Today, 6th January 2004, Ilya Musin would have been 100 years old. He was a People's Artist of Russia, Honorary Doctor of the Royal Academy of Music in London, a Professor at the St Petersburg Conservatoire and an outstanding teacher who created a unique Russian conducting school. Ilya Musin began his teaching career at the Leningrad/St Petersburg Conservatoire in 1933, and taught a galaxy of students who subsequently went on to achieve world renown, among them Rudolf Barshai, Yuozas Domarcas, Odissei Dimitriadi, Konstantin Simeonov, Semyon Bychkov, Yuri Temirkanov, Vassily Sinaisky, Valery Gergiev, Arnold Katz and Vladislav Chernushenko.
Musin considered conducting to be a form of art, and people came to learn his stunning technique from all over the world. He planned a fourth book - The Language of Conducting Gestures - in addition to the three he had already published - The Technique of Conducting, The Training of a Conductor and Lessons in Life.
Ilya Musin died in 1999.
On 6th January 2004, Ilya Musin's students will be paying tribute to their teacher. Representatives of the Mariinsky Theatre, the St Petersburg Conservatoire and the St Petersburg Philharmonic will be laying flowers on his grave in Volkovo Cemetery.
The Mariinsky Theatre will make its own modest offering to one of the 20th century's greatest music teachers with a series of performances (6th-12th January). The theatre will be dedicating the following performances to Ilya Musin: Rimsky-Korsakov's Sadko, Glinka's Ruslan and Lyudmila, Borodin's Prince Igor, Verdi's Aida and Mozart's Don Giovanni, to be performed by the theatre's leading opera soloists, among them Anna Netrebko, Olga Savova, Olga Sergeyeva, Larisa Shevchenko, Gennady Bezzubenkov, Vladimir Vaneyev, Yevgeny Nikitin, Nikolai Putilin and Alexei Steblianko.
THE NEW YORK TIMES CALLS KIROV OPERA'S "RING" CYCLE "EPOCHAL" GERMAN PRESS LAUDS FIRST FOREIGN "RING" CYCLE EVER PRESENTED ON GERMAN SOIL KIROV'S HISTORIC "RING" RETURNS TO ST. PETERSBURG FOR STARS OF THE WHITE NIGHTS FESTIVAL IN JUNE 2004 'This was a 'Ring' to match the four or five most important stagings since the middle of the last century.' The New York Times, February 3, 2004 John Rockwell of the New York Times concludes today in his piece 'Russians Make History Singing Wagner' that the Kirov Opera of the Mariinsky Theatre's production of the 'Ring des Nibelungen', which on January 27 completed its second 'Ring' cycle in one month at the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, is 'historically significant', 'epochal, even', and that 'this was a 'Ring' to match the four or five most important stagings since the middle of the last century.'
The next complete performance of the Kirov Opera's 'Ring' Cycle will be presented at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, from June 10 - 15 during the 12th annual 'Stars of the White Nights Festival':
Thursday, June 10: DAS RHEINGOLD
Friday, June 11: DIE WALKURE
Sunday, June 13: SIEGFRIED
Tuesday, June 15: GOTTERDAMMERUNG
Key facts about the Kirov Opera of the Mariinsky Theatre's historic production of the 'Ring des Nibelungen': Kirov Opera of the Mariinsky Theatre's production of the 'Ring' cycle is first Russian 'Ring' since 1913 Mariinsky production concept by Valery Gergiev, Artistic and General Director of the Mariinsky Theatre, and production set designer George Tsypin First foreign 'Ring' production performed on German soil First Russian production of the 'Ring' sung in German Cast of Kirov's 'Ring' drawn entirely from ranks of singers at the Kirov Opera, i.e. an all-Russian cast and no guest artists Mariinsky's new production received premiere at 'Stars of the White Nights Festival' in 2003 on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the founding of St. Petersburg Further excerpts from New York Times piece by John Rockwell entitled 'Russians Make History Singing Wagner': 'Not least, it established Mr. Gergiev as not just a competent but a masterly Wagner conductor, and his Kirov Orchestra as the equal of any other in this music. The pacing and phrasing were deeply satisfying but always original (sometimes a little too original, as in the breakneck speeds for the hero's impetuousness in 'Siegfried'). Mr. Gergiev rose to the heights - all of 'Die Walkure' and Siegfried's Funeral March and the Immolation Scene from 'Gotterdammerung' especially - with rare nobility. And the orchestra's rich sweet strings, dark-hued brass and dazzling solos (the horn calls in 'Siegfried') gave rare pleasure.'
'The Sieglinde of Mlada Khudolei; the Siegmund of Oleg Balashov; the three Brunnhildes of Olga Savova (also the eloquent Waltraute in 'Gotterdammerung'), Larissa Gogolevskaya and Olga Sergeeva; the young Siegfried of Leonid Zakhozheev and the older Siegried of Sergei Liadov; the Fasolt and Wanderer of Yevgeny Kikitin; the Fafner and Hagen of Mikhail Petrenko; and the 16 full-throated Valkyries deserve special mention. It was as if a whole new world of Wagner singing had suddenly opened up.'
'And then there was the look of this 'Ring.'
After his experience with German directors, Mr. Gergiev changed course. Instead of proving that the Kirov could do yet another modern-day German 'Ring,' he decided to make something unique to his company and country: an archaic Russian 'Ring.'
'His collaborator was the stage designer George Tsypin, who was born in Kazakhstan, trained in Moscow and has been long resident in the United States. Together they created primordial, magical stage pictures, reminiscent of the look of the Diaghilev-era stagings still in the Kirov repertory. They drew on Russian, Caucasian and especially Scythian folk mythology; Mr. Gergiev himself comes from Ossetia in the Caucasus.'
'Central to the imagery are four giant figures, like gods, overlooking the action of the puny mortals and the puny Wagnerian gods. But there are also little figures like African mud men, with sticks and roots sprouting from their heads; Americans of a certain age might think of shmoos. All of these creatures, large and small, were made of translucent fiberglass and had hearts that glowed red or white from within. 'There were dancers in Day-Glo hair (orange for fire, green for water) and glow-from-within rocks, all lighted with fantastical purples and greens and yellows by Gleb Filschtinsky. It was wild, delirious, with even a whiff of Matthew Barney's weirdness. Yet the cross-cultural archetypes worked freshly with Wagner's Germano-Icelandic inspirations.'
'For the Kirov company the 'Ring' is a continuing proposition, to be seen again at home and in Tokyo and, who knows, in the United States and still other countries. It has won its German imprimatur, which is as important as had Mr. Gergiev taken his Verdi festival to Italy and triumphed. Yes, more tweaking is necessary : But this was already a pretty extraordinary experience.'
From the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, January 2, 2004 (review of Dec. 25 - 30 Ring Cycle presented at Festspielahus Baden-Baden): 'The performance surely marks the first of what will be a series of high points in this [Baden-Baden and Mariinsky Theatre] relationship, a fact the presentation's tag-line expresses none too exuberantly: 'Mariinsky Opernfestspiele Valery Gergiev' -- honouring the artist Gergiev without whose extraordinary efforts neither St Petersburg nor Baden-Baden would have been able to witness this stunning performance. For both parties involved the cultural significance of this project clearly extends beyond the realms of art.'
'That Gergiev and Tsypin's magical production could inspire a Western audience was amply confirmed at Baden-Baden.'
'The production is held together entirely by Valery Gergiev and his orchestra. His 'Ring' teems with dramatic vigour, a momentous flow, thrilling climaxes, and yet its delicate colour palette and thematic malleability infuse it with calm restraint, exposing moments of lyrical melancholy. Gergiev demonstrates his 'Walkure' is nothing short of the highest callibre. Not only does he inspire in his audience the desire to listen to this rendition repeatedly but also the rest of the Wagner's tetralogy. As such Gergiev may have paved the way for Baden-Baden to become valid competition for Bayreuth'
From Der Tagespiegel (Berlin), January 2, 2004 (review of December 25 - 30 Ring Cycle presented at Festspielahus Baden-Baden): 'A musical and scenic balancing act between an international Wagner-standard and the search for a distinctly Russian way'
'The Russians stepped out of the 'Ring' as champions. It was made clear that the Wagner community should have considerably fewer difficulties in procuring a suitable cast of musicians and actors from now on.'
There will be a performance of Puccini's opera Turandot - last season's best opera production - on 29th November at the Mariinsky Theatre with Vladimir Galuzin and Larissa Shevchenko in the main roles. Valery Gergiev will be conducting.
The opera was premiered at the Mariinsky Theatre in July 2002. Previously, the theatre repertoire had included Puccini's most famous operas Madama Butterfly and La Bohиme, but Turandot was performed only in concert.
Turandot was Puccini's last opera. He referred to the work as a 'lyrical drama', as its basic theme is the story of Prince Calaf's love for a cruel and unfeeling princess, who is defeated by the power of love. Puccini rejected the genre of 'fairy stories for theatre' that Gozzi had created, composing a drama full of strong passions that unfold against a colourful background, where eastern splendour, bloodthirsty cruelty, reality and symbolism are all fantastically merged. The fairy-tale subject is transformed into a story of love and treachery. The sadistic drama unfolds against an exotic backdrop: the craving of the arrogant and luminescent princess, the self-styled 'Daughter of Heaven', to witness the sufferings of others shocks not only the inhabitants of the Heavenly Kingdom, but her father the Emperor, who once unwisely granted that his daughter might choose her own husband. The Princes who have fought to win Turandot are executed one after the other. The sets recreate the stifling world of the Chinese Empire: great columns at the back of the stage and a huge circle in the centre, reminding one of a millstone that makes the chorus resemble a multitude of slaves. The passionate dances and bewitching movements of the spirits of death, maidens in white, intensify the dramatic nature of the opera.
As at the premiere, Calaf will be performed by renowned tenor Vladimir Galuzin, widely considered to be the best interpreter of this role today.
On 1st December, Galuzin will be giving a gala concert at the theatre. The programme, which will include the greatest arias from his repertoire, will be conducted by Valery Gergiev.
Vladimir Galuzin joined the Mariinsky Theatre after working with the Novosibirsk Operetta Theatre and the St Petersburg Chamber Opera Company; his first role at the Mariinsky Theatre was as Verdi's Otello. His first triumph came with his next work as Alexei in Prokofiev's The Gambler. It was this role that confirmed Galuzin's reputation not merely as a great tenor but also as a fine actor able to concentrate the dramatic action on himself.
On 26 and 27 April the Mariinsky Theatre will be staging the premiere of a new production of Rimsky-Korsakov's opera The Snow Maiden.
Musical Director and Conductor: Valery Gergiev; Stage Director: Alexander Galibin; Set Designer: George Tsypin.
The Mariinsky Theatre has once again focussed its attentions on Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's opera, continuing to enrich its repertoire with the composer's greatest works. Premieres in recent years include such operas as The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maid Fevronia and The Golden Cockerel. Aside from these operas, this year's Stars of the White Nights festival will see concert performances of the composer's lesser-known Mlada and May Night. One of the most important factors in mastering Russia's operatic hermitage is demonstrated by the fact that the Theatre always aims to perform the composers' original versions.
There have been three productions of the opera at the Mariinsky Theatre. The opera was first staged by Gennady Kondratiev when theatre directing had just begun to come into its own, followed by a production by Osip Palechek, the first to stage Wagner's operas in Russia, and in 1917 Rimsky-Korsakov's "springtime tale" was staged by Vsevolod Meierhold with designer Konstantin Korovin.
"Whosoever doesn't love my Snow Maiden fails to understand my works and fails to understand me" wrote the composer in 1893. The most popular opera by Rimsky-Korsakov, marking the peak of his creative talents, it has had a varied stage life. The Mariinsky Theatre premiere on 29 January 1882 brought Rimsky-Korsakov more disappointment than satisfaction. Neither the grandeur of the production (which cost the Theatre's administration almost forty thousand roubles), heretofore unknown in Russian opera, nor the brilliant execution of the performance could reconcile Rimsky-Korsakov to the cuts that Napravnik had insisted on. Acclaim and adoration came to The Snow Maiden somewhat later, and it became the composer's most performed work during his lifetime.
The opera has been performed in concert numerous times at the Mariinsky Theatre and during the Theatre's tours.
Among those rehearsing the premiere are soloists from the Mariinsky Academy of Young Singers including Anastasia Belyaeva, Tatiana Borodina, Zhanna Dombrovskaya, Natalia Yevstafieva, Elena Lasovskaya, Olga Markova-Mikhailenko, Olga Trifonova, Yekaterina Popova, Nadezhda Serdyuk, Yekaterina Soloveva, Yevgeny Akimov, Ilya Bannik, Dmitry Voropaev, Vadim Kravets, Vasily Gorshkov, Vladimir Moroz, Edward Tsanga and Daniil Shtoda.
· Stage Director Alexander Galibin: "On the stage, we are creating the world as seen through the eyes of a child. The entire phantasmagoria of the plot and the characters are the Snow Maiden's sensations of the world she finds herself in. But we didn't want to come up with any surprises. We are destroying no traditions, we are not innovating. The main thing is the music, and it needs no interference. The Snow Maiden is an amazingly sincere work, very subtle, it has sacral meaning. Emotionally, it is an incredibly powerful piece, filled with nostalgia for love, for true feeling. The composer gives us to understand the meaning of sacrificial love, the meaning of erotic love: we are trying to show this. Ultimately, I would like the audience to feel they have been touched by something unbelievably beautiful and pure as they leave the auditorium, for this to be an inner sensation like drinking fresh spring water on a hot day."
· Set Designer George Tsypin: "When working on the design for the opera, my source for everything was Rimsky-Korsakov's music, the ideas and thoughts that arose when we began work on the opera while talking to St Petersburg's leading specialists on Rimsky-Korsakov, and what this music made me feel. With The Snow Maiden, I was most of all surprised by the transparency of the music, its universal nature, and this became a major theme for me when working on the sets, just like seeing the world as a dream, the world through the eyes of the Snow Maiden, through the eyes of someone half-child, a newcomer, and so everything looks both grotesque and innocent, as if we are seeing the world for the first time. The idea came to show the opera through St Petersburg and its endless, dirty, gloomy winter. Moreover, there is much in the opera that is reminiscent of the Russian avant-garde of the early 20th century. I'm not interested in working in the artistic mediums of the 21st century. My interest lies in the primitive, the archaic, like Malevich's Russian peasants who combine the universal with antiquity, the primitive. In a way, Rimsky-Korsakov was a man ahead of his time"
3rd March 2004,5th and 7th March as part of the IV International Ballet Festival MARIINSKY
The Mariinsky Theatre is staging an unprecedented premiere - for the first time ever, a Russian ballet company will be performing ballets by WILLIAM FORSYTHE.
WILLIAM FORSYTHE can justly be called the true heir of George Balanchine, the 20th century's greatest choreographer, and, via Balanchine, of Marius Petipa - and thus of the great dance traditions of the Mariinsky Theatre. Forsythe, who set the course for the development of ballet at the close of the 20th and start of the 21st centuries, had previously never been to Russia. A planned installation by the Kremlin walls was forbidden by the authorities in Moscow. In 2002, he came to St Petersburg for the first time where he and four dancers from the Frankfurter Ballett amazed the public at the MARIINSKY ballet festival with the work Artifact-II. One year later, a group of Mariinsky Theatre dancers travelled to Forsythe's studio in Frankfurt. At last, the Mariinsky Theatre and Forsythe came to an agreement to stage three of his famous ballets at the Mariinsky Theatre.
Choreography: William Forsythe
Music: J. S. Bach, Partita No. 2 BWV1004 in D minor, Chaconne
Set, costume and lighting design: William Forsythe
William Forsythe's Assistant: Aaron Watkin
THE VERTIGINOUS THRILL OF EXACTITUDE
Choreography: William Forsythe
Music: Franz Schubert, Symphony Op. 31 in C major
Staging and lighting design: William Forsythe
Costume design: Stephen Galloway
William Forsythe's Assistant: Noah D. Gelber
IN THE MIDDLE, SOMEWHAT ELEVATED
Choreography: William Forsythe
Music: Thom Willems in collaboration with Lesley Schtuk
Set, costume and lighting design: William Forsythe
William Forsythe's Assistant: Katryn Bennets
At the Mariinsky Theatre, William Forsythe's ballets are being rehearsed by Ulyana Lopatkina, Diana Vishneva, Irma Nioradze, Darya Pavlenko, Elvira Tarasova, Natalia Sologub, Sofia Gumerova, Nadezhda Gonchar, Tatiana Tkachenko, Andrian Fadeyev, Igor Kolb, Andrei Merkuriev, Leonid Sarafanov, Anton Korsakov and many young dancers of the Mariinsky Ballet Company.
The name of the ballet In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated came about by absolute chance. Katryn Bennets, head coach of the Frankfurter Ballett and Forsythe's assistant for the staging of In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated at the Mariinsky Theatre, recalls. The scene-painters were to have made a large number of golden objects for the world premiere in Paris. However, they only managed to make a few small 'trifles'. As a result, the enraged Forsythe hung two golden cherries in the middle of the totally empty stage - not very high up, just off the floor. And hence the name of the ballet: In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated. By the way, the staging at the Mariinsky Theatre will be using those very same cherries:" William Forsythe has slightly altered the name of the ballet In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated for the Mariinsky Theatre premiere: the Russian title of the work is Where the Golden Cherries are Hanging.
WILLIAM FORSYTHE was born in New York in 1949, and studied dance at the University of Jacksonville in Florida and later at the Joffrey Ballet School in New York. He began his dance career with the Joffrey Ballet before he moved to Europe in 1973, joining the Stuttgarter Ballett, first as a dancer and later (1976-1981) as a choreographer.
In 1976, Forsythe staged his first ballet - Urlicht - a duet to music by Mahler, which was a resounding success for the choreographer. Forsythe began to create works for the Stuttgarter Ballett, the Basel Ballet, the Bayerisches Staatsballett, the ballet company of the Deutsche Oper in Berlin, the Joffrey Ballet and the Nederlands Dans Theater.
A defining moment in Forsythe's creative life came with his collaboration (at the invitation of Rudolf Nureyev) with the ballet company of the Opйra de Paris, where he staged his famous In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated for rising star Sylvie Guillem.
In 1984, Forsythe was appointed Artistic Director of the Frankfurter Ballett. The twenty years his career has spun have seen the creation of such important works as Gange (1982), Artifact (1984), Impressing the Czar (1988), Limb's Theorem (1991), The Loss of Small Detail (1991), Eidos:Telos (1995), Endless House (1999) and Kammer/Kammer (2000).
Forsythe's ballets are in the repertoires of the world's leading dance companies, among them the New York City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, the National Ballet of Canada, London's Royal Ballet and the ballet company of the Opйra de Paris.
The production is being staged
with the support of KULTUR-STIFTUNG DER DEUTSCHEN BANK
On 8th November, there will be a gala concert of Classics from Italian Opera at the Mariinsky Theatre by soloists of the Academy of Young Singers.
The Academy of Young Singers was established in 1998 on the initiative of Valery Gergiev. The Academy is referred to as both a teaching institution and a part of the Mariinsky Theatre. One thing, however, is beyond dispute: it is almost one of a kind in the world. The Academy of Young Singers gives young soloists the opportunity to combine intensive training, taking part in the theatre's activities and finding out their own image and style, in keeping with the style and rich traditions of the Mariinsky Theatre. 'Every opera house dreams of training young singers itself, in the aesthetics and style that that theatre considers interesting and correct', says Larisa Gergieva, Artistic Director of the Academy and People's Artist of Russia and People's Artist of Alania, 'Now we are spoiled by the number of good voices, and have the opportunity to choose the youngest and the best'.
From the first, the Academy's soloists are driven towards high international standards. This is why they undergo not mere professional musical training, but also acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for contemporary opera soloists. Excellent teachers train the Academy students. Their experience and knowledge, enhanced by the efforts, skills and youth of the soloists, result in accolades from renowned musicians and critics all over the globe. The Academy regularly invites renowned opera singers from theatres such as the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, the Metropolitan Opera and La Scala. Master classes with Pl'cido Domingo, Ileana Cotrubas, Vladimir Atlantov, Renata Scotto, Elena Obraztsova and Dmitry Hvorostovsky are held at the Mariinsky Theatre and in Finland, the UK and the USA.
Several soloists, having graduated from the Academy, have already made remarkable careers for themselves, and many are on the right path. World opera has been made richer with names such as Olga Trifonova, Yevgeny Nikitin, Mikhail Petrenko, Daniil Shtoda, Vladimir Moroz, Yekaterina Semenchuk, Ilya Bannik, Irina Mataeva and Yekaterina Soloveva to name but a few. The Academy's gala concert will see performances of arias from popular Italian operas by composers including Verdi, Bellini, Rossini and Donizetti. Young soloists Anastasia Belyaeva, Irma Gigolashvili, Zhanna Dombrovskaya, Yekaterina Soloveva, Larisa Yudina, Dmitry Voropaev, Andrei Ilyushnikov, Vadim Kravets and Nikolai Kamensky will be among those performing at the concert.
On 2nd December, the Mariinsky Theatre will be staging its first premiere of the 2003-04 season - Camille Saint-Saens' opera Samson et Dalila, with Olga Borodina in the role of Dalila. The Musical Director and Conductor is Valery Gergiev, the Director is Charles Roubaud, the Set Designer is Emmanuel Favre, the Costume Designer is Katia Duflot, the Principal Chorus Master is Andrei Petrenko and the musical preparation is by Natalia Mordashova.
Of Saint-Saens' twelve operas, Samson et Dalila is the only one to have become firmly established in the opera repertoire, although its path to acclaim was long and hard. In 1867, the composer proposed writing an oratorio based on Chapter XVI from the Book of Judges following the traditions of Handel's monumental biblical works. The young poet Ferdinand Lemaire, with whom the composer wished to collaborate, convinced him that he should write an opera. Saint-Saens was alternately inspired and left cold by the work, which in the end took almost ten years to come to fruition.
Act I was performed in concert in Paris, but left the audience apathetic and was criticised by the press. The opera was premiered in full in 1877 thanks to Franz Liszt, then Director of the opera house in Weimar. Only in 1892, twenty years after it was completed, was Samson et Dalila performed for the first time at the Opera de Paris. The opera was first staged at the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre in Russian in 1896. It was directed by Osip Palechek and conducted by Edward Napravnik. The main roles were performed by the company's leading singers Ivan Yershov and Maria Slavina.
The new production will be sung in the original French. Samson et Dalila will be Charles Roubaud and Katia Duflot's third work for the Mariinsky Theatre, following productions of Puccini's Turandot (awarded the Golden Sophit prize for Best Opera) and Verdi's La traviata.
Charles Roubaud made his debut as an opera director in 1986 with a production of Massenet's Don Quichotte at the Opera de Marseilles. This production continues to enjoy success at the Opera de Liege and San Francisco Opera. Over the years, Roubaud has staged works for the Opera de Marseilles, the Opera de Bordeaux, the Opera d'Avignon, theatres in Seville, Verona and Monte Carlo and the Kennedy Center in Washington. He has staged both classical and contemporary works, among them Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, Mozart's Don Giovanni and Die Entfьhrung aus dem Serail, Rossini's La cenerentola, Massenet's Manon, Verdi's Rigoletto, Borodin's Prince Igor, Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, Debussy's Pelleas et Melisande, Strauss' Die Frau ohne Schatten and Salome and Janaиek's Katia Kabanova.
Strauss' Die Frau ohne Schatten, which Roubaud staged in 1993, was awarded the prize for best opera production of the year in France.
Charles Roubaud has staged many productions for Les Choregies d'Orange, France's oldest music festival, including Verdi's Aida (1995), Puccini's Turandot (1997), Bellini's Norma (1999) and Verdi's Don Carlo (2001).
The Mariinsky Theatre will be staging one of last season's most grandiose premieres - Wagner's tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen - at Baden-Baden's Festspielhaus from 25th-30th December. In a sense, the Mariinsky Theatre's staging of the Ring in Germany will be a unique "exam". Valery Gergiev, Artistic and General Director of the theatre, spoke of this at a recent meeting with journalists. He also stressed that 'I have high hopes that there will be an energy of mutual attraction: the great interest of European audiences and our great desire to show that the Ring can be staged in Russia today as well'. In June, when Der Ring des Nibelungen was premiered as part of the Stars of the White Nights festival at the Mariinsky Theatre one hundred years after the tetralogy was first performed there, Die Welt's columnist Manuel Brug wrote "Bayreuth! You have been warned!". Der Ring des Nibelungen will be performed twice at the Festspielhaus, the largest theatre venue in Europe, seating an audience of 2500. The second performance will take place in late January. The roles will be performed by the theatre's leading Wagnerian singers, among them Milana Butaeva, Larisa Gogolevskaya, Olga Savova and Olga Sergeyeva as Brьnnhilde, Oleg Balashov, Leonid Zakhozhaev, Sergei Lyadov and Alexei Steblianko as Siegfried, Vladimir Vaneyev and Mikhail Kit as the supreme god Wotan and Edem Umerov and Viktor Chernomortsev as Alberich.
On 9 and 11 August 2004 Valery Gergiev will be conducting the Mariinsky Opera Company at the Salzburg Music Festival, one of the highlights of the summer musical season in Europe.
The Company will be performing Prokofiev's opera War and Peace in concert.
Among those singing the lead roles are Dmitry Hvorostovsky (Andrei Bolkonsky), Anna Netrebko (Natasha Rostova), Yekaterina Semenchuk (Sonia), Alexei Steblianko (Pierre Bezukhov), Olga Savova (Helene), Larisa Shevchenko (Akhrosimova), Zlata Bulycheva (Princess Mary), Viktor Chernomortsev (Matveyev), Mikhail Kit and Gennady Bezzubenkov (Kutuzov) and Valery Alexeyev (Napoleon).
The Theatre has taken part in this renowned music festival since 1999, when it staged Musorgsky's opera Khovanshchina. The Mariinsky Theatre has since staged Rimsky-Korsakov's The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maiden Fevronia, Tchaikovsky's The Queen of Spades, Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Saint-Saens's Samson et Dalila and symphony music by Prokofiev, Musorgsky and Scriabin at the Salzburg Festival.
With a performance of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin on 9th November, the Mariinsky Opera Company with Maestro Gergiev conducting opened its tour of Japan, which is being held as part of a Festival of Russian Arts devoted to the tercentenary of St Petersburg. The theatre will be staging productions of recent years during the tour, including Prokofiev's War and Peace, Musorgsky's Boris Godunov and Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin.
On 11th and 12th November, Irina Mataeva and Tatiana Pavlovskaya will be performing as Tatiana, Daniil Shtoda and Yevgeny Akimov as Lensky and Dmitry Hvorostovsky and Vladimir Moroz as Onegin in Eugene Onegin. The lead roles in War and Peace will be sung by Anna Netrebko, Irina Mataeva, Zlata Bulycheva, Irina Bogacheva, Dmitry Hvorostovsky, Vladimir Moroz, Gegam Grigorian, Alexei Steblyanko and Gennady Bezzubenkov among others. The Mariinsky Opera Company's tour to Japan will conclude with three performances of the opera Boris Godunov with Sergei Alexashkin and Yevgeny Nikitin in the title role.
On 23rd November, the Mariinsky Ballet Company begins its tour of Japan. The tour programme includes gems from the company's repertoire such as Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet and The Nutcracker (choreography by Vasily Vainonen) and Cinderella, one of the most recent premieres, choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky. Among those performing during the tour are Diana Vishneva, Ulyana Lopatkina, Daria Pavlenko, Natalia Sologub, Igor Zelensky, Danila Korsuntsev, Andrian Fadeyev and Farukh Ruzimatov.
On the 3-rd of December 2003, the Mariinsky Theatre opened a box-office in the centre of St Petersburg, where tickets to performances of current productions will be on sale. The theatre took charge of distributing tickets to its performances in March 2003, a policy which has proved successful. At the same time, in response to requests from city residents, the theatre administration has decided to open the box-office for ease of purchase. The box-office is to be located at the corner of Nevsky Prospekt and Perinnaya Liniya on the mezzanine level of the entrance to the Haute Couture Gallery. The box-office will be open from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Also at the request of the public, the Mariinsky Theatre plans ticket sales three months in advance, as opposed to twenty days as previously. At the new box-office, tickets will be sold through the theatre's unified ticket system, meaning that the public will be able to purchase Mariinsky Theatre tickets at the box office on Nevsky Prospekt, choosing the best price option from the selection available.
The theatre aims to open more box-offices in the city centre in the future.
The Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra will begin a tour of Spain with a performance in Barcelona on 12th January. The Orchestra, conducted by Valery Gergiev, will present a programme of works by Wagner and Shostakovich and will also be performing in Murcia and Valencia.
From 16th January, Mariinsky Theatre soloists, orchestra and chorus will be taking part in the XX Music Festival which opened recently in the Canary Islands. Audiences will have the chance to see Musorgsky's opera Boris Godunov in concert. Valery Gergiev will also be conducting a symphony programme of works by Prokofiev, among them the Classical Symphony, Violin Concerto No1 and the Alexander Nevsky cantata. Leading Spanish newspaper El Paнs referred to the Mariinsky Theatre's tour as the main event of the Music Festival.
On 2nd February, the Mariinsky Theatre will be staging a premiere of Richard Strauss' opera Ariadne auf Naxos for the first time ever in Russia. The Musical Director and Conductor is Valery Gergiev; the Stage Director is Charles Roubaud; the Assistant Director is Jean-Christophe Mast; the Costume Designer is Katia Duflot; the Set Designer is Jean-Noel Lavesvre and the Lighting Designer is Vladimir Lukasevich.
Along with Salome, Ariadne auf Naxos is one of Richard Strauss' most frequently performed operas. But whereas the theatre has staged Salome twice already, Ariadne auf Naxos has only ever been performed in concert at the Mariinsky Theatre. For several years, the theatre has been planning a stage version.
In the first version of 1912, Richard Strauss and dramatist Hugo von Hofmannstahl's masterpiece combined Moliere's comedy Le Bourgeois gentilhomme, cut to two acts, with an opera on a mythological subject instead of a ballet, as in Moliere's version, through which Monsieur Jourdain entertains his guests in the finale. This Ariadne auf Naxos did not enjoy success. Four years later, Hofmannstahl and Strauss decided "to operate" (as the composer put it) and replaced Le Bourgeois gentilhomme with a Prologue.
Ariadne auf Naxos is Strauss' most theatrical opera, and possibly the most theatrical of all 20th century operas as it offers the opportunity to see behind the scenes of an opera production in the Prologue, depicting the drama of the Composer who, at the whim of the master of the house, must introduce commedia dell'arte characters into his serious opera telling the legend of Ariadne. And so in the second part Ariadne, pining for her beloved, meets Zerbinetta, who mockingly sings of being in love for an instant and of fidelity for a moment.
Hofmannstahl thus described the hidden idea of the opera: "It is all about something fantastically simple and vital in life: constancy. Change and transfiguration is the best gift life has to offer, a true mystery to a creative nature, whereas constancy is much the same as numbness and death. And yet man's virtue is inextricably linked to fidelity, to constancy, to being able to feel. That is one of the greatest contradictions on which life itself is based:"
The music in Ariadne includes Wagnerian themes, it includes the composer's detailed studies of Bellini and Donizetti, and it includes the clarity of Mozart. According to musicologists, Ariadne is a "kingdom of melodies".
In Russia, the opera is being staged almost ninety years after it was written, in a way aiming for those audiences of the future by which, as Strauss believed, the second, more mature version of Ariadne auf Naxos was meant to be heard.
Among those rehearsing the opera are Milana Butaeva, Anastasia Belyaeva, Nadezhda Serdyuk, Elena Sommer, Marina Shaguch, Larisa Yudina, Avgust Amonov, Sergei Skorokhodov, Andrei Popov, Vyacheslav Ignatovich, Alexander Timchenko, Vladimir Tyulpanov and Alexei Safiulin.
With the support of The Clore Duffield Foundation (Great Britain)
"Music is a universal language, it has no political leanings, and it effortlessly crosses the language barrier to reach people everywhere. That is why a major festival of this kind can develop unity around the Baltic Sea." With these words Esa-Pekka Salonen describes the aim of the Baltic Sea Festival which will take place from August 19-22 in Stockholm this year. The festival that was held for the first time last summer received much international critical acclaim presenting music and musicians from Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Russia, Denmark and Germany. The Financial Times wrote: "The Baltic Sea Festival more than proved its artistic worthiness as a contender in the annual summer marathon of European music festivals." (September 4, 2003)
The artistic director Esa-Pekka Salonen together with Valery Gergiev and the organizer Swedish Radio Berwaldhallen invited a number of internationally renowned artists from around the Baltic Sea to Stockholm. Along with Salonen, artists such as Valery Gergiev will perform at the festival: "This kind of festival does not only offer fantastic possibilities for musicians and audience but also leaves plenty of space for political and socio-critical discussion." Gergiev will give two performances with the Mariinsky Theater at the Royal Opera as well as a concert at the Berwaldhallen:
Michael Tyden, Chief of the Berwaldhallen and together with Salonen initiator of the festival, is very happy that the festival can be presented with a first class program also this year. "This festival is important in many ways, not just musically. It unifies the countries boardering on the Baltic Sea which is especially significant now that the new countries have joined the European Union." The theme of the Baltic Sea Festival is music and nature. Once again the World Wildlife Found will have a seminar focusing on the Baltic Sea.
Thursday 19 August
The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra
The Swedish Radio Choir
The Eric Ericson Chamber Choir
Esa-Pekka Salonen conductor
(Soloists will be announced shortly)
Mahler: Symphony No 2
Friday 20 August
7.30pm, The Royal Swedish Opera
Valery Gergiev conductor
Shostakovich: The Nose
Saturday 21 August
3pm, The Royal Swedish Opera
Valery Gergiev conductor
Shostakovich: The Nose
10pm, The City Hall
The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra
The Swedish Radio Choir
The Royal Swedish Opera Chorus
Manfred Honeck conductor
(Soloists will be announced shortly)
Sunday 22 August
The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Esa-Pekka Salonen & Valery Gergiev conductors
Stravinsky: The Firebird
Sibelius: Symphony No 1
Programe subject to changes
St Petersburg, Russia 2nd - 11th November 2004.
General Director - Larissa Gergieva
Chairman of the Organization Committee - Igor Rogaliov
Chief Executive - Ekaterina Sirakanian
I. TIME AND PLACE
The VI Rimsky-Korsakov International Competition of Young Opera Singers will take place in St Petersburg, from 2nd to 11th November 2004.
The Competition will be held in:
Maly Glinka Concert Hall of the St Petersburg Philharmonic (30, Nevsky prospekt.)
The State Academic Mariinsky Theatre (1, Teatralnaya Sq.)
1-2 November Arrival of contestants
2 November Opening of the competition and drawing lots
3,4,5 November Round I
6 November day off
7,8 November Round II
9 November day off
10 November Round III
11 November Closing of the competition and the ceremony of awards.
Gala-Concert of the Winners.
Time and place to rehearse will be provided for all contestants
To be eligible to participate in the Competition, contestants must be aged between 18 and 30 years.
III. APPLICATION FORM
1. Applications must be submitted no later than 1 August 2004. To enter the competition, please send it to the address below:
The Mariinsky Young Singers Academy Mariinsky Theatre
1, Teatralanya Sq., 190000, St Petersburg, Russia
Tel: +7 812 326-41-04, Fax: +7 812 114-16-33,
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
2. Please include the following documents with your application:
a. a photocopy of your passport,
b. photographs (3 black and white 3,5cms x 4,5cms; one colour of a postcard size),
c. a professional resume in Russian or in English,
d. a list of your operatic repertoire
e. typed programme for the competition. (Please note that NO CHANGES IN YOUR PROGRAMME ARE POSSIBLE after your application has been submitted)
3. Accompanists will be provided and will be at contestants' disposal during the Contest. Contestants may bring their own accompanists AT THEIR OWN EXPENSE. The information about accompanists (including full name) should be provided by applicants together with the application form.
4. The organization committee will review all applications and accepted applicants will be notified after August 15, 2004.
5. The management reserves the right to reject some applications if the number of applicants exceeds the set limits.
6. BROADCASTS AND RECORDINGS: the rounds and gala concert may be broadcast via television, radio or the internet and recorded for commercial release as CDs, videos or DVDs. By submitting their application, contestants grant the management the right to make broadcasts and recordings of their participation in this competition and to use their name, voice, image, likeness and biographical materials in connection with the same.
7. Contestants must confirm the exact time of arrival by an e-mail message, a fax message or telegramme.
The competition consists of three rounds:
selection (with piano accompaniment) semifinal (with piano accompaniment) final (with orchestral accompaniment)
Contestants must present the following programme:
Major aria from any western European or Russian opera of the XIX century (of the contestant's own choice)
A song (romance) by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (of the contestant's own choice)
One aria or romance by any contemporary composer of XX-XXI century.
4 musical pieces: 2 operatic arias and 2 romances of the contestant's own choice. The programme must include presentation of 4 musical styles: Russian, French, Italian and German.
An aria or scene from an opera by N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov, S. B. Rakhmaninov, P. I. Tchaikovsky, M. P. Musorsky, A. P. Borodin or M. I. Glinka.
Aria from a western-European opera
All the pieces shall be performed in the language of the original, in the original key and by memory.
Successful contestants who reach the final round must have FULL SCORE AND ORCHESTRA PARTS of the musical pieces prepared for the final round of the competition
The panel of distinguished international Judges will select the winners according to the following rules:
not more than half of the contestants may be admitted to the second round of the competition
not more than 10-13 contestants may reach the final round
The decisions of the panel of distinguished international Judges are final. Judges reserve the right to shorten the competition programme if necessary for any reason.
V. THE PRIZES
Grand prix $ 7 000
The following prizes will be awarded one for women, one for men:
I prize $ 3 000
II prize $ 2 000
III prize $ 1 000
Diplomas will be given to all contestants who reach the final round
A prize of $500 will be given to the best accompanist of the Competition.
Special diplomas will be given to two best accompanists of the Competition
The following Special prizes will be awarded: 1. The Rimsky-Korsakov Prize
2. Prize for the best performance of a song or aria by one of the "Mighty Handful"
3. Prize for the best performance of a song or aria by S.V. Rakhmaninov, P.I. Tchaikovsky or M.I. Glinka.
4. Prize for the best performance of a St Petersburg contemporary composer's piece
5. "HOPE" Prize (to the most promising young singer)
VI. ARRIVAL AND ACCOMODATION
All travel and accommodation expenses during the first round are covered by contestants.
The organization committee will book hotel rooms.
The organization committee will pay for the hotel accommodation of the contestants who reach the semifinal and final rounds (from the start of the second round)
VII. ADMISSION FEE
The competition admission fee of $ 100 should be paid in Russian rubles on the day of arrival.
VIII. CONCERT CLOTHES
In the final round and the Gala Concert of the Winners the dress code is: a tail-coat, black tie (smoking) or a black suit for men and a long dress for women.
For further information please contact:
The organization committee of the International Rimsky-Korsakov Competition of Young Opera Singers
Tel. +7 812 114 16 33, 326 21 89,
Fax +7 812 114 1633
THE MARIINSKY THEATRE WILL BE HOSTING THE XII INTERNATIONAL STARS OF THE WHITE NIGHTS FESTIVAL
30 May - 18 July 2004
Artistic Director: Valery Gergiev
This summer the Mariinsky Theatre will host the XII International Stars of the White Nights Festival.
Over seven weeks there will be more than sixty performances and concerts at the Mariinsky Theatre, the Great and Small Halls of the St Petersburg Conservatoire and the Hermitage Theatre as well beyond St Petersburg in Kaliningrad, Vyborg, Ivangorod and Tikhvin.
Highlights of the Festival include:
· premiere of new production of Mikhail Glinka's opera A Life for the Tsar, marking two hundred years since the composer's birth
· the White Nights performance of the internationally acclaimed Der Ring des Nibelungen (10-15 June) · stars of the Mariinsky Opera and Ballet Olga Borodina, Anna Netrebko, Vladimir Galuzin, Ulyana Lopatkina, Diana Vishneva and Igor Zelensky performing their finest roles
· a series of performances entitled The Balanchine Century (2-7 June), marking one hundred years since the birth of George Balanchine, the 20th century's greatest choreographer
· a series of Piano Stars of the White Nights concerts with virtuoso performers Mikhail Pletnev, Alexander Toradze, Yefim Bronfman, Vladimir Feltzman and Tsimon Barto .
The Festival will open with a series of performances marking two hundred years since the birth of Mikhail Glinka, the forefather of Russian classical music. The premiere of the opera A Life for the Tsar (Stage Director and Production Designer: Dmitry Chernyakov) coincides with the date of Glinka's birth. This opera was performed at the opening of the Mariinsky Theatre in 1860, and subsequently opened each new season. From 1939 the Theatre staged a censored version entitled Ivan Susanin. In this anniversary year, the composer's original version with its libretto by Baron Rosen will return to the Mariinsky Theatre. As part of the anniversary celebrations, there will also be a Tribute to Glinka on Theatre Square together with the St Petersburg Conservatoire and a performance of the opera Ruslan and Lyudmila at the theatre, with the recreation of sets and costumes by Alexander Golovin and Konstantin Korovin from the 1904 production. The Mariinsky Theatre will host the Glinka and Musical Theatre round table with music historians from Russia and abroad and will also participate in an exhibition dedicated to the composer organised by the St Petersburg Museum of Theatre and Music.
As part of the Festival, the Mariinsky Theatre will be staging the season's opera premieres: Saint-Saens' Samson et Dalila (Stage Director: Charles Roubaud; Set Designer: Emmanuel Favre), Shostakovich's The Nose (Stage Director: Yuri Alexandrov; Set Designer: Zinovy Margolin) and Rimsky-Korsakov's The Snow Maiden (Stage Director: Alexander Galibin; Set Designer: George Tsypin).
10-15 June will see the second Russian performance of a new production of Richard Wagner's tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen, which the international press has hailed as "a truly historic and epoch-making event". Germany's Tagesspiegel wrote that "the Russians have emerged the victors from The Ring. This Ring has shown this land of great, powerful voices has once again produced magnificent Wagnerian performers".
The opera programme of this year's Festival focuses attention on works by Rimsky-Korsakov. In addition to the Theatre's recent premieres of The Golden Cockerel and The Snow Maiden, there will be a performance of Sadko and concert performances of the rarely performed Mlada and May Night. The Festival playbill includes programmes In Honour of Shostakovich and In Honour of Stravinsky, which will see performances of these composers' opera, ballet and symphony music. As part of the Festival, there will also be performances of Verdi's Requiem, Don Carlos and Otello.
The stars of the Mariinsky Opera will be performing their best roles: Olga Borodina will sing Dalila in Saint-Saens' Samson et Dalila and she will also sing in Verdi's Requiem; Anna Netrebko will perform as Violetta in Verdi's La traviata and as Musette in Puccini's La Bohиme; and Vladimir Galuzin will sing the tittle role in Verdi's Otello and Tchaikovsky's The Queen of Spades. Alongside Mariinsky Theatre soloists, renowned Italian bass Ferruccio Furlanetto will sing in Boris Godunov and Don Carlos and leading Italian soprano Barbara Frittoli will perform in Verdi's Requiem
. The Festival's symphony programme will see performances by the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra under the baton of Valery Gergiev and Gianandrea Noseda, principal guest conductor of the Mariinsky Theatre, and regular Festival guest Christoph Eschenbach, the renowned German conductor and pianist. Mikhail Pletnev, Alexander Toradze, Yefim Bronfman, Vladimir Feltzman and Tsimon Barto will perform in a series of piano concerts during the Festival.
The Mariinsky Ballet will stage a series of performances entitled The Balanchine Century (2-7 June), marking one hundred years since the birth of George Balanchine, the 20th century's greatest choreographer. In addition to Balanchine's own works, there will be performances of ballets by his predecessors and his heirs - Marius Petipa, Fyodor Lopukhov, Vaslav Nijinsky, Bronislava Nijinska and William Forsythe. Artists from the leading ballet theatres from Russia and abroad, including the Perm Theatre of Opera and Ballet, the Opera de Paris, American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet, will perform alongside Mariinsky Theatre soloists. Celebrations at the Mariinsky Theatre marking this anniversary of Balanchine are to include an exhibition and international conference entitled The Balanchine Century in the Hermitage Theatre.
The ballet programme for the Festival includes great classics such as Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky and Petipa/Ivanov, Don Quixote by Minkus and Gorsky, La Bayadиre by Minkus and Petipa, ballets by Fokine, Vaslav Nijinsky, Bronislava Nijinska, Zakharov and Lavrovsky reflecting the search for new choreography in the early 20th century as well as the theatre's most recent works - Chemiakin and Simonov's Nutcracker, Prokofiev's Cinderella, choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky, and the ballets of William Forsythe. Performers will include Mariinsky Theatre soloists Zhanna Ayupova, Diana Vishneva, Ulyana Lopatkina, Daria Pavlenko, Natalia Sologub, Igor Zelensky, Igor Kolb and Andrian Fadeyev. As part of the Festival, there will be performances by the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet at the Mariinsky Theatre. There will also be a gala concert marking 125 years since the birth of this great ballerina and teacher, whose career was closely linked to the glory of the St Petersburg ballet school.
The theatre will continue its tradition of performing outside St Petersburg: the Mariinsky Ballet Company will be performing for the first time in Kaliningrad and Ivangorod, there will be a performance of Richard Wagner's Der Fliegende Hollander in Vyborg Castle and Rimsky-Korsakov's opera The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maid Fevronia will be performed at the Monastery of the Virgin in Tikhvin to honour the return to Russia of the Tikhvin Icon of Our Lady.
On 26 June the Mariinsky will host its traditional Stars of the White Nights Ball in the Catherine Palace in Tsarskoe Selo,one of the grand highlights of the White Nights Festival.
MARIINSKY THEATRE THANKS FOR SUPPORT OF THE STARS OF THE WHITE NIGHTS FESTIVAL
The Ministry of Culture and Mass Communications of the Russian Federation General Sponsor of the Mariinsky Theatre GAZPROM
EVROFINANCE MOSNARBANK for support of the White Nights Ball
DaimlerChrysler for support of the production of der Ring des Nibelungen
SBERBANK OF RUSSIA for support of the project The Balanchine Century
Stiftung der Freunde des Mariinsky Theaters for support of the production Life for the Tsar
VNESHTORGBANK for support of the new production of the production of Snowmaiden
Countess Joko Ceskina for support of the production Samson and Dalila
Ms. Bettina von Siemens for her continuous support of the Mariinsky ballet
ED. SEILER Pianoforte-fabric (Germany)
Brewery Company Baltika
Leningrad regional government for support of the productions in Vyborg, Tikhvin and Ivangorod
Charitable foundations in support of the Mariinsky Theatre:
The Mariinsky Trust (Great Britain),
The White Nights Foundation of America,
The Mariinsky Foundation (Russia),
Mariinsky Friends' Clubs in Finland and Japan
Social-Cultural Foundation HENNESSY
Moet et Chandon
30 May and 1 June, Marking 200 Years since the Birth of Mikhail Glinka The Mariinsky Theatre's Premiere of a New Production of the Opera A Life for the Tsar
Musical Director and Conductor: Valery Gergiev;
Stage Director and Production Designer: Dmitry Chernyakov.
1836 entered Russian cultural history as the year Russian classical opera was born: Glinka's A Life for the Tsar was first staged at the Bolshoi Theatre in St Petersburg on 27 November. The eventual name of the opera (as work progressed such possible titles as Ivan Susanin and To Die for the Tsar were considered) reinforced the patriotic element and increased the scale of the ideas behind the opera: the title stressed that the work is about not the tragic fate of one man but rather about the salvation of an entire nation.
The original version of the opera could not be performed in the Soviet era due to censorship. The poet S. Gorodetsky wrote a new libretto for the opera, avoiding any mention of God and the Tsar. This resulted in the motives behind the plot becoming indistinct: if Mikhail Fyodorovich was not in the Ipatiev Monastery then why were the Poles near Kostroma' With the title Ivan Susanin, the opera was staged at Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre and Leningrad's Kirov Theatre in 1939 (it was subsequently revived at the Kirov Theatre in 1967, followed by a new production in 1974).
The 2004 premiere of A Life for the Tsar at the Mariinsky Theatre is a significant event in the stage history of the work and an important step in reviving the composer's original version with the libretto by Baron Rosen and the subject, mood and idea of Glinka's opera.
Stage Director and Production Designer Dmitry Chernyakov: "A Life for the Tsar, created in 1836, became the first true Russian operatic masterpiece. Musically constructed along European lines (after Bellini and Beethoven whom Glinka so admired) A Life for the Tsar was the first work where Russian consciousness discovered itself. For almost two hundred years the opera would appear in various guises, ranging from a version in the immediate post-Revolution years entitled Hammer and Sickle to the late-Stalinist and ideologically acceptable, grand Soviet version with its new subject and text by S. Gorodetsky. This version was staged in Russia for almost fifty years. But whatever the twists and turns of history, the music itself always spoke to audiences directly. The first masterpiece in Russian opera, being staged here and now, should be a sincere and important pronouncement on the eternal search for the Russian soul, for Russia's Destiny."
Among those rehearsing the opera are Sergei Alexashkin and Gennady Bezzubenkov (Ivan Susanin), Olga Trifonova and Zhanna Dombrovskaya (Antonida), Avgust Amonov and Leonid Zakhozhaev (Bogdan Sobinin) and Zlata Bulycheva and Lyubov Sokolova (Vanya).
Production sponsored by the Stiftung der Freunde des Mariinsky Theaters (Germany)
On 10 April the Mariinsky Theatre is staging a premiere of Dmitry Shostakovich's opera The Nose. The Musical Director and Conductor is Valery Gergiev, the Stage Director is Yuri Alexandrov and the Set Designer is Zinovy Margolin.
The Nose, written in 1928 by the 22 year old composer, was Dmitry Shostakovich's first opera. The opera was staged only twice in Soviet times. It was staged in Leningrad in 1930 by Nikolai Smolich (with conductor Samuil Samosud and designer Vladimir Dmitriev), but was dropped from the repertoire a year later. In Moscow in 1974, Boris Pokrovsky staged The Nose with the Chamber Music Theatre (with conductor Gennady Rozhdestvensky).
Taking one of the most fantastical works of Russian literature Shostakovich, in his own words, "made a symphony of Gogol's text", thus showing its drama and depth. The libretto was written by young writers Georgy Ionin and Alexander Preis and the venerable Yevgeny Zamyatin. They maintained the larger part of the text of the short story, inserting, however, phrases from other works by Gogol here and there as well as extracts from Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov.
The Mariinsky Theatre has already staged Shostakovich's opera Katerina Ismailova and its original version Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, and the theatre Orchestra regularly performs the composer's symphony works. Staging The Nose is the next step in mastering Shostakovich's music, music without which 20th-21st century art would be unimaginable.
Talking about the opera, Yuri Alexandrov says "Personally, I call this work The Passion of Kovalev. When the human body separates from the soul, and when each chases the other in a strange, phantasmagorical world, a person's actions are of the greatest importance for me. This is what the opera is about - seeking out both oneself and the terrible fate one is ruled by. Through the turns of Fate, a man becomes fragments of himself. And the most terrifying thing in this story is that the hero and the victim is the most everyday person, one of millions".
The opera is being rehearsed by Vladimir Tyulpanov, Vladislav Sulimsky, Gennady Bezzubenkov, Alexander Morozov, Konstantin Pluzhnikov, Larisa Shevchenko, Zhanna Dombrovskaya, Vladimir Samsonov, Yevgeny Strashko, Edem Umerov and other soloists from the theatre and the Mariinsky Academy of Young Singers.
The libretto includes quotations from the following works by Gogol: Dead Souls, The Marriage, Taras Bulba, Old-World Landowners, Diary of a Madman and The Night Before Christmas.
The composer added piano, domras (Russian mandolins) and balalaikas to the orchestra for The Nose.
Yuri Alexandrov - Stage Director, Honoured Artist of Russia, recipient of the Golden Sophit, St Petersburg's highest theatre prize (1997), and recipient of the Golden Mask, Russia's highest national theatre prize (1998 and 2000). Trained as a pianist. In 1975, he graduated from the Leningrad State Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatoire faculty of musical theatre directing. Was invited to join the Kirov (Mariinsky) Theatre by Yuri Temirkanov as a stage director. He has staged over one hundred productions at opera houses throughout Russia, the CIS and abroad, and almost twenty productions for the St Petersburg Chamber Opera Company; he is also Artistic and General Director of this company, founded on his initiative in 1987. Recent productions at the Mariinsky Theatre include Le nozze di Figaro, Don Carlos, Semyon Kotko (awarded the Golden Mask for best opera production and best director in 2000) and Otello.
Zinovy Margolin - Set Designer. Recipient of the silver medal at the Prague Quadrennial - 1995 international exhibition of stage design and theatre architecture. Graduated from the Byelorussian Academy of Arts. Was engaged as the principal designer with the Byelorussian Youth Theatre and has designed productions for the Moscow Russian Army Theatre (The Winded Horse) and St Petersburg's Grand Drama Theatre (Les Caprices de Marianne, Californian Suite and The Dresser). From 1998 to 2000, was the principal designer with the St Petersburg Chamber Opera Company, where he designed productions including Die Weise von Liebe und Tod des Cornets Christoph Rilke (awarded the Golden Mask in 1998) and The Queen of Spades. Among his most recent works are Boris Godunov (National Academic Opera Theatre of the Republic of Byelorussia, 2001), the musical Nord-Ost (Moscow, 2002), Le Boulevard du Crime (Yevgeny Vakhtangov Theatre, 2003), Il barbiere di Siviglia (Rostov Musical Theatre, 2003) and Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (Rostov Musical Theatre, 2004).
As part of the XII International Festival of Arts The Stars of the White Nights, the Mariinsky Theatre will be performing Rimsky-Korsakov's opera The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maiden Fevronia in Tikhvin for the first time.
On 11 July the Mariinsky Opera Company will be performing Rimsky-Korsakov's opera The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maiden Fevronia under the baton of Valery Gergiev for the first time in Tikhvin, marking the return to Russia of the Tikhvin icon of Our Lady (Stage Director: Alexei Stepanyuk; Production Designer: Vladimir Firer). The lead roles will be performed by Mlada Khudolei, Yekaterina Semenchuk, Viktor Lutsyuk, Gennady Bezzubenkov, Nikolai Gassiev, Mikhail Petrenko, Yevgeny Nikitin and Edem Umerov. The opera is to be performed at the Tikhvin Monastery of the Assumption of Our Lady.
Stage Director Alexei Stepanyuk speaking about the performance: "The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh is referred to as Russian liturgy, and it is a perfect opera for the setting of the Monastery of the Assumption, with the action unfolding on the shore of the small lake in the inner courtyard. There will be a minimum of sets and props, accenting the genuine detail - such as the monastery walls, the monks' cells and the belfry. It is also of significance that the opera will be performed very close to the house where Rimsky-Korsakov spent his childhood."
The performance begins at 19.00.
The Mariinsky Theatre is continuing its tradition of moderately-priced concerts for students and opening the university season. On 25th October, the Mariinsky Theatre's soloists, orchestra and chorus will be giving a concert rendition of Saint-Saens' opera Samson et Dalila. Valery Gergiev, Honorary Doctor of the St Petersburg State University since 2001, will be conducting.
The first such concert with the Mariinsky Theatre's soloists and orchestra conducted by Valery Gergiev took place in the University's assembly hall on 6th December 2000. Larisa Diadkova, an indisputable star on the Russian and international opera scene, performed with the young soloists on the University's stage. Since then, the walls of one of Russia's oldest universities have resounded to symphony music (works by Tchaikovsky, Strauss and Rachmaninov), as well as concert performances of the great operas - Verdi's Macbeth, Purcell's Didon and Aeneas, Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos and Glinka's A Life for the Tsar.
The evening of 25th October will see a performance of Samson et Dalila. In early December, the theatre will be premiering a stage version of Saint-Saлns' work, and in the interim the university audience will have the chance to judge the concert performance. In August this year, Valery Gergiev conducted Samson et Dalila in Salzburg, and will now be conducting the work at St Petersburg University.
The main roles will be sung by Zlata Bulycheva, Alexei Steblyanko, Edem Umerov, Mikhail Petrenko and Alexei Tanovitsky among others.
The subject of Samson et Dalila came to Saint-Saens' attention in 1867. He proposed an oratorio following the traditions of Handel's monumental biblical works. However, the young poet Ferdinand Lemaire, with whom the composer wished to collaborate, convinced him that he should write an opera. Saint-Saens planned the basic structure of the work, and Lemaire wrote the libretto relatively quickly, using Chapter XVI from the Book of Judges. The composer immediately started work on the opera. Soon two acts of the opera were complete, but no theatre was interested in Samson et Dalila.
The disappointed Saint-Saens put the opera aside for a long time. He returned to it in 1873 in Algeria. Then the press reported that Saint-Saлns had written an oratorio called Dalila - the report proving false. This dampened the composer's spirits again, and work stopped once more. He finished the score for the opera in 1876.
Not a single theatre in all France wanted to stage Samson et Dalila. There was just a concert performance of Act I in Paris which left the audience apathetic. Liszt, Director of the opera house in Weimar, was interested in the French composer's work and decided to stage the opera. The premiere took place in Weimar in 1877, conducted by Liszt.
On 19th October as part of the Russian Year in Ukraine, Kiev's Ukraine National Palace hosted a concert by the Mariinsky Theatre Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. The programme, containing works by Sergei Prokofiev, Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Modest Musorgsky, was conducted by Maestro Valery Gergiev.
The day began for the Artistic and General Director of the Mariinsky Theatre with a press conference at Borispol Airport in Kiev, where the Maestro stressed the significance of the concert in strengthening the cultural ties between Russia and Ukraine and symbolising hope for their continuation and development.
In the evening, the four-thousand seat hall was filled not just with music-lovers but with professionals as well - representatives of the capital city's artistic intelligentsia, directors of theatres, the Conservatoire, music colleges and schools, and teachers and students from music schools. Among those attending were Yuri Bogutsky, Culture Minister of Ukraine, and Pyotr Chuprin, General Director of the Ukrainian National Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet. The political and financial elite were represented by Viktor Chernomyrdin, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Ukraine, and Sergei Tiripko, Head of the National Bank of Ukraine.
At the end of the first part of the concert, a presentation took place of The Subject of Fate, a book about the outstanding conductor Konstantin Simeonov. The book was in part prepared with the participation of Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Theatre and the Ukrainian National Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet; Konstantin Simeonov was Principal Conductor of both theatres in the 1960s and 70s. Natalia Simeonova, the conductor's daughter, was present.
The Ukrainian press noted the special atmosphere that reigned in the hall throughout the concert, while the audience applauded at the end of each part, many of them moved to tears during the performance of the Alexander Nevsky cantata.
The unofficial programme of the one-day tour by the Mariinsky Theatre to Kiev included an excursion for the musicians and chorus around the ancient city, led by staff of one of Kiev's finest museums - the Bulgakov Museum.
The Mariinsky Ballet Company's tour of the USA continues. The tour began in San Francisco on 7th October with a programme of Fokine's ballets (Chopiniana, Scheherazade and The Firebird), conducted by Valery Gergiev and Mikhail Agrest. The company was last in San Francisco in 1990. Among the soloists performing in 2003 in Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall were Ulyana Lopatkina, Diana Vishneva, Zhanna Ayupova, Irina Zhelonkina, Daria Pavlenko, Yana Serebriakova, Igor Zelensky, Danila Korsuntsev, Leonid Sarafanov and Anton Korsakov. Reviews in the San Francisco Chronicle, Mercury News and other newspapers commented on the world-class standard of the present-day company in both Fokine's ballets and Balanchine's Jewels, comparing Diana Vishneva in Rubies to Patricia McBride, who first danced the role.
On 15th October, the Mariinsky Ballet Company opened its series of performances in Los Angeles, with Costa Mesa, Detroit, Cleveland and Boston still to come.
On 13th October, the Mariinsky Theatre will be presenting Wagner's opera Lohengrin, depicting the Germany of the Middle Ages with its legends shrouded in mystery, traditions, ancient sagas and poems of minnesingers. The opera is based on the myth of Lohengrin, a knight who sails in a boat drawn by a swan. In Lohengrin, Wagner combined several subjects and images from Celtic tales, the stories of the Brothers Grimm and Wolfram von Eschenbach's poem Parsifal. The opera naturally unites elements of operatic tradition with Wagner's new aesthetics of 'musical drama'. Lohengrin was the first opera by Wagner to be staged at the Mariinsky Theatre in 1868. The Mariinsky Theatre has witnessed some of the finest interpreters of Lohengrin, including conductors Edward Napravnik and Konstantin Simeonov, and the brilliant performers Ivan Yershov and Leonid Sobinov in the main roles among other great artists.
The first performance of Lohengrin this season will be conducted by Thomas Sanderling.
The son of renowned German conductor Kurt Sanderling, who emigrated to the Soviet Union during the Nazi era, he grew up in Leningrad, where he graduated from the Music School of the Leningrad Conservatoire. After graduating from the Music Academy in East Berlin, Thomas Sanderling worked with the leading orchestras of East German opera houses. Dmitry Shostakovich entrusted Sanderling with the premieres of his 13th and 14th Symphonies in Germany, and Sanderling was also involved in recording Shostakovich's suite to verse by Michelangelo. The young conductor then worked as assistant to Leonard Bernstein and Herbert von Karajan. He has been a regular Guest Conductor with Berlin's Staatsoper, and has worked with the Vienna Staatsoper and the Hamburg Staatsoper. Together with the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, he recorded Mahler's 6th Symphony, which enjoyed huge success and won the Cannes Classical Award. His recordings of Brahms' symphonies with the London Philharmonic also won great critical acclaim. This is Thomas Sanderling's conducting debut at the Mariinsky Theatre.
The Mariinsky Theatre opens its 221st season on 10th October. The season will open with a performance of Tchaikovsky's opera Mazepa. In the space of one month, the theatre managed to repair the damage to the production after a fire in the set workshops. Mazepa, Ruslan and Lyudmila and Lohengrin, which all suffered as a result of the fire, will be staged over the first days of the 221st season. On 10th October, the opera will be performed by Mariinsky Theatre soloists, among them Tatiana Pavlovskaya (Maria), Marianna Tarasova (Lyubov), Sergei Alexashkin (Kochubei) and Valery Alexeyev (Mazepa). Valery Gergiev is flying in from New York, where he is conducting at the Metropolitan Opera.
The performance will demonstrate the artistic energy and potential with which the theatre is beginning the new season. The fire which occurred on 5th September on Pisarev Street did not affect the theatre's readiness to open the season. The solid sets that were damaged during the fire have been restored and the theatre's repertoire plans have not changed, with part of the company, as planned, leaving to tour the USA, Germany and Japan.
The opening of the season at the Mariinsky Theatre is notable for the myriad outstanding conductors present - Thomas Sanderling will conduct the opera Lohengrin on 13th October, Gianandrea Noseda will conduct Puccini's Trittico on 15th October and La Boheme on 17th, and Valery Gergiev will be conducting three of last season's premieres: The Enchantress on 21st, Siegfried on 23rd and Gotterdammerung on 24th October.
The theatre will stay true to its traditions in the 221st season and, aside from works already considered jewels in the repertoire, it will be staging opera and ballet premieres and running the now popular festivals - the IV International Ballet Festival MARIINSKY and the XII International Stars of the White Nights Festival of Arts.