Pytor Ilyich Tchai-copy-cat 1

Dance · Music

A fun musical post contributed to arts·meme by Erica Miner . . .

Sound familiar?

That’s Tamara Milashkina and Eugeny Raikov, singing Undina and Huldbrand’s duet from Undina by Tchaikovsky.

Tchaikovsky wrote this early opera in 1869, and though it was not one of his two ‘hit’ operas — Eugene Onegin in 1879 and The Queen of Spades in 1890 — he brilliantly reworked this sublime operatic duet into his ballet score for  ‘Swan Lake’, which premiered in 1875.

Maya Plisetskaya and Valery Kovtun, above, play Odette and Siegfried in a high-Soviet, technicolor version from 1973.

Like many composers, Pytor Ilyich recycled his own themes, and the music in this opera duet is more than startlingly close to that celebrated ballet’s Act II White Swan pas de deux. Interestingly, both stories are about ethereal creatures who end up under water. It just shows how the two mediums of opera and ballet can cross over intriguingly. And by the way, there are major ballet episodes in both of Tchaikovsky ‘hit’ operas.

Erica Miner, a former violinist with the Metropolitan Opera, American Ballet Theater and New York City Ballet, is an  author, screenwriter and lecturer. Her recent suspense thriller, Murder In The Pit, takes place at the MET.

One comment on “Pytor Ilyich Tchai-copy-cat

  1. classicalballetteacher Mar 19,2011 4:33 pm

    I used to be so scandalized by this kind of thing. I remember the first time I realized that Paquita was kind of a “Best Hits” – and realized that we in the dance world sometimes do the same thing. Thanks for posting such an interesting find. I’d never heard of Queen of Spades, let alone Undina. Fascinating!

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