Prague National Opera Cancels Production of Tchaikovsky’s ‘Cherevichki’

By David Salazar

The Prague National Opera has canceled its production of Tchaikovsky’s “Cherevichki.”

Per Opera Magazine, the decision to cancel the opera was not intended as an attempt to boycott Russian culture. However, the company did not want to stage an opera that promotes the “great Russian empire.”

‘In the context of today’s situation where Russia’s current political leaders are waging a war of aggression against Ukraine, demanding unacceptable imperialistic concessions from an independent [the original is nezávislý, or independent, and the piece’s author, Eva Soukeníková, doesn’t use the term svrchovaný, or sovereign] country. To achieve their absurd and illegal goals, Russia’s current political leaders have caused a humanitarian catastrophe and do not refrain from committing war crimes. The opera takes place in this context and becomes a sensitive issue that cannot be enjoyed while disregarding these events or by pointing out that it is ‘just a fairy tale,’ said Per Boye Hansen, the artistic director of the National Theatre, to staff members, per Die Fackel 2.0.

The opera, also known as “The Slippers,” is based on Polonsky’s “Christmas Eve” and is set in Ukraine and Saint Petersburg during the reign of Catherine the Great. It tells the story of the Devil ruining the courtship of a town smith, Vakula, and the daughter of a Cossack, Oksana. While she loves Vakula, Oksana mockingly promises to marry him if he retrieves the Tsarina’s slippers. The Devil then takes Vakula to the Tsarina’s palace and the royalty gracefully grants his request for her slippers. The opera ends in happiness.