The premiere took place in Saint Petersburg on 27 November 1842 at the Bolshoi Kamenniy Teatr. The initial lack of enthusiasm for this Russian-inspired production has been attributed to the St. Petersburg's audience's growing taste at the time for Italian opera, which was so pronounced that in 1843, Tsar Nicholas I established an Italian opera company in the Bolshoi Kamenniy Teatr, and the Russian opera company lost its home. Four years later, the opera was given its Moscow premiere at the Bolshoi Theatre in 1846. The opera has been a mainstay of the Bolshoi, having staged over 700 performances in 9 different productions over the past 165 years.
The opera was first performed on 4 June 1931 at the Lyceum Theatre in London and in the US as a concert version in New York on 26 December 1942. It was given its first staged performance in the US by Sarah Caldwell's Opera Company of Boston on 5 March 1977.