First, I've added a little YouTube magic to my Borodin post, over here, just so you can see what I'm talking about when I sing the praises of Prince Igor. Our next Russian DVD adventure is Shostakovich's surprisingly obscure operetta, Cheryomushki, recently released on London/Decca DVD. I'd read somewhere (Gramophone? Opera News?) the complaint that Cheryomushki's satire of Soviet life was "toothless," and so I was pleasantly surprised by just how grim this peppy little musical actually is. Which makes sense. The implied promise of every Broadway/Hollywood musical comedy is that you will transcend your class and achieve your dreams just by being beautiful and clever and passionate. In an ostensibly classless society--the young lovers here include a bureaucrat's chauffeur and a pretty crane operatrix; nary a millionaire heiress in sight--maybe the most magical promise a musical comedy can offer is a medium-sized apartment, in a new building, with no waiting. Here's a characteristically charming glimpse of our heroes' modest ambitions:
How sad--but how cute! Although I might be a little biased by Sasha's resemblance to my own JoJo (pictured here, if you scroll down). Probably because I have so little experience with Soviet musicals (I understand Stalin was a big fan?), seeing this kind of filmic and musical glitter sprinkled over such a bleak and humble way of life makes Cheryomushki, for me, all the more touching, and a little refreshing.