Libretto by Vladimir Sorokin
Music Director: Alexander Vedernikov
Stage Director: Eimuntas Nekrosius
Set Designer: Marius Nekrosius
Costume Designer: Nadezhda Gultyaeva
Chorus Master: Valery Borisov
World premiere took place on March 23, 2005.
Sung in Russian.
Presented with one interval.
Leonid Desyatnikov "The Children of Rosenthal" (Opera in two acts) Characters and performers
Rosenthal's first colleague
Rosenthal's second colleague
Female street vendor
Sleeping car attendant
Leonid Desyatnikov "The Children of Rosenthal" (Opera in two acts)
The great scientist Alex Rosenthal was born in Berlin back in 1910. By the age of 22 he had already become a professor of biology. At 26 he made a great discovery: any living organism can be recreated from scratch through asexual reproduction. Rosenthal called his method duplication. He tested it on animals and after six months' work produced genetically identical duplicates of rats and horses which successfully survived infancy. By the end of the 1930s Rosenthal was already on his way to duplicating a human being and he himself was the donor for the first experiments. But the Nazis denounced Rosenthal's bold ideas as running counter to their racial 'science' and storm troops raided his laboratory. Being a Communist, Rosenthal had great sympathy for the Soviet cause and so he fled to the USSR. On March 7th 1940 the first human duplicate was born. The Communist party approved of Rosenthal's ideas and put him to work on cloning Stakhanovite shock workers. Stalin personally bestowed honours on the great biologist. But that was not enough for Rosenthal, who dreamed of something quite different. For he had set his sights on returning men of genius from the past…
Tableau 1. June 1975, Rosenthal's laboratory
Alex Rosenthal and his geneticists colleagues are preparing to duplicate Mozart. The genetic material left behind in his mortal remains is placed inside a piece of laboratory apparatus and the geneticists sing of their gleeful anticipation of the resurrection of the great composer. He is to become the fifth in "the immortal constellation" of composers already duplicated by Rosenthal: Verdi, Tchaikovsky, Wagner and Mussorgsky.
Tableau 2. June 1975, a birch wood near Rosenthal's house
After the successful start to the experiment to resurrect Mozart, Rosenthal returns to his 'sons' the composers. He is greeted by Wagner, who awakes from a nightmare which he recounts to Rosenthal, who calms him by reminding him of the great destiny of an immortal genius: "Music is a heavenly flame! Before it science is nothing!" Rosenthal tells his sons that Mozart will soon be born and the duplicates respond with delight.
March 1976. Rosenthal's house
Everyone is preparing for a celebration to greet the newly-born Mozart. The nanny recalls the arrival of each of the other duplicates. Tchaikovsky is disturbed by the prospect - Mozart was always his idol, yet now he is to become his younger brother. Rosenthal appears with the baby. The duplicates surround the cradle, remembering their own childhood and the toys given by Stalin which were waiting for them under the New Year's tree in the Kremlin. Rosenthal tells them how he began his work on resurrecting the great composers in secret from the government of the USSR; his recollections are interrupted by excerpts from Communist party proclamations about duplication.
The sequence of different Communist party leaders also indicates the passage of time. It is now 1992 instead of 1976. Rosenthal has died, Mozart is now 16 and the five duplicate composers are now painfully aware of being unwanted and lost souls in a hostile world.
Winter 1993. Moscow, Komsomol Square
In the hustle and bustle of a railway terminus passengers are hurrying to catch trains, street vendors are touting their wares, the homeless are lamenting their unhappy lot, card-sharps are cheating their victims out of money and prostitutes are soliciting punters. Out of this motley gathering the five duplicate composers appear. Following Rosenthal's death and the termination of the cloning programme by the state they have been reduced to busking to earn a living. The denizens of the terminus like the song which they perform, especially Tanya the prostitute. Mozart is touched by her attention. The composers head off to the station buffet, leaving Mozart and Tanya on their own.
Tableau 1: Mozart and Tanya declare their love for each other. As evening falls the prostitutes set off for work, but Tanya refuses to join them. Her boss, Kela the pimp, is less than happy about this. Verdi buys her out of prostitution with Rosenthal's gold watch and sings the praises of love. But while Mozart is inviting everyone to the wedding Kela is already plotting his revenge.
Tableau 2: The crowd outside the station joyfully celebrates the wedding and the duplicates congratulate the newlyweds. In only half an hour's time the train will depart that will take Tanya, Mozart and his brothers off to the Crimea, away to a happy, carefree existence in the sun. Mussorgsky orders a bottle of vodka so they can have "one for the road" before setting off, but the bottle has been spiked with poison by the evil Kela…Tanya, Mozart, Verdi, Mussorgsky and Tchaikovsky raise the glasses to their lips. The poison takes immediate effect and before dying they all in turn recall the most dramatic moments of their respective childhoods. The refugee and female street-vendor sing a lament over their corpses.
The Sklifosovsky hospital accident and emergency unit, several days later.
Mozart comes round in the ward. A voice from behind the scene announces to him that his brothers the composers and Tanya have all died and he alone has survived, thanks to a genetic immunity to the poison acquired in his previous life. The ghosts of the departed appear to Mozart - Wagner, Verdi, Mussorgsky and Tchaikovsky, each one singing his favourite melody, while Tanya sings of the happy life in the Crimea which they never lived to enjoy. "You are no more. You have gone for ever. And I am alone, in this world" sings Mozart.