(Re)Constructing War and Peace: Prokofiev’s Late Style and the Politics of Opera
After living abroad for almost two decades, the composer Sergei Prokofiev returned to the Soviet Union in 1936 in the hopes of achieving the success he felt he deserved but never quite attained in the West. The return home, however, came at a price. Artists in the Soviet Union had to produce work that was politically and ideologically sound, but the rules for creating acceptable socialist realist art changed constantly. Prokofiev’s opera War and Peace serves as an illuminating case study in the development (and changing whims) of politically acceptable Soviet music in the late Stalinist period. In this lecture Dr Ermolaeva outlines the convoluted history of Prokofiev’s opera and trace the steps she took in reconstructing a critical edition of the first version of War and Peace from the composer’s manuscripts. The lecture closes with a discussion of the September 2018 premiere of her edition of War and Peace by the Welsh National Opera.