St Petersburg, The Prokofiev Hall

Murych the Cat


opera by Sergei Banevich


Murych the Cat: Shota Chibirov
Murka Barsikovna: Luisa Gubieva
Musya: Xenia Grigorieva
Musilda: Regina Rustamova
Vasily and Timofei: Rustam Sagdiev and Andrei Belov

Piano: Vasily Popov

Premiere: 19 November 2017, Mariinsky Theatre

Running time 1 hour
The performance without interval

Age category 0+


Music by Sergei Banevich
Libretto by Inga Bochanova

Musical Director: Larisa Gergieva
Stage Director: Alexei Stepanyuk
Assistant Director and choreographer: Ilya Ustyantsev
Lighting Designer: Valentin Baikov
Costume Technologist: Maria Chernoglazova
Video Designer: Ivan Smirnov
Chorus Master: Rustam Sagdiev


It is Murych the Cat's birthday. The birthday boy's friends Timofei and Vasily arrive to congratulate him. They give him a fishing rod, a can of worms and a knife to clean fish. As an inveterate fisherman, Murych is delighted with his presents. He promises to go and catch a fish at Anichkov Bridge and reveals his dearest secret to his friends: before casting a line you have to spit on the worm a few times.

Musya and Musilda arrive - Murych is very much in love with the latter. Musylda has forgotten her umbrella at home, and she and her friend are almost drenched. Murych calms her and tells her a merry tale about how once he protected himself from the rain using a copper basin. To honour the resourceful birthday boy, Musya and Musilda perform Rossini's Duetto buffo di due gatti ("Cats' Duet").

Murych boasts that he has been able to slip by the angry dog that has hidden behind the fence. Musilda is thrilled by his courage and calls him a hero. But all agree unanimously that the Grandmother is the true heroine: she never scolds, she cooks tasty food and sings songs to the kittens. She is the best on the planet! Murka Barsikovna is meanwhile laying the table, and Vasily the cat brings a huge festive cake: "A cat's birthday is sheer happiness!"

Sergei Banevich (1941–) is rightly acclaimed as a classic of children's music. The key to the composer's success may be seen perfectly through his own words: "As a professional musician I am convinced that classical music, indeed any music in general, makes a young person pull him – or herself together and look at him – or herself, because a child has a huge, interesting and spiritual world that is of no less importance than the spiritual world of an adult. True music can awaken that world."

Banevich's work is linked not just with music education (he has founded international children's music festivals in St Petersburg), but also with attracting children to musical theatre. For young audiences he began to compose at the very start of his creative career. "To write operas and operettas for children, based on contemporary intonations. And at the same time to use the experience of Sergei Prokofiev, but to combine its achievements with the music of modern life, taking the best it has to offer," is how the composer describes the task he faces.

Several generations have grown up with Banevich's music. The composer has an excellent understanding of the ways that young children perceive things and has an ability to compose accessible yet professional music for them. His works include the operas The Little Town in the Snuff-Box, Twelve Months, Ferdinand the Magnificent, How We Switched on the Night and the ballets The Little Mermaid, Thumbelina and Bambi to name but a few. Murych the Cat (2017) is Banevich's fifth opera for the Mariinsky Theatre. The story about the resourceful and somewhat boastful cat Murych, who celebrates his birthday with his family and friends, is targeted at the youngest audiences and finds a keen response from both children and their parents. Olga Vokina

Performed to piano accompaniment

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