Monna Vanna, unfinished opera
Act I
(orchestrated by Gennadi Belov)

Songs (with Soile Isokoski)

Vladimir Avtomonov, baritone
Evgeniya Dushina, soprano
Mikhail Golovushkin, bass
Edward Arutyunyan, tenor
Dmitri Ivanchey, tenor
Moscow Conservatory Students Choir and Symphony Orchestra
Moscow Conservatory Opera Soloists
Soile Isokoski, soprano
Vladimir Ashkenazy, piano
Vladimir Ashkenazy, conductor



Sleeve notes in English. Libretto and song lyrics in English transliteration and translation.


June 2014

Catalogue No.:
ODE 1249-2


Track listing

CD 57:18
Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943)
Monna Vanna, unfinished opera 38:06
1 Introduction 1:20
2 Scene I 4:49
3 Scene II 14:37
4 Scene III 17:18
5 By My Window, Op. 26/10 1:58
6 Sad Night, Op. 26/12 2:05
7 The lilacs, Op. 21/5 1:32
8 The rat-catcher, Op. 38/4 2:24
9 Vocalise, Op. 34/14 5:40
10 How nice this place is, Op. 21/7 1:46
11 Dream, Op. 38/5 3:01

Press review

Soile Isokoski is radiant in 'By my window'. Even the wordless 'Vocalise' conveys luminous meaning; and 'The Dream', one of Rachmaninov's last songs and a masterpiece, makes one wish for much more. Ashkenazy rounds off the giddying harmonies of the coda with artistry.

Performance: ****/*****, Recording: *****
David Nice, BBC Music Magazine, October 2014
This is a vast improvement on the only other recording of Rachmaninov's Monna Vanna, released in 1992. A major plus is that this new one is sung in the original Russian (...). Ashkenazy and his forces inject considerable dramatic impetus into the music, the vocal lines of which follow the free-flowing, post-Mussorgsky pattern of Rachmaninov's other mature operas, Francesca da Rimini and The Miserly Knight. With the bonus of Soile Isokoski's beautiful singing of seven of Rachmaninov's most familiar songs, this is a tantalising disc (...). Rachmaninov never lost faith in Monna Vanna. This performance shows why.
Geoffrey Norris, Gramophone, Awards Issue 2014

Complete description

Ondine releases a new recording of Sergei Rachmaninov's (1873-1943) rarely heard unfinished opera Monna Vanna. In this recording the opera is performed on a newer edition by Gennadi Belov and conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy, an iconic artist for many decades and an expert in Russian music.

Second part of this disc consists of seven songs by Rachmaninov (including the hauntingly beautiful Vocalise), featuring, as Ashkenazy's personal wish, the Finnish soprano Soile Isokoski accompanied on the piano by Vladimir Ashkenazy.


Rachmaninov wrote the 1st Act of his Monna Vanna opera in 1907 while writing some of his major works: the Symphony No. 2 and Piano Sonata No. 1. It was the only major score that the composer took with him into his exile in the USA after the 1917 revolution. However, after learning that the libretto rights for the play in the meantime had been given to French composer Henri Février, Rachmaninov gave up the work and upon his death the opera fragment fell into oblivion. The work was finally premiered in New York in 1984.


The opera, based upon a play by Maurice Maeterlinck, is performed in the recording by the Moscow Conservatory Symphony Orchestra, Students Choir and Opera Soloists. This is a premiere recording of the opera sung in Russian, the language in which Rachmaninov intended it to be performed.