From The YouTube Music Video Archives: Galina Gorchakova as Renata in The Fiery Angel

Since we’re speaking of musical comedies based on darkly obsessive works of Russian literature, my latest musical preoccupation is Prokofiev, who really isn’t appreciated in the way Shostakovich is, and what I like especially is his weird, weird opera, The Fiery Angel (based on the novel Огненный ангел, by Valery Bryusov, for all you Russian readers out there). Actually, the title is much longer than that, according to Wikipedia:

The Fiery Angel; or, a True Story in which is related of the Devil, not once but often appearing in the Image of a Spirit of Light to a Maiden and seducing her to Various and Many Sinful Deeds, of Ungodly Practices of Magic, Alchymy, Astrology, the Cabalistical Sciences and Necromancy, of the Trial of the Said Maiden under the Presidency of His Eminence the Archbishop of Trier, as well as of Encounters and Discourses with the Knight and thrice Doctor Agrippa of Nettesheim, and with Doctor Faustus, composed by an Eyewitness.

Here also is a helpful synopsis:

Set in sixteenth-century Germany, the story concerns a young woman named Renata who has fallen in love with a “fiery angel” whom she believes appeared to her during her childhood. She later identifies the “angel” with one Count Heinrich, who takes her as his mistress but then abandons her. She enlists the knight-errant Ruprecht in her efforts to track down her “angel”. Though she believes her motives are holy, the presence of Faust, Mephistopheles and assorted demons in the story suggests otherwise. Her obsessive quest leads her and the loyal, lovestruck Ruprecht deep into the realms of the occult. After many bizarre adventures, Ruprecht emerges unscathed, but Renata is condemned by the Inquisition to a fiery death at the stake.

And an especially insightful analysis:

The opera treats the dark arts in a largely sarcastic and humorous manner. The music is dark and imposing, and the singing, especially that of Renata, is chillingly histrionic.

Now go check out Gorchakova’s histrionics by clicking on the title of this post. And notice that they were able to book Blue Man Group for this production.


  1. Quin Finnegan says

    Wow! That’s incredible; hopefully we’ll be seeing some more opera from the YouTube archives.

  2. Quin Finnegan says

    I don’t see why not…

  3. Rufus McCain says

    Wow! That’s incredible; hopefully we’ll be seeing some more opera from the YouTube archives.

  4. Henri Young says

    I can’t watch You Tube at every location anymore. I’ll check it out at home knowing in advance that it will be incredible because:

    1.I like opera
    2.The story is intriguing
    3.The author of the post is superincredible himself and I am made more civilized by all his postings

  5. Rufus McCain says

    Quin, I agree with Henri, you have elevated us, and that’s not just the Jameson’s talking. Not to get mushy about it or anything. How about putting Nixon in China on your list? I’d like to see something about that.

    Speaking of Dostoevskyan things, I watched the first half hour of Miller’s Crossing last night and was struck by how very Dostoyevskyan the characters seemed. And how marvelous a film it is, which Henri and Lickona were chatting about awhile back.

Speak Your Mind