Marc Chagall: Aleko

Aleko: Nicola Ghiuselev
Zemfira: Blagovesta Karnobatlova
Old Gypsy: Dimiter Petkov
Young Gypsy: Pavel Kurshumov
Old Gypsy Woman: Toni Chrisova

Conductor: Ruslan Raichev

Plovdiv Philharmonic, BNR Chorus, 1973, sung in Russian

The Opera    Zemfira, a young Gypsy girl, is bored with her aging husband Aleko.
7:45    Her father, the Old Gypsy, recounts the story of his own betrayal by Zemfira's mother many years before ("The magic power of song"). Aleko, unable to understand the Old Gypsy's acceptance of the betrayal, asks why he didn't pursue the lovers and kill them both. The old man answers that love is free; it cannot be compelled or forced. Aleko replies that he would have avenged his honor by killing the enemy.
27:35   Zemfira and her new lover, a young Gypsy, arrange for a secret rendezvous. While Aleko sets up the tent for the night, Zemfira sings a savage lullaby to her sleeping infant ("Old husband, cut me to pieces"). Aleko enters the tent and tells Zemfira he doesn't like wild lullabies. Zemfira, mocking him, says she is singing for herself.
34:35   Aleko goes out into the field where the moon is waning and sings a cavatina ("The camp's asleep") in which he laments the past and his inability to accept the will of fate. Aleko and Zemfira retire to their tent. Aleko awakes and finds Zemfira gone.
43:00   He finds her in the Young Gypsy's arms ("Romance of the Young Gypsy"). Aleko stabs the Young Gypsy to death and then kills Zemfira as well.
51:00   The tribe rushes to the scene and discovers the murder. Aleko awaits execution. But the Old Gypsy, Zemfira's father, sentences Aleko instead to expulsion from the tribe ("Barbarians are we"). Because Aleko refused to accept the principle of freedom for all his fate is to be returned to the worldly society in which his values were formed.