Moscow: Bolshoi Theatre, 1943. First Edition, First Printing.
Single printed sheet folded to create  pages, measuring 6 1/2 x 4 1/8 inches (163 x 106 mm) when folded.
Rare playbill for the opera Ivan Susanin, performed at the Bolshoi Theatre, on September 26, 1943. This was a notable production because it was the Bolshoi's first performance in Moscow after returning to the city in World War II. The Bolshoi company -- along with the government and many other institutions -- had been evacuated to the city of Kuybyshev (now Samara) following the German invasion in 1941. The Bolshoi Theatre itself had been damaged by a bomb in 1941, so this performance marked the theatre's reopening.
The great bass Maxim Mikhailov sang the role of Susanin, while the soprano Valeria Barsova appeared as Antonida, and the tenor Nikandr S. Hanaev sang the role of Sobinin. Samuil Samosud directed. An Associated Press report appearing in the September 27, 1943, edition of The New York Times hailed the performance as the "most brilliant theatrical night of the war period."
"The jammed house was resplendent with generals and soldiers on leave from the front and some civilian leaders, but Premier Joseph Stalin and other leaders were not present," the AP report continued. "Tickets to the opening were restricted to the highest Soviet officials, the heads of diplomatic missions and foreign correspondents."
Ivan Susanin was a Russian national hero of the early 17th century. Until the Soviet era, the opera was known as "A Life for the Tsar." But the Soviet authorities, unsurprisingly, didn't want the Tsar portrayed as the savior of the country. So the Russian poet Sergei Gorodetsky modified the libretto, making Ivan Susanin the country's savior and reviving the original title that Glinka had chosen for the opera.This playbill is rare; 1,000 copies were printed and many probably did not survive. RARE.
CONDITION: Three horizontal folds, some soiling and writing in yellow to the recto and verso, general handling wear. About Good. Item #2048