I was listening to my old college radio station a bit ago and on the play list was the March from the opera The Tsar Saltan. I've known that piece seemingly forever.
A long time back (it seems), I joined the Pushkin Society and Club in Moscow - well I was an honorary so to speak - and as part of the joining stuff, it was wise, I was told, to bone up on Pushkin. My Russian literature classes were a thing of the past and I got somewhat drowned out in the melancholy. I hiked over to the Embassy and told them my plight and was loaned this very book (above). Wiki has a pretty good accounting of the "plot" as follows:
|The Pushkin Society Dining Hall, Moscow|
"The story is of three sisters, of whom the youngest is chosen by Tsar Saltan (Saltán) to be his wife, while he makes the other two his royal cook and royal weaver. They are jealous, of course, and when the tsar goes off to war, and in his absence the tsaritsa gives birth to a son, Prince Gvidon (Gvidón), they arrange to have her and her child sealed up in a barrel and thrown into the sea.
The sea itself takes pity on them, and they are cast up on the shore of a remote island, Buyan. The son, having quickly grown while in the barrel, goes hunting. He ends up saving an enchanted swan from a kite.
The swan creates a city for Prince Gvidon to rule, but he is homesick, and the swan turns him into a mosquito. In this guise, he visits Tsar Saltan's court, where he stings his aunt in the eye and escapes. Back in his distant realm, the swan gives Gvidon a magical squirrel. But he continues to pine for home, so the swan transforms him into a fly. In this guise, Prince Gvidon visit's Saltan's court again and he stings his older aunt in the eye. The third time, the Prince is transformed into a bumblebee and stings the nose of his grandmother.
In the end, he expresses a desire for a bride instead of his old home, at which point the swan is revealed to be a beautiful princess, whom he marries. He is visited by the Tsar, who is overjoyed to find his wife and newly married son."
The opera makes some alterations. I admit to hardly knowing the music very well aside from the March so I did a little side by side and found that the mosquito was replaced by a bumblebee and that piece of music (The flight of the bumblebee) comes from an interlude in this opera. I never put 2 and 2 together.
Act 3Scene 1
By the shore of Buyan, the merchant ships have left, and Gvidon laments his being separated from his father (Gvidon’s Act III Aria). The Swan-Bird finds a way to help him: she changes him into a bumblebee so that he can fly over the sea as a stowaway on Saltan's ship to visit him incognito in Tmutarakan.
Interlude — Flight of the Bumblebee
So here is that bumblebee tune. You'll know it straight away.