Why is the ruling hero in Russian operas so all-powerful? What psychology and national identities are hidden behind these characters? Why are the singers and dancers always presented as enchanting and at the same time as terrifying? Who is really behind the enemy images of Russian composers? How are the great traditions of “Holy Russia” and the myth of Saint Petersburg, and their struggle for power, presented in the opera? What myths or symbols underlie such figures as Boris Godunov and Marfa, Kontschak and the old Duchess, Tatjana and German, Polen and Kitesch? How are gender roles defined in Russian opera? The renowned Russian opera critic Alexei Parin answers these and many other questions in a clear and yet subtle language, and situates Russian opera in a European context. He approaches Russian opera from a variety of perspectives and develops an amazingly multi-layered methodology, employing cultural history, philosophy of history, gender studies, and mythology as well as analytic psychology and philosophical hermeneutics, in order to present the history of Russian opera – from Verstovski and Glinka to Prokofiev and Shostakovich ¬– in its entire multifaceted nature.