The opera, “May Night” composed by Nikolai Rimsky Korsakov was first performed at the Marlinsky Theatre in St Petersburg, Russia in 1880. The libretto comes from the story of the same name written by Nikolai Gogol and the setting is a village in the Ukraine.
The tale tells of Levko and Hanna’s love for each other and the unwanted attention she is getting from Levkos’s father, who is also the mayor. Containing a story within a story, Levkos tells Hanna that the old house, soon to be turned into a distillery was the home of a widower and his daughter, Pannochka. The widower remarried but the stepmother turned out to be a witch who forces Pannochka out of the house to drown herself and become a rusalka or drowned maiden.
Seldom performed in Britain the opera is being performed this week, (7 – 11 March 2016) by students of the Royal Academy of Music in London in an amazing space called Ambika P3. This is a vast art exhibition space, next to Baker Street Underground Station, that was a concrete construction and testing hall until its transformation. I had the pleasure of shooting photos for the designer of the set and costumes Bridget Kimak who merged the existing structure with the built set to make an atmospheric location for the action in the village and its distillery.