Mozart Minute Podcast: Mozart and Salieri – From Russia with Love, Part 2
The previous “Mozart Minute” compared Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera Mozart and Salieri with the much later stage play and film Amadeus. In the 1890s, Rimsky’s opera brought together some illustrious musicians and brought about at least one momentous musical occurrence. Benefactor Savva Mamontov’s Private Russian Opera Company gave the world premiere in 1898, featuring tenor Vasily Shkafer as Mozart and the young bass Fyodor Shalyapin as Salieri. Shalyapin’s mentor Sergei Rachmaninoff was at the piano. At the time of the premiere, Shalyapin, who would become legendary, was at the very beginning of his career. And according to scholar Richard Taruskin, the role of Salieri “brought Shalyapin his first fame.”
Below, Shalyapin sings “As a cherub” from Rimsky-Korsakov’s Mozart and Salieri.