас всевышний
Gosudar', za nas vsevyshnii
||Joan's Narrative (Рассказ
Moderato assai quasi Andante—Moderato e semplice
|Ты ль, дивная?
Ty l', divnaia?
Moderato assai maestoso quasi Andante
|Должно молчать перед глаголом неба
Dolzhno molchat' pered glagolom neba
|Стой, стой, ты погиб!
Stoi, stoi, ty pogib!
|О Боже мой, зачем
O Bozhe moi, zachem
Marcia. Allegro moderato
Andante ma non troppo
|Воротимся, мой добрый Арк
Vorotimsia, moi dobryi Ark
Molto meno mosso
|О, не губи молю тебя
O, ne gubi moliu tebia
|Тебя, зиждителя, творца
Tebia, zizhditelia, tvortsa
Andante non troppo quasi Moderato
Andante non troppo quasi Moderato
|Как! Мне, мне любовию пылать?
Kak! Mne, mne liuboviiu pylat'?
|О, чудный, сладкий сон!
O, chudnyi, sladkii son!
|Мне небо истину вещало
Mne nebo istinu veshchalo
||Final Scene (Финальная сцена)
Moderato assai. Tempo di Marcia funebre
|Ведут! Ведут! Уж видно чародейку!
Vedut! Vedut! Uzh vidno charodeiku!
The action takes place in France in the early 15th century.
Act I. By a stream and a chapel in the village of Domremy, Joan’s
father, Thibaut, presses her to marry Raimond, but she refuses. Refugees
enter, fleeing from the conquering English army. Joan prophesies the death
of the English general, to the scepticism of the villagers, but her prophecy
is confirmed by a soldier who has returned from Orleans. The voice of an
angel tells Joan that she must lead France against her enemies. She bids
farewell to her family and friends.
Act II. In a hall in the Chinon castle, King Charles VII of France
is being entertained by dancers and tumblers. The knight Dunois presses the
King to take action about the English, but the King cannot bring himself to
leave Agnes Sorel. A dying warrior, Lauret, arrives with news of another
defeat. Just as all begin to despair, the Archbishop arrives, telling of how
an unknown girl has guided the army to victory. Joan is brought in, and she
impresses the court with her story of divine inspiration, whereupon the King
names her as commander of the French army.
Act III. Somewhere near the battlefield (Scene 1), Joan defeats
Lionel, a knight from Burgundy who is fighting on the side of the English.
She takes pity on him and spares his life. Unwillingly they fall in love.
When Dunois appears, Lionel surrenders to him, and offers to fight for
France. In the square before Rheims Cathedral (Scene 2), Thibaut interrupts
the coronation ceremony to denounce Joan as an evil sorceress. When the
Archbishop asks Joan whether she considers herself to be pure and holy, Joan
feels guilty about her love for Lionel, and fails to defend herself. A
violent storm breaks out, and the superstitious crowd interpret this as a
sign from God that Joan is guilty. The King banishes her from the city.
Act IV. Lionel finds Joan hiding in the forest (Scene 1), and they
declare their love. An angel appears and warns Joan that she will be
punished for succumbing to earthly love. English soldiers suddenly appear,
and they kill Lionel and capture Joan. At a square in
Rouen (Scene 2), Joan is tied to
the stake, and the fire is lit.
The Tchaikovsky Handbook, vol. 1 (2002), p. 47
Copyright © 2002 Alexander Poznansky and Brett Langston
Composed between early/mid December 1878 and March 1879 in Florence, Clarens and Paris. Arranged for instruments in
April–August 1879 in Kamenka and Simaki.
During the summer of 1878 Tchaikovsky began to look for a subject for a new
"Here I'm writing the Introduzione e Fuga. Both of them will go to
make up a suite, which I want to do now in order to take a long break
from symphonic music, and set about an opera. What shall it be? "Romeo" or "Les caprices de Marianne"?",
Tchaikovsky wrote in the summer of 1878  .
Many of the composer's statements dating from the summer and autumn of 1878
indicate his desire to find a plot for an opera that could inspire him. Ultimately
a subject was found. On 21 November/3 December 1878  Tchaikovsky writes to Nadezhda von Meck: "…I am attracted
by a new operatic subject, namely: The Maid of Orleans by Schiller...
The idea of writing an opera based on this story came to me in Kamenka while I was leafing through
Zhukovsky, who has translated Schiller's The Maid of Orleans. It has
wonderful potential for music... I was pondering the subject before my last
visit to Saint Petersburg,
but now I am seriously interested" .
Intending to write the libretto himself, Tchaikovsky embarked on studying
the story. The composer did not limit himself to Schiller's drama only: he sought
to incorporate a variety of historical and artistic sources . On 6/18 December
1878 he told Nadezhda von Meck:
"For the moment I have only Schiller's drama translated by Zhukovsky. Obviously
the opera text cannot be based strictly on Schiller's scenario. There are too
many characters, too many minor episodes. It requires a reworking, not just
an abridgement…" .
"I want to burrow in catalogues and obtain a small collection of books on
Jeanne d'Arc" 
. "I'm thinking a very great deal about the libretto and can't yet make a definite
plan. There's much that pleases me in Schiller, but I must admit I'm disturbed
by his disdain for historical accuracy" .
At the same time, as his work on the libretto, Tchaikovsky set about composing
music for a scene, taken "right from Zhukovsky" . "It takes place in the King's court,
starting from Joan's entrance"  .
On 5/17 December 1878 the composer told Nadezhda von Meck: "…Today
I've spent all morning and the all the time after breakfast… on a new work!
With apprehension and anxiety, but without timidity, I set about an opera!" .
On 6/18 December he wrote to Modest Tchaikovsky: "The
opera is begun!!! And rather successfully too. What a rich subject!" . On 9/21 December
the scene he had begun composing was finished.
Tchaikovsky told Nadezhda von
Meck about his work on 10/22 December: "… Despite the fact that I finished
the initial scene with great success, I still feel uneasy. This is always the
way with me, when contemplating a large and captivating work. It is very hard
to describe this condition. I want to keep writing and writing.. Thoughts flood
my head, leaving no room to each other, driving me to despair in the face of
my human infirmity… I wish I could just finish all of it right now with a single
stroke of my pen!" .
On 26 December 1878/7 January 1879: "The stock of materials I need for
Jeanne d'Arc is ready. I'm glad to have obtained Michelet's book;
it gives me much useful information. As for Mermet's opera, I found its scenario
rather poor, but there are two or three effective scenes I might make use of.
In the end I came to the conclusion that although Schiller's tragedy does not
coincide with historical truth, it surpasses all others artistic depictions
of Joan in its depth of psychological realism" .
On 31 December 1878/12 January 1879: "Today I have already started and begun
to write the chorus for the first act. The composing of this opera is going
to be complicated by the fact that I do not have a finished libretto and did
not even draw up a plan of the scenario. So far I have compiled a detailed program
of the first act and am slowly writing the text, borrowing, of course, mostly
from Zhukovsky, but using other sources too, especially Barbier, whose
tragedy on "Joan's" story has many advantages. But either way, I have to write
the words by myself, which does not come easily to me" .
On 1/13 January 1879: "The work is going well. A routine has evolved as follows...
Compose the opera before dinner. After dinner take a long walk. After returning,
I read and work on the libretto. I've surrounded myself with plenty of
sources and am writing the libretto, the plan for which is already developed;
in the evening I prepare for myself a specific scene, or the text of a chorus
or aria, for the next morning This way I will be progressing with both
the music and writing in parallel" .
On 2/14 January 1879: "The libretto is going to be very good: it's not entirely
based on Schiller. I borrowed a lot from Mermet and Barbier, and
I came up with some things of my own. There are going to be very nice scenes.
I will be writing carefully, but without haste" .
On 3/15 January 1879: "…I worked very successfully on a scene from the first
act of the opera, when the chorus of peasants appears, running from the pursuing
On 4/16 January 1879: "…I sat down to work. For some reason I made slow progress
to start with, which then conversely grew very heated (Joan's arioso) and didn't
notice how the time flew by…" 
On 5/17 January 1879: "…I finished the big ensemble from the first act before
the closing scene (Joan's solo, the chorus of angels)" .
On 7/19 January 1879: "I'm up to my neck in the opera. It has progressed
so much that in a matter of three days I'm going to have finished the large
first act. The work is going very easily…" .
On 9/21 January 1879: "Finished the first act… Was sweating over the
text of the duet for Dunois with the King and had a lot of difficulty
with rhymes" .
On 10/22 January 1879: "I'm writing the duet of Dunois with the
King today… I dawdled over the second part of the text of King and Dubois'
duet for three hours, but emerged victorious…" .
In a letter to Nadezhda von
Meck of 10/22 January 1879 Tchaikovsky wrote: "…The first act is completely
ready". Further in the letter he describes the scenario of the opera:
Act I. Peasant girls decorate the magical oak of Domrémy with wreaths
and sing a chorus. Joan, her father and her prétendu  enter. Her
father says it is no time to sing and rejoice, when France is dying. "In such
burdensome times," he says, "a woman should have a steadfast protector", and
he proposes Joan to marry her prétendu, who loves her very much. Joan
keeps silent. He presses on. The fiancé asks him not to compel her. Trio.
Finally Joan says that God has chosen another destiny for her. The old man
is angry suspecting (as in Schiller) that she might have entered into
alliance with devilry. He casts reproaches and threats upon her. The glow
of a fire is seen in the sky and sounds of alarm are heard. Peasants fleeing
English soldiers appear with their wives and children, seeking refuge. One
of them summarizes what has happened and the position in which France finds
itself. Everyone believes they are destined to die. Joan makes a speech then,
prophesying in ecstasy that Orleans is going to be free and France will be
saved. Everyone is astonished and the chorus says that "there are no more
miracles in our times". "There are miracles," she replies, "and one has
just happened." Salisbury (the principal and most fearsome commander
of the enemy) has been killed. No one dares to believe this. A warrior
who struggled through the enemy's camp appears and confirms the news. An ensemble
and a prayer. Everyone leaves. Joan is left alone. She decides that it is
time to fulfil her calling. But she is suddenly filled with fear and anguish
of parting with her homeland. The chorus of angels reaffirms her. She asks
for this cup to pass from her. The angels inspire her with resolution
and courage. She goes into her religious raptures again and makes the final
Act II. In the castle of Chinon at the King's court. The weak but
good-natured King sits with his Agnès and is engaged in listening to minstrels
singing. When they are finished he expresses his delight and orders for the
singers to be fed and "be given a golden chain each". Dunois tells
him there are not only no chains but no gold at all in the treasury. The King
is upset. Agnès leaves to collect her jewellery and give it to the cause.
Dunois tries to instil into the King his duty to lead the army and fight.
The King is ready even to fight but he is in love with Agnès and it is hard
for him to part with her. Dunois reminds him of his duty in a harsh tone.
Duet. The King is filled with enthusiasm and decides "to turn the court
into a military camp". At this point one of the knights (Lebar le duc)
appears and says that the battle is lost, and he comes to die at the feet
of his King and show him that it is no time for songs, and they all must die
for their motherland. But the King, losing hope in any possible success, wants
to flee beyond the [River] Loire. Dunois reproaches him and leaves. The King
is alone and in sombre reverie. Agnès enters. She tries to hearten him. Mutual
declaration of love. Suddenly Dunois, the Archbishop and knights come running
and tell him that a miracle has happened: a wondrous maid appeared and the
battle was won. After that the enthusiastic cheers of folk are heard and Joan
enters. In order to test her, the King seats Dunois instead of himself, but
she is not fooled and addresses the real King. She then tells a story of her
visions and how she was told that she is going to save France, but provided
that earthly love would never touch her soul. Everyone believes in her.
An ensemble is sung and then there's a loud finale.
Act III. Scene 1. I still have not completely thought out this scene.
Here she is to meet (according to Schiller) with Lionel or Montgomery (it
does not really matter) and fall in love with him, as a result of which she
will be unable to complete her destiny.
Scene 2. The coronation in Rheims. March. The King publicly recognizes
Joan's service and expresses belief in the power that is given to her from
above. Her father appears then and says that she deceived everyone and that
her powers come from hell, not from heaven, that she's a witch etc. "If I
am mistaken, let her publicly declare that she has an undoubtedly pure heart,"
he says. Everyone demands her to do so but she keeps silent, believing herself
guilty. Three times the Archbishop asks her and three times lightning strikes
when she does not answer. Everyone is dumbfounded and leaves. Joan is left
alone. Lionel (or Montgomery), who changed alliances and pledged vows to the
King out of his love, approaches her  and expresses his desire to be
with her always. She flees him.
Act IV. Scene 1, Also not wholly thought out yet. It takes place
in the woods. Lionel pursues Joan, who is fleeing him. He falls in love with
her. When she curses him and dismisses him like her worst enemy, he turns
her over to the English as an act of revenge.
Scene 2. In Rouen. Joan
is lead to the fire. Lionel dies at the foot of the scaffold, struck by lightning.
Joan is at the pyre. People slowly begin to realize that she is wrongly accused
and start to protest. The execution is quickened. She mounts the scaffold.
She is crestfallen, but the chorus of angels support her. The first tongues
of flame appear at the bottom. Everyone screams in horror, the curtain falls.
This whole scene is set up nicely by Barbier, and I am going to borrow
it from him" .
On 11/23 January, Tchaikovsky wrote: "I have finished the duet, of which
I'm very proud, but the second half gave me some trouble. You know that I've
already finished the first act. Now I have the smaller first half of the second
act left to write (the second half I did in Florence)…" .
On 15/27 January): "…I have completed two acts, and the remaining two are
planned and thought out… Tomorrow I want to prepare some material for myself,
meaning that I'm going to write the text of the third act's first scene (of
fundamental importance)…" .
"If this opera won't be a masterpiece in general, it will be my
masterpiece! Its simplicity of style is absolute. The forms are uncluttered.
In a word, this is going to be the most dramatic contrast to Vakula," Tchaikovsky wrote to Modest Tchaikovsky on
17/29 January 1879 .
On 19/31 January: "…I began the third act…" 
On 20 January/1 February the composer described the whole scenario of the
opera in a letter to
Modest Tchaikovsky: "If you don't like the scenario, then please hide the
fact from me, because it is too late to change anything" .
On 23 January/4 February: "I have finished the first scene of the third act
and will proceed to the first scene of the fourth one tomorrow… I have come
to the conclusion that opera must be the sort of music that is the most accessible
of all. Operatic style should relate to symphonic and chamber music, like decorative
paintings to academic ones. Of course it does not follow from this that operatic
music should be the most banal or most vulgar. No! It is not about the quality
of thoughts but the style, the means of expression" .
On 29 January/10 February: "I'm very pleased with myself. I have the first
and the second acts fully ready, as well as the first scenes of the third and
the fourth acts, and the introduction is almost ready" .
On 31 January/12 February: "Today I wrote the text for the second scene of
the third act, and also began working on the music for it" .
On 3/15 February: "…I have written the grand coronation march which starts
the second scene of the third act" .
On 6/18 February Tchaikovsky went to
Paris where he continued his work.
On 10/22 February, the composer worked on the septet from Act III, which,
in his words, presented "big technical obstacles. The first part of the septet
is already done. If I am not mistaken, it is good" . All through the following days
he worked very intensively. According to the draft manuscript, the fourth act
was finished on 17 February/1 March.
On 10/22 February he wrote: "All this time I have been pleasantly occupied
with work, and successfully finished a big ensemble from the second scene of
the second act [sic]"  .
On 19 February/3 March: "…If nothing interferes then the opera will be finished
in a week. I have written it remarkably quickly. The whole secret is to work
every day and carefully. In this matter I impose an iron will on myself, and
when there is no particular desire to work I always force myself to overcome
my disinclination and become carried away" .
On 21 February/5 March the composition of the opera was finished .
In his letter to Nadezhda von
Meck of 24 February/8 March the composer wrote: "First let me inform you
that the opera is completed. It happened three days ago and I myself
did not expect that. You see, the last two days of my work I was in an extraordinarily
favourable mood and the work progressed amazingly fast. The day before yesterday,
yesterday and today I was engaged in reviewing and refining some details both
in the opera and the suite. At this
minute I have everything ready down to the smallest detail, and only
have to sit down, arm myself with a pen and start writing the full score"  .
On 26 April/8 May 1879 Tchaikovsky reported from Kamenka: "…I began the instrumentation
of the opera today. It is a very large, but very pleasant task, not in the least
onerous or demanding effort" . Then work was interrupted. On 3/15 May Tchaikovsky
left for Brailov and was distressed
that he "did a foolish thing in not taking the score along" . Tchaikovsky's
work on the full score resumed on 15/27 May when he returned to Kamenka . The work progressed fervently.
By 29 May/10 June the first act was finished, and on 30 May/1 June he began
Act II . By
16/28 June the score for the second act was completed . Due to Tchaikovsky's visit to
his ill friend Nikolay Kondratyev
at Nizy, work was interrupted again.
Tchaikovsky started the instrumentation of Act III again on 8/20 July, back
in Kamenka . Over the course of a week he orchestrated
"the whole of the very complicated first scene of the third act" , and on 15/27
July he proceeded to Act II. By late July/early August, Tchaikovsky was still
working in Kamenka on the third
act, finishing it there in August, hoping in Simaki "to do the whole fourth and
last act" .
Tchaikovsky actually orchestrated the fourth act in Simaki between 9/21 August and 21
August/2 September .
At the end of the first scene of Act IV there is the author's note: "(Simaki, 15 Aug. 1879)" [O.S.]. At
the end of the opera on the manuscript full score is the author's date: "(Started
in Florence on 23 November 1879. Finished in Simaki on 23
August 1879)" [O.S.].
Afterwards until late August/early September Tchaikovsky was busy with various
refinements and markings, and he also corrected the vocal score of the first
act at the request of Yury Messer, but a large number of corrections were needed.
Tchaikovsky entrusted Iosif Kotek
with the vocal score of the third act, but the introduction and Act IV were
done by the composer himself .
On 4/16 September 1879, Tchaikovsky wrote to Pyotr Jurgenson  from Saint Petersburg that he
was sending him the full score and arrangements of Acts III and IV, and Yury
Messer's arrangement with his own corrections .
In September and October, while simultaneously proofreading other works,
Tchaikovsky corrected the vocal score of the opera, made by Yury Messer. In
early/mid November the composer travelled abroad, where he remained until early/mid
March 1880, working on the composition of new works (the Piano Concerto No. 2 and Italian Capriccio). Only
in May, while staying at Kamenka,
did he resume proofreading of the vocal scores, hurrying to have the score ready
for Eduard Nápravník by
1/13 August. On 18/30 July the proofs were sent to Pyotr Jurgenson .
The vocal score was published in August 1880 (passed by the censor on 16/28
August 1880), but its distribution for sale was delayed at the insistence of
Tchaikovsky himself .
On 31 August/12 September the composer wrote to Nadezhda von Meck: "The
Maid of Orleans is completely ready for printing, but I don't want it to
come out before the first performance" .
In the process of preparing the opera for the stage it was slightly amended,
as Tchaikovsky explained to
Eduard Nápravník in a letter of 11/23 December 1880:
Today I have sent you the full score (original) and a proof copy of the
vocal score containing my corrections. Might I trouble you to copy two significant
changes I made in my score to the duplicate they have at the Directorate Office.
I assume that you will probably find it convenient to have my manuscript to
hand, and therefore I ask you to keep it as long as it pleases you. I have
made the following changes:
1) in the duet of the King and Dunois, in accordance with your suggestion,
I deleted the allegro and instead slightly extended the previous phrase:
2) In Act III I discarded the finale and the music around the time of the
third thunderclap, and remodelled it:
Here are important changes. In the case of the E-major episode in the duet
from the last act, after a long and tormented hesitation I preferred (considering
Kamenskaya's voice) to disfigure the melody rather than to change its key.
My sensibilities are vehemently opposed to the transposition of this passage.
After all, Kamenskaya isn't the only singer, is she? We cannot, in my
opinion, impose on Makarova to sing lower than it is written. If she is to
sing the part, let her at least sing this passage as it is.
Generally speaking I have made every possible change in Joan's part for
Kamenskaya, but I must tell you frankly that this was terribly difficult for
me. It may very well be that I spent insufficient time reducing the number
of high notes in her part. If so, then I ask you, dear friend, to make alterations
yourself where you see fit. It will be easier for you than for me. For in
the phrase we've talked about:
I couldn't think of anything else to replace it and therefore I confined
myself to correcting the mistake you've pointed out in your list and rearranged
the notes so that they would not be so high. Here, as in the duet from the
fourth act, I could not come up with anything new. I am too accustomed to
familiar patterns of modulations and harmonies to be able to successfully
replace unsuitable passages with something new. It is better to let the contour
of the melody be disfigured, than the essence of the musical idea itself which
conforms to the modulation and harmony that I'm used to.
In ensemble of the third act I moved the B-major melody from Joan's part
to Agnès's. All in all, I've done everything I can .
In January 1881 a two-handed arrangement for piano by Eduard Langer appeared for
sale, and in April there was the first publication of the vocal score with voice
parts . In 1884
the vocal score was published in a new version. Tchaikovsky wrote on 25 May/6
June 1881 to Pyotr Jurgenson
about the corrections that were supposed to appear in the second edition, sending
the copy with his corrections at the same time:
1st cut and correction —. Act II, No. 12, between pages 166 and
2nd cut and correction. Act III, No. 20. Finale, pages 370–407. These are
two significant changes that I wish to keep. Apart from these, bearing in
mind the circumstances of the Saint Petersburg's production,
there were some cuts and re-ordering of parts made which were of only local
And so everything else is left as before. But if you are to make a second
edition you need to correct some misprints at the same time and, according
to the requests of the censor, change the Archbishop to a Cardinal… It's
necessary on pages] 449, 450, 451, 452 where I've put the two footnotes and
signs That way we'll please the theatrical censor, and avoid the need to abridge
the music I value there .
In 1880, when the opera was presented to the Directorate of the Imperial
Theatres for performance, the censor would only permit its staging on condition
that several alterations were made. Tchaikovsky wrote about this it in a letter
to Pyotr Jurgenson from 18/30
September 1880: "I'm sending you a document from the Censorship department that
director Kondratyev sent
me along with the libretto they've censored. You'll see what strange corrections
they've requested but I was obliged to comply. I've made slight alterations
to the words, and had to make a cut in the final scene.
I've heard you were going to visit Saint Petersburg. Could
you be so kind as to petition the chief printing office to allow me to change
the Archbishop not to a Pilgrim but to a Cardinal; the Pilgrim makes no sense, and if there's a Cardinal in the opera La Juive, then they must allow me to have one too" . In a letter
of 14/26 October 1880, Pyotr Jurgenson
sent Tchaikovsky the censor's permit, and in the second edition of the opera
the Archbishop was replaced by the Cardinal . The opera's opening night took
place in Saint Petersburg
at Eduard Nápravník's benefit
performance under his baton on 13/25 February 1881; Nápravník was also the opera's
On 16/28 July 1882 the opera was staged in Prague (the first performance of one
of Tchaikovsky's operas abroad).
In January 1882 the opera was withdrawn from the repertory of the Saint Petersburg theatres.
In September of the same year the directorate approached Tchaikovsky with a
request to transpose Joan's part for mezzo-soprano. Tchaikovsky had to return
to work on the opera yet again . The alterations were made by 7/19 October 1882.
"I've spent ten days confined to my desk over this exhausting task," the composer
wrote on 8/20 October to Nadezhda
von Meck .
All the changes made were described by Tchaikovsky in a letter to Eduard Nápravník of 7/19
October 1882 :
the key of the chorus of angels singing with Joan was changed, as well as the
orchestration of the first act's finale, Joan's narrative in the second act
was abridged, some key changes were made in the first and the second duets of
Joan with Lionel due to the transpositions of vocal parts (mainly Joan's), and
the music in the scene of Joan's capture was shortened. In the same letter Tchaikovsky
asked that the duet of Thibaut and Raimond in the third act should be restored. Eduard Nápravník accepted
all the changes except for the restoration of Thibaut and Raimond's duet .
In this form the opera lasted one more season before being taken off the
stages of the Imperial Theatres . The full score of the opera was published by Pyotr Jurgenson in 1899 with
a supplement containing all the changes made by Tchaikovsky .
Tchaikovsky loved The Maid of Orleans and until the end of his life
he hoped for its revival on the stages of the Imperial Theatres. His temporary
coolness towards it was probably caused by the endless corrections the theatre
That is what Tchaikovsky himself wrote about the short-lived and unfortunate
stage presence of the opera in a letter to Ivan Vsevolozhsky of
25 November/7 December 1887: "This opera was staged before your time, and was
poverty-stricken. This apart, in default of a soprano I had to entrust the main
role to Kamenskaya and disfigure many passages in the opera with cuts and transpositions.
Kamenskaya strained her voice with an unsuitable part, and the opera was taken
off for a year. When you joined the directorate, the opera was revived and you
asked for the setting to be improved. As a consequence I had to make new cuttings
and new disfigurements to the original score, so that it was presented not at
all in the form in which it was written and intended. In the meantime, looking
through The Maid of Orleans, I found it had the necessary ingredients
for success, if the first edition were to be restored and a new, preferably
beautiful setting were made" . The composer's wish was not fulfilled . The opera
was not resumed in its original version during his lifetime.
According to his contemporaries, in the 1890s Tchaikovsky was going to revise
the third and the fourth acts of the opera. In his recollections of Tchaikovsky Vladimir Pogozhev mentions
their discussion about alterations to The Maid of Orleans . Ultimately
the composer had no time to carry out this intention. Modest Tchaikovsky recalled:
"Just before his demise, on the day his deadly illness began, Pyotr Ilyich talked
much to me of his wish to change the last scene, to make it correspond to Schiller;
for this purpose he bought Zhukovsky's complete works, but did not even
have the opportunity to re-read the tragedy" .
Музыкальное наследие Чайковского (1958), pp. 48–59
English text copyright © 2009 Anastasia Seliverstova
- Jules Barbier's drama Jeanna d'Arc, in 5 acts,
7 scenes with music by Charles
Gounod was first performed in Paris
on 8 November 1873
[N.S.]. According to Félix Clément (1822–1885), this drama represented
events with historical accuracy Among the musical numbers, Clément highly
rated the chorus of refugees, the soldiers' chorus, and the funeral march
— see Félix Clément & Pierre Larousse. Dictionnaire des operas (Dictionnaire
lyrique) (1897 edition, revised by Arthur Pougin), p. 604. Auguste Mermet's
opera Jeanna d'Arc, in 4 acts, 6 scenes, was first performed in Paris on 5 April 1876 [N.S.] [back]
- See letter 900 to Modest Tchaikovsky,
21 August/2 September 1878 [back]
- The original gives an incorrect new-style date of "2 December" [back]
- Letter 970 to Nadezhda von Meck, 21 November/3
December 1878; see also letter 966 to Modest Tchaikovsky,
13/25 November 1878 [back]
- See letter 968 to Pyotr Jurgenson, 15/27 November
1878; letter 975 to Nadezhda
von Meck, 23 November/5 December 1878; letter 1016 to Anatoly Tchaikovsky,
11/23 December 1878; and letter 1008 to Modest Tchaikovsky,
6/18 December 1878 [back]
- Letter 1007 to Nadezhda von Meck, 6/18 December
- See letter 1007 to Nadezhda von Meck, 6/18 December
- Letter 1013 to Modest Tchaikovsky,10/22
December 1878 [back]
- See letter 1007 to Nadezhda von Meck, 6/18 December
- Letter 1013 to Modest Tchaikovsky,10/22
December 1878 [back]
- Letter 1005 to Nadezhda von Meck, 5/17 December
1878. For more about the work on this scene see letter 1008 to Modest Tchaikovsky,
6/18 December [1878; letter 1010 to Nadezhda von Meck, 8/20 December
1878; and letter 1011 to Anatoly Tchaikovsky,
8/20 December 1878 [back]
- Letter 1007 to Modest Tchaikovsky,
6/18 December 1878 [back]
- Letter 1012 to Nadezhda von Meck, 10/22
December 1878; see also letter 1013 to Modest Tchaikovsky,
10/22 December 1878 [back]
- Letter 1038 to Nadezhda von Meck, 26 December
1878/7 January 1879; see also letter 1035 to Modest Tchaikovsky,
22 December 1878/3 January 1879 [back]
- Letter 1049 to Nadezhda von Meck, 31 December
1878/12 January 1879 [back]
- Letter 1050 to Anatoly Tchaikovsky,
1/13 January 1879 [back]
- Letter 1051 to Modest Tchaikovsky,
2/14 January 1879; see also letter 1961 to Pyotr Jurgenson, 7/19 January
- Letter 1057 to Anatoly Tchaikovsky,
4/16 January 1879 [back]
- Letter 1057 to Anatoly Tchaikovsky,
4/16 January 1879 [back]
- Letter 1059 to Modest Tchaikovsky,
6/18 January 1879 [back]
- Letter 1061 to Pyotr Jurgenson, 7/19 January
1879; see also letter 1062 to Anatoly Tchaikovsky,
7/19–8/20 January 1879 [back]
- Letter 1064 to Anatoly Tchaikovsky,
9/21 January 1879 [back]
- Letter 1066 to Modest Tchaikovsky,
10/22–11/23 January 1879 [back]
- i.e. Fiancé [back]
- "This isn't too implausible because Schiller, in
accordance with history, has the Duke of Burgundy go over from the English
to be on the King's side" (footnote by Tchaikovsky) [back]
- Letter 1065 to Nadezhda von Meck, 10/22
January 1879. On 20 January/1 February 1879 the composer sent Modest Tchaikovsky the
scenario of the opera in its final version. The amendments mainly concerned
the last two scenes. In the second edition, Lionel does not betray Joan in
the first scene of Act IV, but tries to protect her with his blade and dies
at the hands of Englishmen [back]
- Letter 1066 to Modest Tchaikovsky,
10/22–11/23 January 1879 [back]
- Letter 1070 to Nadezhda von Meck, 15/27
January 1879 [back]
- Letter 1071 to Modest Tchaikovsky,
17/29 January 1879 (original wrongly dated 16/28 January); see also letter
1069 to Pyotr Jurgenson,
14/26 January 1879 [back]
- Letter 1074 to Anatoly Tchaikovsky,
19/31 January 1879 [back]
- Letter 1077 to Modest Tchaikovsky,
20 January/1 February 1879 [back]
- Letter 1080 to Nadezhda von Meck, 23 January/4
February 1879 [back]
- Letter 1088 to Anatoly Tchaikovsky,
29 January/10 February 1879; see also letter 1089 to Nadezhda von Meck, 30 January/11
February 1879 [back]
- Letter 1090 to Modest Tchaikovsky,
31 January/12 February 1879 [back]
- Letter 1092 to Nadezhda von Meck, 3/15 February
1879 (original wrongly dated "2/15 February") [back]
- Letter 1103 to Nadezhda von Meck, 10/22
February 1879 [back]
- Letter 1104 to Modest Tchaikovsky,
10/22–11/23 January 1879 — Tchaikovsky mistakenly wrote "second act" instead
of "third act"; see also letter 1103 to Nadezhda von Meck, 10/22
February 1879 [back]
- Letter 1115 to Nadezhda von Meck, 19 February/3
March–20 February/4 March 1879 [back]
- See letter 1117 to Lev Davydov and letter 1118
to Modest Tchaikovsky,
both 22 February/6 March 1879 [back]
- Letter 1119 to Nadezhda von Meck, 24 February/8
March 1879 [back]
- Letter 1164 to Nadezhda von Meck, 26 April/8
May 1879 [back]
- Letter 1176 to Modest Tchaikovsky,
9/21 May 1879 [back]
- See letter 1178 to Anatoly Tchaikovsky,
15/27 May 1879, and also letter 1183 to Nadezhda von Meck, 16/28
May 1879 [back]
- See letter 1192 to Anatoly Tchaikovsky,
28 May/9 June 1879, and letter 1193 to Nadezhda von Meck, 29 May/10
June–30 May/11 June 1879 [back]
- See letter 1207 to Modest Tchaikovsky,
15/27 June 1879 [back]
- See letters 1228 and 1231 to Modest Tchaikovsky,
9/21 July and 15/27 July 1879 [back]
- See letter 1231 to Modest Tchaikovsky,
15/27 July 1879 [back]
- See letter 1239 to Nadezhda von Meck, 30 July/11
August–31 July/12 August 1879 [back]
- See letter 1259 to Modest Tchaikovsky,
21 August/2 September 1879, and letter 1244 to Nadezhda von Meck, 8/20–9/21
August 1878 [back]
- See letters 1217, 1257 and 1273 to Nadezhda von Meck, 27 June/9
July, 16/28–17/29 August, and 27 August/8 September–28 August/9 September
1879; also letters 1224 and 1272 to Pyotr Jurgenson, 4/16 July
and 27 August/8 September 1879 [back]
- Letter 1285 to Pyotr Jurgenson, 4/16 September
- Apparently on 31 August/12 September; see letters
1276 and 1277 to Nadezhda von
Meck, 29 August/10 September–31 August/12 September and 30 August/11 September
- See letters 1514 and 1540 to Pyotr Jurgenson, 17/29 June
and 18/30 July 1880 [back]
- See letters 1514 and 1572 to Pyotr Jurgenson, 17/29 June
and 29 August/10 September 1880 [back]
- Letter 1571 to Nadezhda von Meck, 26 August/7
September–31 August/10 September 1880 [back]
- Letter 1643 to Eduard Nápravník, 11/23
December 1880 [back]
- Passed by the censor on 16/28 August 1880 [back]
- Letter 1767 to Pyotr Jurgenson, 25 May/6
June 1881 [back]
- Letter 1596 to Pyotr Jurgenson, 18/30 September
- Klin House-Museum
Archive (ref. a4, № 6142) [back]
- See letter 2125 to Pyotr Jurgenson, 3/15 October
1882; letter 2130 to Sergey Taneyev,
8/20 October 1882; letters 2116 and 2119 to Nadezhda von Meck, 22 September/4
October–24 September/6 October and 28 September/10 October–8/20 October 1882;
and a letter from Mariya Kamenskaya to Tchaikovsky, 14/26 September 1882,
naming the wanted changes — Klin House-Museum
- Letter 2119 to Nadezhda von Meck, 22 September/4
October–24 September/6 October 1882 [back]
- Letter 2126 to Eduard Nápravník, 7/19
October 1882 [back]
- See letter from Eduard Nápravník to Tchaikovsky,
17/29 October 1882 — Klin House-Museum Archive [back]
- The opera was performed in its original form on the
stages of private theatres. Its premiere on the Soviet stage was in 1942 in Saratov (with Joan as a soprano),
then in 1945 in Leningrad
on the stage of the State Academic Opera and Ballet (Mariinsky) Theatre,
with Joan as a mezzo-soprano [back]
- Passed by the censor on 16/28 January 1899. The vocal
score was reprinted the same year, retaining the same plate numbers used for
the edition of 1880; the censor's date for this vocal score is also 16/28
January 1899 [back]
- Letter 3148 to Ivan Vsevolozhsky,
25 November/6 December 1887 [back]
Vladimir Pogozhev. «Воспоминания
о П. И. Чайковском» in:
Чайковский. Воспоминания и письма (1924), p. 83–84 [back]
- Modest Tchaikovsky, Жизнь Петра Ильича Чайковского,
том 3 (1902), p. 310–311 [back]