the Stichvorlage, with the text in Russian only, Acts 1 and 2 written in black ink, with a working manuscript of Act 3 written in blue ink, containing many textual differences from the published vocal score, notated on hand-ruled paper, up to fourteen staves per page, with autograph title pages in Russian and/or French to each act, and with stage directions throughout, and rehearsal numbers added by the composer to Act 3, with some deletions and alterations, some additions in red ink, a working manuscript in places, with some revised passages in Acts 2 and 3 on inserted sheets and on pastedowns, both in the vocal line and accompaniment
115 pages, folio (c.31 x 24cms), including titles, paginated by the composer (Acts 1 and 2: pp.1-34 & pp.35-87; Act 3: pp.1-25), with editorial annotations and markings for the printer in pencil, and with stamps of the publisher and plate number "R.M.[added by hand:] V. 241" on the first page of each act, red quarter morocco, gilt title to spine (in Russian), Grand Hôtel, Leysin, 27 March 1914, some creases and small tears
This is the autograph manuscript of Stravinsky's complete opera, including his working score of Act Three, which predates the full score.
This manuscript was written in Stravinsky's characteristic early calligraphic style, and contains a key work in his early development.
The Nightingale is set in China and was Stravinsky's first opera. It was staged by Diaghilev at the Paris Opéra on 26 May 1914. Stravinsky composed Act 1 at the height of his Russian period in 1908-1909, but Acts 2 and 3 only in January to March 1914, after having written three famous ballets for Diaghilev. The stylistic differences found in Acts 2 and 3 reflect the developments in Stravinsky's musical language during these crucial intervening years: for example, the 'Chinese March' in Act 2 is characterized by the changing metres, advanced dissonances and driving rhythms found in the Rite of Spring. Stravinsky also wrote the libretto to the opera, with his friend Stepan Mitusov (it constitutes Stravinsky's most important literary composition).
The manuscript for Act 3 is quite different from that for the first two acts, representing Stravinsky's composition draft (containing pasted-over revisions and alterations), rather than a later arrangement of the full score. It is mostly written in blue and is separately paginated from the rest of the vocal score. Stravinsky has dated the end of the score, 27 March (14th in "old style"); so it therefore predates by three weeks Stravinsky's manuscript of the full score of Act 3 (which is also written in blue ink): it evidently represents ongoing revisions during the composition process, with earlier drafts presumably to be found under the pasted-down revisions. Stravinsky seems to have begun Act 3 in black ink, but changed to blue at page 13. He then extensively revised the entire act in blue ink, so that only pages 10-13 now survive of the first draft. Some of these revisions are on smaller paper (c.28.5 x 22.5cms), including the whole of page 9, pp.17/18 and pp.22 to the end. Stravinsky also wrote shorter revisions on separate pieces of paper and pasted them into the score on pages 9, 16, 17 and 18.
The manuscripts of Acts 1 and 2 are in black ink and continuously paginated. Act 1 incorporates the piano reduction that Stravinsky had already included at the bottom of each page of the 1909 autograph full score. There are also a few cuts marked in the manuscript in Act 2 (p.44), and one pasted-down revision (p.65). Stravinsky has made a few alterations by erasing the original, redrawing the stave over it and writing the correction on this new staving.
The musical text diverges from the final published version at a number of places, including in the first two acts: for example, on page 23 (Figure 37 in Act 1), where there are different chords in the accompaniment, and on page 75 (before Figure 89 in Act 2), where there is even a different melody for the Emperor. There is a four-bar passage containing a completely different oboe-part on pp.79-80 (Figure 93 in Act 2), depicting the Mechanical Nightingale. The metronome marking at the return of the Fisherman's song on page 85 (Figure 99 in Act 2), and the entry of the Nightingale on page 9 of Act 3 (Figure 110) differ from the current edition. There is a twelve-bar passage absent from this manuscript in Act 3, on the heavily-revised page 18 (Figure 124bis). There are also many minor changes in orthography throughout. Some expression marks present in the edition are missing in this manuscript (p.32).
The Nightingale is based on Hans Christian Andersen's Chinese fairy story: the first act takes place in a forest by the sea-shore, whilst the remaining two acts are set in the highly artificial atmosphere of the Imperial Chinese Palace, where the Nightingale is first brought to entertain the Emperor, and then finally returns to reprieve him from the clutches of Death. The Nightingale's song in Acts 1 and 2 is contrasted with that of a mechanical nightingale, brought as a gift by Japanese envoys in Act 2, whereupon he flies away and is banished by the Emperor. The opera opens with the song of the Fisherman, which evokes the Nightingale himself; later the Fisherman returns to conclude each act, playing a role (and sounding) somewhat like the Idiot in Boris Godunov).
As with many of Stravinsky's early scores, this manuscript has a delightfully expressive and calligraphic quality, which has an aesthetic value quite apart from the importance of the opera itself. The composer has drawn each stave on the pages individually, using a wheeled rastrum he devised himself. Therefore the pages have different numbers of staves, allowing for flexible systems and spacing, and varying stave-lengths. The same qualities are seen in the early composition draft of The Rite of Spring (the manuscript sold in our rooms on 11 November 1982, lot 55), which also uses similar paper and boards.
Please also see the illustration on page 2.
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