NABOKV-L post 0022809, Tue, 8 May 2012 00:14:46 -0700

Sirin & Zhar-ptitsa cult?
In my pursuit of Kalmakov, I came across a costume design by
Goncharova for the character 'Sirin' in the Ballets Russes production
of the Rimsky-Korsakov opera Tsar Saltan.

Has anyone really studied the meaning(s) and implication(s) of VN's
choice of nom de bird? The Wikipedia article on the subject of the
sirin is full of intriguing possibilities. At the very least, I should
have thought someone would have addressed the sexual implications - I
searched the archives and found nothing. Can anyone suggest a book
where this might have been discussed?

Related to Sirin are Alkonost and the Swan Queen - like 'Sirin' the
Swan Queen plays a role in Tsar Saltan. According to Richard Taruskin
these are "realtives and ancestors" of the Firebird/Zhar ptitsa.
Taruskin further writes that there developed amongst Russian artistic
emigre circles a cult of the Firebird, which reached its apogee in the
eponymous book of poems (1907) by Bal'mont but was reflected in the
literary/art review Zhar ptitsa*, published much later (1921-1923). It
seems possible that in choosing the name 'Sirin,' VN intended to
affiliate himself with this cult.

C Kunin

*VN published in Zhar ptitsa under the name 'Sirin.'

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