Based on "Moscow, Cheryomushki" by Dmitri Shostakovich
Moscow, Cheryomushki (Russian: Moskva, Cheryomushki) is an operetta in three acts by Dmitri Shostakovich, his Op. 105. It is sometimes referred to as simply Cheryomushki. Cheryomushki is a district in Moscow full of cheap subsidized housing built in 1956, and the word is also commonly used for such housing projects in general.
The libretto was written by the experienced team of Vladimir Mass and Mikhail Chervinsky, leading Soviet humorists of the day. The satirical plot dealt with a topical theme geared to one of the most pressing concerns of urban Russians, the chronic housing shortages and the difficulties of securing livable conditions. Cheryomushki translates to “bird-cherry trees” and the operetta was named after a real housing estate in southwest Moscow.
The work was completed in 1958 and received its premiere in the capital on 24 January 1959. The operetta is reminiscent of Shostakovich’s popular music of the period, yet at the same time it engages a satirical assessment of the housing redevelopments in Moscow.
Boris Koretsky has just returned to Moscow from the North. His former house was demolished, and he has nowhere to live. His friend Sergei suggests that Boris stays with him. In the night Barabashkin leads the MGB officers into the house. They take one of the residents away. A gang of hooligans interrupts the residents’ May Day celebrations. The Gang Leader molests Lidochka, and Boris interferes. Bubentsov and Lidochka conduct an excursion at the VDNKH exhibition center. Bubentsov's wife Masha, Boris and Sergei are also there. The Bubentsovs dream about an apartment of their own: at the moment they have to live in different places. The Leader appears with his gang. He ridicules Lidochka’s job and the exhibits. Baburov runs in and says that their house is being destroyed. The residents gather together. Drebednev, Vava and Barabashkin arrive and announce that according to the General Plan of the Reconstruction of Moscow their house will be pulled down. Sergei finds Drebednev’s briefcase with the warrants for the new apartments. The residents grab their belongings from the house and rush to their new place.
The site of the new building is still under construction. Lucy. Sergei’s girlfriend, is among the builders. She thinks Sergei is after her new flat, not herself. They quarrel. The authorities wouldn’t let the newcomers in. Boris and Lidochka get into the apartment with the help of a building crane. Boris, in a joking manner, proposes to Lidochka, but she refuses. Boris speaks to Lidochka about his love, but the girl does not believe him. A loud noise is heard. Barabashkin and Drebednev appear in the wall aperture. They announce that there is no apartment, as it is a part of Drebednev’s and his wife’s housing space. Boris hides to see what happens next.
Boris tells the residents what he has heard in the apartment. The residents want to find the swindlers, and go in search of Drebednev, Vava and Barabashkin. Boris runs away to look for the Baburovs. Only Lucy and Sergei remain. They declare love to each other. The newcomers return, they bring Drebednev, Vava and Barabashkin in. Drebednev announces that the house is accepted, and they can get the keys. The delighted residents queue to the office, forgetting about the Baburovs. Boris tries to convince Drebednev that Vava needs a five-room apartment only to get more living space after she divorces him. Lidochka is disgusted by Boris and his methods. She doesn’t want to see him again. Vava and Drebednev appear, she has convinced him of her innocence. Boris has lost. Drebednev orders the district police officer to arrest Boris and the Baburovs for violating passport regulations; he removes Lucy from the forewoman post; he threatens the Bubentsovs to disclose their participation in the theft of the warrants. There is a phone call. Drebednev goes to the management. After that he gives the keys to the apartment to Baburov. He tells Vava that he has been removed from his post. It turns out that Boris has reported him. Vava makes a scene to her husband and threatens Boris. The newly inhabited house looks more and more as the former place. The gang comes there to defend Vava’s interests. A fight breaks out. Boris unintentionally kills Sergei with the Gang Leader’s knife. Sergei, dying, says goodbye to Lucy and confesses to her that he loves her. The district police officer arrests Boris. Boris offers all those present to try to correct things. There is a sudden lapse back in time. The residents happily settle down in the new house. Lidochka returnes Boris’s love. Boris wants to make fireworks on the occasion of the holiday, but there is an explosion instead. After the smoke melts away, the new residential quarters are seen at the back. The end.
Dmitri Shostakovich (1906–1975) Libretto by V.Mass and M. Chervinsky
Language : russian
Title: Taram-param, ni-na, ni-na, or the housing shortage has soured them