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Valentina Bergman married the composer Aleksandr Serov in 1863. She was a student at the St. Petersburg conservatory, but could not get on with Anton Rubinstein. She turned to Serov, at that time only known for his writings. After the big success of his opera Judith, Serov proposed to Valentina. In 1865 their son Valentin was born, who was to become a famous painter, renowned for his portraits. Aleksandr Serov died in 1871 of a heart attack and Valentina completed the last act of his third opera, based on sketches and on her memory of what Aleksandr had played to her. The composer N.F. Solovyov helped her with the instrumentation and the editing of some numbers. This opera, The Power of Evil, received its first performance in 1875.
Having acquired the taste, Valentina started composing opera’s herself. She send her first attempt, Uriel Acosta, to Napravnik (1880), who answered with a very critical letter. Valentina revised the opera and managed to get it staged at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. In 1885 she sent a copy of the score to Tchaikovsky, who seldom had seen such a clumsy composition, as he wrote to Mrs. von Meck. Her second opera, Maria d’Orval, was again turned down in St. Petersburg. The manuscript is lost. However, the next one, Il’ya Muromets, was staged with success in Moscow. The title role was performed by Fyodor Shalyapin. Valentina’s fourth and last opera has not been preserved.
Valentina Serova-Bergman died June 1924 in Moscow. The widow of a man who was born during the reign of Tsar Aleksandr the First, she survived Lenin.