Music: Russlan, Ludmilla and Sarah

The overture to Mikhail Glinka's Russlan and Ludmilla is one of the most overworked pops-concert favorites. It is also one of the best—taut, joyously melodic, brilliantly orchestrated. Thanks to the inquisitive Sarah Caldwell, we now know what follows the overture—an equally delightful opera. With Caldwell on the podium and in charge of stagecraft, the Opera Company of Boston opened its 19th season last week with the first known staging in the U.S. of this Russian classic.

Though Caldwell's career as a symphonic conductor continues to flourish (she made her Boston Symphony debut in January), she is a musician who belongs to...

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