Gaetano Donizetti is known as the author of “Lucia di Lammermoor”, “L'elisir d'amore”, and “Don Pasquale”. Some music fans could easily remember two or three more dozens of his works. But few people know that among the first works written by the 22-year-old Italian composer was an opera about Peter I, based on a play by Alexandre Duval that was popular at the time. The opera “Il falegname di Livonia, o Pietro il grande, czar delle Russie” (“The Livonian Carpenter, or Peter the Great, Tsar of the Russians”) was presented in the Theater San Samuele in Venice during the carnival of 1819.
It was director Yuri Alexandrov who first introduced Donizetti's masterpiece in Russia calling the performance “Peter I, or The Incredible Adventures of the Russian Czar”. The preparation of the performance took a few years, but after this hard work he managed to put together fragments of the score of “Peter the Great” scattered throughout Italy. Thus, this creation of the great composer, that was long thought lost, was returned to the world.
This sensational performance marked a new life of The St. Petersburg Chamber Opera. After years of wandering, the company finally gained its home in the cozy mansion of Baron von Derviz in Galernaya Street.
The romantic and political story of the opera, where the Russian royal couple is involved, does not seek to be historically true, but it gives rise to the ironical and game-like action, full of unpredictable plot twists. Gracefully melodic music of Donizetti and the director’s inventive easily reconcile you with the fact that drama episodes have nothing to do with the real Russian history.