Victory Over the Sun
The World's First Futurist Opera
Publication date:01 April 2015
Length of book:360 pages
PublisherUniversity of Exeter Press
The Futurist opera Victory over the Sun, first staged in 1913 in St Petersburg, was a key event of the Russian avant-garde, notorious for its libretto, its unconventional score and its pioneering abstract sets and costumes designed by Kazimir Malevich. The iconic importance of Victory over the Sun as a theatrical event is universally acknowledged.
This volume brings together the first fully annotated translation of the libretto of this ‘anti-opera’ and other important primary source materials, including the score, the set and costume designs and contemporary newspaper reviews. The second part of the volume provides a wide-ranging collection of interpretive essays which explore the artistic, literary and musical dimensions of the staging, its theatrical and historical context, its relationship to Italian Futurism, and its position within the Russian modernist movement.
You can read more about the Pushkin House event on 22 November 2012 on the Russian Art and Culture website by following this link http:// www.russianartandculture.com/victory-over-sun-book-launch-pushkin-house/ (will open in a new window).
And you can see and hear more in Alexander Kan's report on the BBC Russian site by following this link http://www.bbc.co.uk/russian/multimedia/2012/11/121127_futuristic_dinner.shtml (will open in a new window).
In 1913, the year in which the Romanovs celebrated their tercentenary, the premieres of two revolutionary theatrical events brought Russian artists to the forefront of the European avant-garde. With its nonsensical ‘trans-sense’ libretto by Aleksei Kruchenykh and Velimir Khlebnikov, experimental score by Mikhail Matiushin and pioneering abstract sets and costumes by Kazimir Malevich, the Futurist opera Victory over the Sun may be compared in terms of its radical assault on artistic convention to Igor Stravinsky’s ballet The Rite of Spring.
This interdisciplinary volume brings together a distinguished team of international scholars to discuss the artistic significance of this epoch-making ‘anti-opera’, which is now recognised as a key event of avant-garde cultural production, and a turning point in stage history.
The book offers new insight into the theatre practice and history of Russian Futurist performance, which, to date, has received little attention from theatre scholars despite its influence on the development of European drama in the twentieth century.
As well as an annotated translation of the libretto, the book includes reproductions of the score and contemporary newspaper reviews.
Illustrated throughout, and with a colour plate section containing twenty-seven colour images of costume designs, posters and other work by the abstract artist Kazimir Malevich.
‘This project brings the highest possible standard of scholarship to bear on avant-garde cultural production.’
Maria Gough, Professor of Modern Art, Harvard University
‘This collection opens fascinating and enriching views into a brief but powerful explosion.’
The Times Literary Supplement, 2 November 2012
‘Without doubt, it will be rewarding reading for anyone interested in Russian modernism.’
Slavic Review, Summer 2013, vol. 72, no.2