This serious and fundamental music seems very alien to a rather unusual and little-known opera-farce Bogatyri, (The Heroic Warriors) composed by Borodin, which was performed at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow in 1867.
It is noteworthy that Borodin was creating Bogatyri in secret, unbeknownst to his friends, because he did not want this light-minded composition to discredit the high-minded goals of his group.
The fairy-tale plot of Bogatyri is based on the same story as the opera Ruslan and Lyudmila by Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka: kidnapping of the bride, a search and release campaign by Russian knights.
In order to feel the sense of parody, we shall briefly review the plot of Bogatyri. The plot was very simple: it is a parody of a Russian fairy tale kingdom.
Specificity of Bogatyri is that the composer used a lot of pieces of music (absolutely different from each other both in terms of genre and style) as object of parody in his operetta.
Rossini's melodies from Il barbiere di Siviglia which constitute the musical basis of chorus of girls in Bogatyri, give a hint of further events: Borodin used the terzetto of Figaro, Count and Rosina from the second act ("Zitti, zitti, piano, piano, non facciamo confusione") and final chorus "Di si felice innesto serbiam memoria eterna".
One more quote from Il barbiere di Siviglia from Act 2, the "Storm" scene, can be found in a scene of offering to a Slav god Perun (the second scene of Bogatyri, No.
Bogatyri does not treat it seriously beyond the very first phrases: "Let him die!
The solemnity and significance of the situation is completely reinterpreted in a comic way in Bogatyri. Prince Gustomysl, who observed the duel between Foma and Amelfa while hiding in the raspberry-canes during the fight boasts that he knew the outcome already: "I have foreseen such outcome of the battle and was quietly waiting for your reports" (with no mention of his foreseeing the future while sitting in the raspberry-canes).
In 1936 Bedny composed a new libretto for the comic opera Bogatyri
("Heroes") by Aleksandr Borodin; his verse text, in the spirit of the original music, satirized Russian history and its epic heroes.
His crude propaganda poetry earned him a prominent place in Soviet letters until 1936, when his opera libretto, Bogatyri
(Epic Heroes), displeased the authorities because it spoofed the Russian epic tradition of folk poetry and the introduction of Christianity to Russia.