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A lecture-recital celebrating the life and work of Russian composer Valentina Serova (1846–1924)

3:00pm-4:30pm on Saturday 23 March

Times shown are in GMT (UTC +0) up to the 26th March. For events on or after 27th March times are in BST (UTC +1).

Clare College, Chapel, Trinity Lane, CB2 1TL

On 15 April 1885, the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow staged the premiere of Valentina Semyonovna Serova’s first opera Uriel Acosta. This was the first time an opera by a woman was performed on Russia’s biggest operatic stage. Whilst her magnum opus was initially well received in Russia’s old capital and in Kyiv, it inspired unflattering comments from critics and Serova’s male counterparts when it was staged several years later in Saint Petersburg, justifying her lament that ‘The woman, the author of the opera, is a novelty for the world, therefore, involuntarily, distrust meets her at every step.’

Aside from the historical misogyny, historiography too is to blame for Serova’s obscurity. Despite her considerable output in musical culture – as a critic, composer, and pedagogue – historians and musicologists have consigned Serova to the footnotes of publications on her husband critic-composer Alexander Serov (1820–1871) and her son, the painter Valentin Serov (1865–1911). Indeed, Serova has suffered a plight all too familiar to creative female figures of the nineteenth century.

For this Cambridge Festival event, Nicholas Ong (a Doctoral student at the Music Faculty), will introduce audiences to the socio-political and personal events that impacted Russia’s musical world and Serova’s life, alongside the performance of extracts from Uriel Acosta, which has not been performed since 1892 and never beyond the territories of the Russian Empire!

Booking/Registration is: RECOMMENDED

Additional Information

Age: Young Adults 12 – 18, Adults
Format: Performance, Talk, Music
Timing: In person
Cost: Free
Event Capacity: 70
Theme: Discovery
Accessibility: Full access

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