Procession of the Nobles from “Mlada”
Length: 4 minutes
Orchestration: piccolo, 3 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn, 3 clarinets, bass clarinet, 3 bassoons, contrabassoon, 6 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion (bass drum, cymbal, snare drum, tambourine, triangle), 3 harps, and strings
Rimsky-Korsakov's Mlada, first produced in 1892, almost defies the effort to describe it. In form it is half-opera and half-ballet, and its libretto is unbelievably complex, even by the standards of opera librettos. Set a thousand years ago in an imaginary kingdom called Retra on the shores of the Baltic, Mlada tries to fuse Wagnerian opera with ancient Russian legend, and the result is an absolutely fantastic story. Princess Mlada, a role that is danced rather than sung, has been murdered by her rival Voyslava, who sets out to secure the love of Yaromir, Mlada's lover. The story involves magic, evil spirits, and trips into the underworld, and at the climax an entire village is submerged by an overflowing lake and Yaromir and Mlada are seen ascending on a rainbow.
Mlada has not held the stage, and the only familiar music from it is the Procession of the Nobles, the orchestral introduction to Act II, which begins with a festival of tradespeople. The music bursts to life with a rousing brass flourish, soon followed by the processional music, a noble tune for strings in E-flat major. This is music of color and energy, and in the opera it is punctuated by shouts from the crowd at the festival. A central section just as vigorous as the opening leads to a return of the march tune and a rousing close.
- Eric Bromberger annotates programs for many organizations, including the Minnesota Orchestra, the Washington Performing Arts Society at the Kennedy Center, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Society, and San Diego's Mainly Mozart Festival.