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The Cavalry Maiden: A swashbuckling adventure

Published time: January 13, 2012 10:41
Edited time: January 13, 2012 18:29
Monument to Nadezhda Durova in her native town Elabuga.

Monument to Nadezhda Durova in her native town Elabuga.

She ran away from home at 16, joined the army, fought in a war against foreign invaders, was wounded several times, received numerous military honors, and, upon an advice from a friend, published memoirs detailing her life.

Sounds like a tough cookie?

Then we must also mention that the Russian woman in question, Nadezhda Durova, started her illustrious military career in 1806, and spent most of her time pretending to be a man. Her sex was known to a select few, including Tsar Aleksander I, who granted her special honors, amazed by her daring. And the friend who suggested going public with the memoirs was none other than Aleksander Pushkin, considered the greatest Russian poet.

Durova’s life sounds incredible by modern-day standards, as well. So, when director of the Nadezhda Durova museum Farida Valitova recounted it while on a trip to Salzburg, the story made such an impression, that two musicians decided to write an entire opera about the fascinating woman.

Titled Cavalry Maiden, the opera belongs to Martha Sharp and Adriaan de Wit, professors at Salzburg’s Mozarteum Music and Dramatic Arts University.

The authors say Durova’s life is a great example of how pre-emancipation women realized their dreams and pushed boundaries in a male-dominated society.

A delegation from the Durova museum, which is located in Russia’s Tatarstan, will be guests of honor at the opening of this unusual opera in Salzburg later this month.