Demon resurrected at Bard

Nadezdah Babintseva, Olga Tolkmit and Efim Zavalny in Anton Rubinstein’s Demon at Bard Summerscape (Maria Baranova)

Though wildly popular in its native Russia, Anton Rubinstein’s 1871 opera Demon is rarely mounted in the West. So it naturally falls to Bard SummerScape, with its ongoing mission to revive at least one unjustly neglected operatic work at the Fisher Center each summer, to right this wrong. Best-known as a keyboard virtuoso and star teacher whose students included Tchaikovsky, Rubinstein was also a prolific composer – not to mention a contemporary of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, the focus of the 2018 iteration of the Bard Music Festival. Consequently, the time has come for summoning Demon, the most popular of Rubinstein’s 20 operas, to American shores. The new production opens this Friday and runs for five performances through August 5.

Thaddeus Strassberger, director of such previous SummerScape opera success stories as Der ferne Klang, Les Huguenots and Oresteia, will helm the production. The vocal cast includes baritone Efim Zavalny, making his US debut in the title role. Also performing will be soprano Olga Tolkmit as Tamara, bass Andrey Valentii as Prince Gudal, mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Egorova as Tamara’s Nanny, tenor Alexander Nesterenko as Prince Sinodal, bass-baritone Yakov Strizhak as the Old Servant, mezzo-soprano Nadezhda Babintseva as the Angel and tenor Pavel Sulyandziga as the Messenger. Leon Botstein will conduct the American Symphony Orchestra and James Bagwell the Bard Festival Chorale.


Demon will be performed in the Sosnoff Theater of the Fisher Center in Annandale at 8 p.m. on July 27 and at 2 p.m. on July 29, August 1, 3 and 5. Ticket prices start at $25 general admission, $5 for Bard students. A free Opera Talk will precede the July 29 matinée. To purchase tickets or find out more, visit