Rosa Newmarch has characterized the music for the solo singers as mainly of "'mezzo-recitative' of a somewhat dry quality, but relieved by great variety of orchestral color in the accompaniments".
The world premiere was given in St. Petersburg Premiere on 13 January (O.S. 1 January), 1873 at the Mariinsky Theatre, conducted by Eduard Nápravník. Other notable performances included those in 1895 in St. Petersburg's Panayevsky Theatre given by the Society of Musical Gatherings; In 1896 in Moscow the Russian Private Opera, conducted by Bernardi, with scenary by Korovin and Vasnetsov included Fyodor Shalyapin as Ivan the Terrible.
|Role||Voice type||Premiere cast|
St. Petersburg 1873
St. Petersburg 1895
|Tsar Ivan Vasilevich the Terrible||bass||Osip Petrov||Mikhail Koryakin||Fyodor Shalyapin|
|Prince Yuriy Ivanovich Tokmakov, the tsar's deputy and posadnik in Pskov||bass||Ivan Melnikov||Mikhail Lunacharsky||Kastorsky|
|Boyar Nikita Matuta||tenor||Vasilyev II||Davïdov|
|Prince Afanasy Vyazemsky||bass||Sobolev|
|Bomely (Bomelius), royal physician||bass|
|Mikhail Andreyevich Tucha, son of a posadnik||tenor||Orlov||Vasilyev III||Vasiliy Damayev|
|Yushko Velebin, courier from Novgorod||bass||Vasiliy Sharonov|
|Princess Olga Yuryevna Tokmakova||soprano||Yuliya Platonova||Feodosiya Velinskaya||Lidiya Lipkovskaya|
|Boyarïshnya Stepanida Matuta, Olga's friend||soprano|
|Vlasyevna, wet-nurse||contralto||Darya Leonova||Dore|
|Perfilyevna, wet nurse||contralto|
|Chous, silent roles: ''Judges, Pskovian boyars, governor's sons, oprichniks, Muscovite Streltsī, maidens, people|
The people of Pskov are in fear of the wrath of the Tsar. Olga sings of how she does not truly know of her parents. A crowd gathers and sings welcome to the Tsar.
At Tokmakov's residence, Tsar Ivan patronizes Tokmakov and his ideas of the city behaving independently of the Tsar. The Tsar then asks to be attended by Princess Olga. She enters, and they both react oddly at each other's appearance. When Tokmakov and Ivan are later alone in conversation, the Tsar asks about Olga and learns about the identity of her mother. Ivan is shaken to learn that Vera Sheloga is Olga's mother, and his attitude toward the city changes.
In the forest, Olga and Tucha meet for a tryst. However, Matuta and his men appear, repulse Tucha and abduct Olga.
At a camp near the riverside, Ivan continues to think about Olga. He hears that Matuta has abducted her. Angry at this news, Ivan summons Olga, and addresses her as "Olga Ivanova", a hint as to her true father. Olga asks for protection from Matuta. Tsar Ivan says that she will be taken to Moscow, and he will choose her groom. He says that when Tucha is captured, he will live, but imprisoned. Olga continues to plead for mercy, and says that she has always worshipped him since she was young. Tucha and his forces attack the Tsar's camp. As they are repelled, Olga is fatally shot. At the end, over her body, Ivan reveals that he is, in fact, Olga's father.
Audio Recordings (Mainly studio recordings)
The Maid of Pskov: Overture. Legend. Neapolitan Song. The Tsar's Bride: Overture. Sinfonietta on Russian Themes. Capriccio espagnole
Jan 01, 2008; RIMSKY-KORSAKOV The Maid of Pskov: Overture. Legend. Neapolitan Song. The Tsar's Bride: Overture. Sinfonietta on Russian Themes....
Rimsky-Korsakov: The Maid of Pskov Suite; The Legend of the Invisible City Suite; Fairy Tale; Fantasia on Serbian Themes. Igor Golovchin, Moscow Symphony Orchestra. Naxos 8.553513.(Review)
Jun 01, 2001; Rimsky-Korsakov: The Maid of Pskov Suite; The Legend of the Invisible City Suite; Fairy Tale; Fantasia on Serbian Themes. Igor...