A disc featuring works by Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky and Shchedrin as well as a recording of Prokofiev’s ballet Cinderella have been nominated for the International Classical Music Awards
A disc featuring works by Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky and Shchedrin as well as a recording of Prokofiev’s ballet Cinderella have been nominated for the International Classical Music Awards.
The Mariinsky label’s two most recent releases have been nominated for the prestigious International Classical Music Awards (ICMA). The recording of Stravinsky’s Capriccio and piano concerti by Rachmaninoff and Shchedrin, performed by Denis Matsuev and the Mariinsky Orchestra under maestro Gergiev, was nominated in the category “Concerti”. This album has already won lofty praise from the international classical music reviewers of BBC Radio 3’s CD Review and Pizzicato.com, and it also received the Clef du mois award from French internet portal ResMusica. Critics particularly noted the conductor’s magnificent reading of the score, the dazzling play of the Mariinsky Orchestra under Valery Gergiev and the virtuoso skill of soloist Denis Matsuev. The same category features another recording by the Mariinsky Orchestra under maestro Gergiev – Cello Concerti by Shostakovich with soloist Gautier Capuçon on the Erato label.
The release of Prokofiev’s ballet Cinderella with choreography by Alexei Ratmansky has been nominated in the category “Best DVD Production”. The performance, recorded at the Mariinsky Theatre in June 2013, sees the lead roles performed by Diana Vishneva (Cinderella) and Vladimir Shklyarov (the Prince); the Mariinsky Orchestra was conducted by Valery Gergiev. This disc has already been awarded the highest praise by such respected international publications as Audiophile Audition, The Telegraph, The Boston Globe and Critical Dance. The critics all agree that “this is a recording that any classical collection must have.”
This year the fifteen categories of the International Classical Music Awards include three hundred and sixty-four audio and video recordings by one hundred and fifteen recording companies throughout the world. The results of the competition and the recipients of the prestigious awards will be revealed on 20 January 2016. Two years ago the Mariinsky label’s recording of Prokofiev’s The Gambler won in the category “Best DVD Production”.
On 25 November Alexei Markov will make his debut as Escamillo in the opera Carmen at the new Mariinsky Theatre
The image of the handsome toreador, who always wins in the bullring and in love, is one of the most vivid and noble in the baritone repertoire. Moreover, it is a unique case in opera music where the baritone is the happy rival of the traditional loving hero – the tenor! It is Escamillo who wins the heart of the freedom-loving and inconstant gypsy girl; their duet in the final act is the only episode of the opera in which a man leads and Carmen follows.
Bizet constantly underscores the similarity of the two characters through musical means. In giving the role of the fateful tobacco-factory worker to a mezzo-soprano (while at that time the role of the heroine in an opera was generally given to a high-register voice) the composer also determined that her lover should be a baritone, and he wrote this role with extremely low tessitura. Not everyone was able to grasp his idea (for example, Shostakovich considered that this decision by Bizet was a mistake), and yet it is entirely justifiable – after all, Escamillo is not just a charismatic, handsome and powerfully masculine man, he is also a fateful hero, with José’s jealousy leading to the tragic denouement.
The closeness between Carmen and Escamillo, and in particular the position of the couple compared to the other characters in the opera, is set even before they appear on the stage. Bizet invented a brilliant technique that allowed the attention to be immediately drawn to this vital character of the plot. The entrance of the toreador in Act II (like Carmen’s entrance in Act I) is preceded by a large choral ensemble: the crowd eagerly awaits the victor of the corrida, welcoming and praising him (“Vivat, Torero! Vivat, Escamillo”). And the hero appears at the end of this chorus, moreover with the most effective vocal number – the famous couplets “Votre toast”.
The role of Escamillo, albeit not the largest in terms of the volume of musical material (apart from the couplets and the love duet with Carmen it includes the duel-like duet with José), it presents great demands for the performer; as well as perfect vocals the singer must have the right temperament and a dashing figure – a noble and courageous appearance, slim build and ideal posture. Alexei Markov’s heroic images have long and deservedly won wide acclaim at the world’s great opera houses. The authentic costumes of Spanish toreadors in Alexei Stepanyuk’s production will assist this leading Mariinsky Theatre baritone to reveal the secrets of Escamillo’s success.
On 20 November 2015 as part of celebrations marking two hundred and fifty years of the Bergakademie of Freiberg there came the historic revival of Carl Maria von Weber’s forgotten opera Das Stumme Waldmädchen at the Mittelsächsisches Theater in Freiberg. The only copy of this opera surviving today is retained in the Mariinsky Theatre Sheet Music Archives
On 20 November 2015 as part of celebrations marking two hundred and fifty years of the Bergakademie of Freiberg there came the historic revival of Carl Maria von Weber’s forgotten opera Das Stumme Waldmädchen at the Mittelsächsisches Theater in Freiberg, where it was first performed more than two hundred years ago.
The only copy of this early opera by the great German romantic composer surviving today is retained in the Mariinsky Theatre Sheet Music Archives (formerly the Central Music Library of the Board of the Imperial Theatres) in St Petersburg.
As a mark of the deep respect of the longstanding traditions of cultural collaboration between Russia and Germany the Mariinsky Theatre gave the Mittelsächsisches Theater of Freiberg music and production materials produced from Carl Maria von Weber’s historic original in order to return it to its native theatre.
The romantic comic opera Das Stumme Waldmädchen, written by von Weber when he was thirteen years of age, was the wunderkind composer’s first experience of theatre. Composed two years earlier, the score of Die Macht der Liebe und des Weins was lost in a fire, never having been performed. Von Weber’s next work, composed especially for the musical theatre in Freiberg, was more successful and on 24 November 1800 it was presented to a local audience to great acclaim before going on to be performed at theatres in Chemnitz, Prague and Vienna.
Das Stumme Waldmädchen came to St Petersburg thanks to the opera’s librettist – Karl Ritter von Steinsberg, an acclaimed actor, singer and director of the time who came to Russia’s imperial capital to work with a German theatre company.
The premiere took place in 1804 at the German (Kushelevsky) Theatre, where St Petersburg residents of the large and affluent German diaspora came to relax. That was very probably the first performance of the young composer’s music outside Germany and Austria, forming a kind of prelude to the Russian public’s enthusiastic welcome of von Weber’s timeless opera Der Freischütz.
Later, in 1810, having destroyed the original copy of his youthful opus, von Weber again turned to the libretto, writing for Frankfurt am Main the more developed romantic and heroic-comic opera Silvana, thus sentencing Das Stumme Waldmädchen to more than two centuries of oblivion.
The work first returned to the stage as recently as 2010. At the time, the concert performance of von Weber’s opera at the Concert Hall of the Mariinsky Theatre under the baton of Valery Gergiev was deemed a colossal discovery of the early work of the great musician Carl Maria von Weber by the modern music world.
On 20 November 2015, two hundred and fifteen years later, Das Stumme Waldmädchen returned to the same Mittelsächsisches Theater in Freiberg where it was first performed.
On 29 November the Concert Hall of the Mariinsky Theatre will host the second concert of the 50th subscription Guest Orchestras – the East at which the audience will have the opportunity to meet one of the greatest orchestras of Siberia – the Omsk Symphony Orchestra. In the forty-nine years since it was established the ensemble has won well-deserved acclaim in Russia and abroad, won 1st prize at the All-Russian Symphony Orchestra Competition and has produced a large number of recordings.
Since 2005 the orchestra has been directed by Dmitry Vasiliev. Under his direction the ensemble has performed premieres of works by Weinberg, Shakhidi, Kozulin, Podgaits, Bronner and Tsygankov.
On this occasion the orchestra from Omsk will be presenting St&nsbp;Petersburg audiences for the first time with Choreographic Symphony by Mieczysław Weinberg – a major 20th century composer, philosopher and artist who deeply considered destiny and the meaning of art and who furiously protested against the horrors of war. The concert will also feature Scriabin’s Second Symphony, which expresses the essential idea of the composer’s art – man’s resistance to evil.
To celebrate the birthday of Natalia Makarova, who began her artistic career at the Kirov Theatre (today the Mariinsky Theatre), the Mariinsky Theatre website has opened a photo exhibition featuring images of the ballerina in her greatest roles.
For audiences in many countries in the 1970s and 1980s Natalia Makarova’s dance was the embodiment of the great traditions of the Russian school of classical dance and, moreover, the embodiment of the Russian soul in ballet. Her Odette-Odile, Giselle, Kitri and Aurora were applauded by audiences at American Ballet Theatre, London’s Covent Garden and the Ballet de Marseilles. But Natalia Makarova’s dazzling career began in Leningrad. The emotive graduate of Leningrad’s Vaganova School of Dance, with her amazingly beautiful lines, was immediately “spotted” and for ten years at the Kirov Theatre Makarova danced many roles – she appeared as lead characters in classical productions and featured in ballets by Yakobson, Sergeyev, Belsky and Vinogradov. In 1970 she took the decision to remain in the West, and for the next twenty years the ballerina’s creative life was connected with the world’s great theatres and companies, drawing the admiration of audiences across the globe. However, Makarova made her last stage appearance at her home theatre – in 1991 she ended her dancing career at the Mariinsky Theatre.
The Mariinsky Ballet will congratulate Natalia Makarova on the occasion of her birthday in person. "The theatre has invited Natalia Romanovna to celebrate her birthday with us in Japan and she is coming while we will be in Tokyo. On 2 December we will celebrate Natalia Romanovna's birthday with one of her favourite productions – the ballet Romeo and Juliet performed by Kristina Shapran and Timur Askerov," said Acting Head of the ballet company Yuri Fateyev.
The creative exchange between the Mariinsky and Bolshoi Theatres continues. Last season Mariinsky Ballet soloists Timur Askerov and Andrei Yermakov appeared at the Bolshoi in The Legend of Love, while Mariinsky Theatre performances featured Yekaterina Krysanova and Ruslan Skvortsov. This season’s performances featuring the guest artists open with Don Quixote with Bolshoi Theatre principal Vyacheslav Lopatin in the lead role. The dancer has had the role of Basilio in his repertoire for over five years and Vyacheslav Lopatin has performed it not just with the Bolshoi Ballet but also with the Tokyo Ballet, and has also danced versions by Alexei Fadeyechev and Vladimir Vasiliev’s production. In St Petersburg Vyacheslav Lopatin will be learning his third version of Don Quixote.
Due to heightened security measures and careful inspections of personal items we advise you to arrive at the theatre in a timely manner.
The Board of the Mariinsky Theatre
Due to heightened security measures and careful inspections of personal items we advise you to arrive at the theatre in a timely manner.
The Board of the Mariinsky Theatre
The Mariinsky Theatre will commemorate its 155th anniversary with Glinka’s opera A Life for the Tsar, directed by Dmitry Chernyakov on 24 November
The Mariinsky Theatre will commemorate its 155th anniversary with Glinka’s opera A Life for the Tsar, directed by Dmitry Chernyakov on 24 November.
It is rightly considered that Russian classical music began with A Life for the Tsar. The opera’s history has always been associated with St Petersburg; its premiere took place in November 1836 at the Bolshoi (Stone) Theatre in St Petersburg, and a quarter of a century later on 2 October 1860 it was this opera that opened the first season at the new building called the Mariinsky Theatre as we know it today. Built on the site of the Circus Theatre which burnt down, it quickly became a centre of musical life in the imperial capital.
A Life for the Tsar both in imperial times and in the Soviet era had the role of the most important patriotic Russian opera. The idea of a man of the people, dying heroically for the sake of his country, was central to both versions of the libretto – the original, written for Glinka by Baron Yegor von Rozen, and the reworked version by Sergei Gorodetsky in 1939 when A Life for the Tsar was renamed Ivan Susanin.
Chernyakov’s production is one of three operas he has staged at the Mariinsky Theatre: in 2001 he made his debut with Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maiden Fevronia, while in 2005 he staged a production of Tristan und Isolde by Wagner. The new version of A Life for the Tsar (premiered in 2004) was received by the critics as one of the most important events in Russian musical theatre.
– How long have you been thinking about The Oprichnik?
– Several years ago I began listening to recordings of The Oprichnik – with the conductor Alexander Orlov and the All-Union Radio Chorus and Orchestra, recorded by Gennady Provatorov in 1980 featuring Tamara Milashkina and Vladimir Matorin. These were monumental, massive canvases with slow tempi, in the style of the Bolshoi Theatre; today they sound somewhat archaic. A deeper impression came with the recording of Gennady Rozhdestvensky in 2003, made after a performance at the theatre in Cagliari in Sardinia. There the plot unfolds more dynamically in a more concentrated form, because this opera relies on the conductor’s powerful presence. And I was amazed at the number of unusually beautiful instances in the work. The performers, it must be said, do not always share my enthusiasm, but I am prepared to speak about this score only in the most adulatory terms.
– What has been most challenging for you as a stage director with this production?
– The combination of the soloists and the crowd scenes, because it takes place at the Concert Hall where there is no curtain – you can see everything. But the age of Ivan the Terrible was the age of Shakespeare, and so minimal sets is no bad thing. In the centre we have a podium, four metres by six; the solo ensembles and the solos are all performed on it, it’s an analogue of front of stage. The crowd is situated beneath. The oprichniks are split into singers and dancers. The singers are on the balcony, while eight – villains dressed in black – perform the dance movements on the stage.
– As the author of a series of lectures at the Mariinsky-II entitled A Literary Hero in the “Distorting Mirror” of Opera, what changes in the play’s characters do you see in the composer’s opera?
– The most important thing is that Natasha’s features have changed – they have become her mother’s own. Faced with the nobleman Molchan Mitkov, Tchaikovsky has the same responsibility that Pushkin had with Salieri. In the opera he is transformed into a lowly and base merchant, whereas in the play he is a noble man who is prepared to sacrifice himself, saving the people who have been taken by the oprichniks, he has the courage to speak the truth to the Tsar’s face. With Tchaikovsky he’s just a pompous rival.
The third thing is that in Tchaikovsky’s opera there is no Tsar. But he needs no Ivan the Terrible. This is not an opera about a Tsar. This is why he gives Ivan the Terrible’s rejoinders to his vassal, Prince Vyazminsky. And then this character takes on a depth of his own: he is majestic like the Tsar, and yet he grovels. In depicting this character Tchaikovsky is more vivid than Lazhechnikov. With Tchaikovsky Ivan the Terrible becomes a “voice-over” persona, a figure of suppression.
– In the text of his drama Lazhechnikov makes several references to Karamzin’s History of the Russian State. How do you plan to portray the realities of that age to the public?
– We’re not creating a historical production. Power and its instruments of violence have always been immoral. There have been investigations at any time. You can understand why this opera was rarely performed in the Soviet era, the allusions would have been too strong and direct – to join the party or not.
– The word “oprichnik” is generally transliterated in foreign languages, like “sputnik”. How would you explain the moral dilemma of the protagonist to western audiences?
– The main problem of Andrei, and not just his and not just of the time of the oprichnina, is to define for himself which characteristic of serving power does not overstep the mark. To what degree can one collaborate with evil, is there any justification for conformity and pragmatism? If you have been drawn in involuntarily, but yourself are not drawn to evil then evil will eat you up. You have to be a villain, and the protagonist of The Oprichnik Andrei is anything but.
Speaking with Anna Petrova
From 19 November to 2 December as Principal Conductor of the Bavarian symphony ensemble, Valery Gergiev will conduct a series of concerts in Taiwan, South Korea and Japan. The focus of the tour will be a tribute to the Tchaikovsky musical anniversary and performances by outstanding artistes including both young talents as well as established masters of the performing arts
From 19 November to 2 December as Principal Conductor of the Bavarian symphony ensemble, Valery Gergiev will conduct a series of concerts in Taiwan, South Korea and Japan. The focus of the tour will be a tribute to the Tchaikovsky musical anniversary and performances by outstanding artistes including both young talents as well as established masters of the performing arts.
On 19 and 20 November there will be appearances at the National Concert Hall in Taipei. The programme of the first evening includes Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto and Sixth Symphony (Pathétique), while the playbill for the second evening features Brahms’ Violin Concerto and Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony (Romantische). Together with maestro Gergiev and the Munich Philharmonic, on both evenings there will be appearances by the young Taipei-born Chinese violinist Yu-Chien Tseng, recipient of the 2nd prize at the XV International Tchaikovsky Competition.
On 23 November Valery Gergiev and the Munich Philharmonic will present a programme at the Seoul Arts Center. That evening the programme features Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony and Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto (Emperor). The piano solo in the Beethoven concerto will be performed by the renowned South Korean virtuoso pianist Kun-Woo Paik.
The next six performances by maestro Gergiev and the Munich Philharmonic will take place in Japan; four of them will feature the Japanese pianist Nobuyuki Tsujii. On 25 November at the Osaka Festival Hall and on 27 November in Sendai there will be performances of the Pathétique symphony and the Fifth Piano Concerto by Beethoven.
On 26 November in Nagoya at the Concert Hall of the Aichi Prefectural Art The ater there will be a performance of Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony and Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto.
On 29 November and 1 and 2 December Valery Gergiev and the Bavarian orchestra will appear at Suntory Hall in Tokyo. The programme of the first evening includes the overture Egmont and Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto as well as Shostakovich’s Ninth Symphony.
The playbill for the second evening includes Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony and Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto.
At the third and final concert there will be music from the ballet Romeo and Juliet by Prokofiev, Richard Strauss’ symphonic poem Don Juan and Bruckner’s symphony Romantische.