Russian operas are those written by Russian composers in any language. There are examples of works by Russian musical theater in German, Italian, French and other languages. Russian opera, along with German, French and Italian, is of global importance.
The first operas in Italian performed by Italian troupes appeared in Russia in the 18th century. Later, some foreign composers who lived at the Russian imperial court began to write operas in Russian, and Russian authors in Italian.
The first attempts by Russian composers to compose operas with a libretto in Russian were made in the early 1770s. The works created were not examples of Russian national opera, but a weak imitation of German, French and Italian models. However, these operas paved the way for the great works of the 19th and 20th centuries.
At the first stage in the development of Russian opera, several notable works were created. Among them: "The Miser" by Vasily Pashkevich, "Orpheus and Eurydice" by Evstigney Fomin and "Anyuta" by an unknown composer.
The 19th century became the golden period of Russian opera. It began with the success of the musical piece "Lesta, the Dnepropetrovsk Mermaid". Its libretto and musical basis were borrowed in part from the German composer Ferdinand Kauer. Then a successful patriotic opera based on Russian history was created - "Ivan Susanin", the author of which was the Italian Katerino Cavos. Over the next years, several more successful examples of Russian musical theater appeared.
A new era in Russian opera was opened by two great works by Mikhail Glinka - A Life for the Tsar and Ruslan and Lyudmila. It is Mikhail Glinka who is considered the ancestor of the Russian national opera as such. After the appearance of Glinka's works, opera became one of the leading genres in Russian music. Glinka's follower was Alexander Dargomyzhsky - the author of "The Mermaid" and "The Stone Goose". Significant works were created by Anton Rubinstein, Anton Arensky, Sergei Taneyev and other composers.
Russian opera reached its highest point of development in the works of Modest Mussorgsky and Pyotr Tchaikovsky. Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov became the greatest masterpiece of Russian musical theater. Other operas by Mussorgsky remained unfinished. Among them: "Salambo", "Marriage", "Khovanshchina" and "Sorochinskaya Fair". Pyotr Tchaikovsky created ten operas, the most famous of which are Eugene Onegin and The Queen of Spades. They are included in the repertoire of all the leading musical theaters in the world. An important place in the Russian opera of the XX century is occupied by "Prince Igor" by Alexander Borodin"
At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov became the main composer of operas in Russia. He created fifteen works, the most notable of which are The Snow Maiden, The Tsar's Bride, Kashchei the Immortal and The Golden Cockerel.
At the beginning of the 20th century, several significant works were created by Igor Stravinsky. His work cannot be classified as opera in its purest form; rather, it is opera-ballets or musical dramas. The best examples of Stravinsky's creative heritage are The Nightingale, Oedipus the King, and The Flood.
In Soviet times, outstanding operas were created by the great composer Dmitry Shostakovich. His works have been repeatedly criticized by officials. Attacks on Shostakovich and another genius composer Prokofiev sometimes took the form of real bullying.
Russian musical theater continues its development in the 21st century. Premieres of two comic operas took place: "Tsar Demyan", a collective project, and "Children of Rosenthal" by Leonid Desyatnikov. These scandalous works have received great success with the audience.