Ukrainian comic opera Cossacks in Exile (Zaporozhets Za Dunayem). First premiered in 1863.
Ivan pretends to be a Muslim and goes to see the Sultan, his daughter and her lover have been taken as slaves by the Ottomans.
I love the spectacle of opera, and I enjoyed this one’s comic scenes, but as a writer, I’ve always been especially annoyed at the pathetic narratives. This one was typical.
My two big objections to the story:
1) God from the machine. A letter from the Sultan seemingly fixed everything at the end. It’s completely unsatisfying. Happy endings need to be earned by the characters.
2) Hiding the drama. (A common error of cowardly story tellers.) Ivan the Kozak pretends to be a Muslim and goes to see the Sultan, but the meeting, and supposedly the turning point of the story, happens off stage. A lot of writers do this. I think it’s either fear of the intensity, or fear of screwing up pivotal moments.
For a counter example of avoiding the big moments, read the last four chapters of Conrad’s fantastic The Secret Agent. (My video review here: https://youtu.be/qrLTlYNFUaM?t=2m50s)