PERFORMED IN A RAILWAY STATION
S.-Peterburg Tipografiia „Iakor’“ … 1912.
Small 8vo (174 × 108 mm), pp. 32; stamp of the music publisher Vasily Bessel (who published the piano score of the opera) to p.  (blank); light toning due to paper stock; original printed wrappers, light marginal browning, small chip at head.
Very rare first edition of the libretto to Davidov’s opera, by the dance critic Valerian Svetlov after Maurice Maeterlinck’s play Soeur Béatrice
. The premiere took place in June 1912, at the railway station in Pavlovsk, just outside St Petersburg, as a fundraiser for the orphans of workers on the Moscow–Vindava (i.e. Ventspils, Latvia) Railway. The young soprano Maria Brian (1886–1965) took the title role, which she reprised for the work’s next performance, in St Petersburg, in 1914.
Davidov (1867–1940) was a founder member, and later chairman of the St Petersburg Music Society in the 1890s. Although he wrote two operas, and other works, music was not to be his career: he was the head of the Commercial Bank of St Petersburg (1909–17) and a member of the board of the stock exchange, fleeing Russia after the Revolution for Berlin, where he spent the rest of his life.
Bernandt, p. 35. Not found in WorldCat, which lists a sole copy of Bessel’s 1914 libretto (National Library of Australia).