Ballet Music from Feramors
The idea for Feramors was conceived in the first half of 1861. In late spring of that year, Rubinstein wrote to Yuri Rodenberg: “Please get down to Lalla Ruk right now, since I have an urgent desire to take up the subject.” The composer was engrossed with the ethical idea behind this future opera: the glorification of noble, elevated love as opposed to crude sensual desire.
In both the opera’s libretto and music, the influence of French lyrical opera – as exemplified by Gounod’s Faust – is apparent. Rubinstein did not seek to imitate the French composers, attempting instead “to cultivate the same garden” in a unique way. Feramors was created during the same period as Bizet’s oriental opera The Pearl Fishers (1863) and was, in fact, one of the first lyrical operas based on an oriental subject, which several French composers later employed (Bizet in Djamileh, Delibes in Lakmé and Saint-Saëns in Samson et Delila).
Rubinstein and his librettist finished the opera in the summer of 1862. The music in general is rather irregular. In its best parts, the most attractive qualities of the composer’s creative gift are revealed – first and foremost, his melodic talent. Rubinstein apparently considered the melodic language of his opera one to be of its strongest points. Indeed, the musical language of the opera is elegant, plastic and harmonious – but it never reaches strong dramatic heights.
After Feramors, Rubinstein worked on several operas with similar subjects, but finished none of them. It is evident, however, that Feramors, along with another of his operas, The Children of the Steppes, played a very important role in Rubinstein’s creative development and prepared the way for his lyrical opera The Demon – written in 1871-72 and considered one of the composer’s finest achievements.
— excerpts from the album liner notes