High notes: Opera dis­cussed

Pasatiempo - - IN OTHER WORDS -

The wealthy, no­ble Shereme­tev fam­ily owned ap­prox­i­mately 200,000 serfs in 18th-cen­tury Rus­sia, in­clud­ing Praskovia Ko­va­ly­ova. At age eight, she be­gan train­ing with the opera com­pany that her master, Count Peter Shereme­tev, was putting to­gether with his son, Nicholas. She be­came one of the most fa­mous opera di­vas of her time — known as the Pearl — but it was still con­sid­ered so­cially un­ac­cept­able for her to be ro­man­ti­cally in­volved with Nicholas, the rich­est aris­to­crat in the coun­try. Dou­glas Smith’s The Pearl: A True Tale of For­bid­den Love in Cather­ine the Great’s Rus­sia (Yale Univer­sity Press, 2008), ex­plores Kava­ly­ova’s life, ca­reer, and mar­riage while also pro­vid­ing a his­tory of Rus­sian mu­sic, bal­let, and the­ater, and the tra­di­tion of us­ing serfs as per­form­ers and set de­sign­ers. The Pearl is up for dis­cus­sion at 6 p.m. on Mon­day, May 8, at the Vi­vace book club, held at Col­lected Works Book­store (202 Gal­is­teo St., 505-988-4226) in con­junc­tion with the Santa Fe Opera Guild. Up­com­ing Vi­vace meet­ings, which are de­signed to open up the world of opera through the read­ing of lit­er­a­ture are July 10, when the talk is about Ann Patch­ett’s Bel Canto; Sept. 11 (The Cas­trato and His Wife by He­len Berry); and Nov. 13 (Sing for Your Life: A Story of Race, Mu­sic, and Fam­ily by Daniel Berger). There is a $5 sug­gested do­na­tion; call 505-629-1410 Ext. 120.

For those who crave even more opera knowl­edge, Col­lected Works also hosts the Santa Fe Opera Spot­light Se­ries, and the Fri­day, May 5, in­stall­ment, “Birds of a Feather: Rim­sky-Kor­sakov and Stravin­sky” fo­cuses on Rim­sky-Kor­sakov’s The Golden Cock­erel, open­ing in July at the Santa Fe Opera. Oliver Prezant lec­tures on this time­less op­er­atic satire of au­toc­racy and Rus­sian im­pe­ri­al­ism. The lec­ture be­gins at 6 p.m. and is free of charge. — Jen­nifer Levin

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