Smirnov, Grigory Stepanovitch

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(Walton: The Bear). Bar. A landowner who supplied oats for the late Popov's horse, for which he is owed 1,300 roubles. He forces his way past the servant into Mme Popova's drawing‐room, demanding to be paid. He cannot accept her promise that her bailiff will pay him next week—the debt must be paid today, as his creditors are chasing him and the bank is demanding interest. If he does not receive his money today he will become a bankrupt and will hang himself! He becomes more and more aggressive until she regally sweeps out of the room. Her servant, Luka, tries to persuade him to leave, but he stays his ground, demanding vodka to sustain him. Reproached by Luka for his behaviour, he realizes he does look untidy and has behaved badly towards a lady. By now he is captivated by the spirited Popova. When she returns, he suggests they settle their quarrel by a duel and she sends for her late husband's pistols. But she has never before handled a gun. By the time Smirnov has shown her how to hold it, Luka returns to find them in a passionate embrace. Arias: Grodzitov is not at home; Madame je vous prie; duet (with Popova): Yes, I do know how to behave. The first aria is a description of all his debtors, the second a parody on the Russian tendency to use French phrases as a sign of aristocratic breeding. Created (1967) by John Shaw.

Subjects: Opera.

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