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Sergei Prokofiev's Opera 'War And Peace' At 70

On October 16, 1944, Sergei Prokofiev's opera "War and Peace" debuted for a private audience with piano accompaniment at the Moscow Actors' Center. Prokofiev revised the opera at least a dozen times in an effort to win a seal of approval from the Soviet authorities, who demanded a clearly patriotic emphasis in the saga of the 1812 French invasion of Russia. During the revision process, which coincided with World War II, the opera became increasingly bombastic, adding nationalistic marches and choruses. The final version would not be performed at the prestigious Bolshoi Theater until six years after the deaths of both the composer and Stalin. In recent years, music historians have tried to recreate Prokofiev's earlier scores to revisit his original musical conception of the opera.

A 1941 painting by Igor Grabar, titled "S. Prokofiev Working on War and Peace." The Russian libretto, based on Lev Tolstoy's novel, was written by the composer and his partner Mira Mendelson.
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A 1941 painting by Igor Grabar, titled "S. Prokofiev Working on War and Peace." The Russian libretto, based on Lev Tolstoy's novel, was written by the composer and his partner Mira Mendelson.

Prokofiev's signature on a musical score of "War and Peace"
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Prokofiev's signature on a musical score of "War and Peace"

A scene from "War and Peace" is performed at  the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Music Theater on January 1, 1957, four years after the composer's death. The performance was the first time the complete opera was staged.
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A scene from "War and Peace" is performed at  the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Music Theater on January 1, 1957, four years after the composer's death. The performance was the first time the complete opera was staged.

Alexander Vedernikov (right) as Mikhail Kutuzov and Yevgeny Kibkalo as Andrei Bolkonsky perform a scene at the State Academic Bolshoi Theater on September 1, 1966.
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Alexander Vedernikov (right) as Mikhail Kutuzov and Yevgeny Kibkalo as Andrei Bolkonsky perform a scene at the State Academic Bolshoi Theater on September 1, 1966.

A performance at the State Academic Bolshoi Theater on June 1, 1974
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A performance at the State Academic Bolshoi Theater on June 1, 1974

Roman Muravitsky and Andrei Grigoriyev appear as Pierre Bezukhov and Prince Andrei Bolkonski at the Bolshoi Theater on December 9, 2005.
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Roman Muravitsky and Andrei Grigoriyev appear as Pierre Bezukhov and Prince Andrei Bolkonski at the Bolshoi Theater on December 9, 2005.

Natalya Petrozhitskaya as Natasha Rostova in a run-through of a new production of "War and Peace" at the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Music Theater on March 25, 2012.
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Natalya Petrozhitskaya as Natasha Rostova in a run-through of a new production of "War and Peace" at the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Music Theater on March 25, 2012.

Natalya Petrozhitskaya as Natasha Rostova and Dmitry Zuyev as Andrei Bolkonsky in a run-through at the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Music Theater.
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Natalya Petrozhitskaya as Natasha Rostova and Dmitry Zuyev as Andrei Bolkonsky in a run-through at the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Music Theater.

A performance at St. Petersburg's Mariinsky Theater incorporates modern set and costume elements.
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A performance at St. Petersburg's Mariinsky Theater incorporates modern set and costume elements.

The chorus sings in a modern staging at St. Petersburg's Mariinsky Theater on July 18, 2014.
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The chorus sings in a modern staging at St. Petersburg's Mariinsky Theater on July 18, 2014.

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