Anna Netrebko, Alexei Markov, Ilya Bannik, Alexei Tanovitsky and Mikhail Petrenko will be performing the lead roles in a new Metropolitan Opera production conducted by maestro Gergiev.
Today, 29 January, sees the start of a series of performances of a new Metropolitan Opera production staged together with Poland’s Teatr Wielki–Opera Narodowa featuring two one-act operas performed the same evening – Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta and Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle (directed by Mariusz Treliński). There will be a total of seven performances, the last to take place on 21 February. The premiere was scheduled to take place on 26 January, though that day most concert organisations in New York were forced to cancel all events due to extreme weather conditions resulting in transport difficulties on the roads of America’s largest city.
The lead roles in the new production will be performed by top Mariinsky Opera soloists, whose talents have ensured them deserved acclaim at the world’s great music venues and successful international careers. The first five performances will be conducted by Valery Gergiev with a further two to be conducted by the Mariinsky Theatre’s Pavel Smelkov.
The title role in the opera Iolanta will be sung by soprano Anna Netrebko, who has frequently spoken of her fondness for this role and her desire to promote Tchaikovsky’s last opera throughout the world, as it is much less known than the composer’s Eugene Onegin or The Queen of Spades. St Petersburg music-lovers are familiar with this singer’s vocals – Anna Netrebko has performed the role of Iolanta several times in the same production by Mariusz Treliński at the Mariinsky Theatre in addition to a 2D video recording of the opera produced by the Mariinsky.
She will be partnered by baritone Alexei Markov as Robert, Duke of Burgundy – Iolanta’s fiancé, who gallantly releases her to Count Vaudémont who is in love with her and subsequently finds happiness with his own beloved – the “incomparable Matilda”. The role of Robert is one of the “calling cards” in Alexei Markov’s repertoire – the singer has performed this role on numerous occasions to great acclaim at the world’s most prestigious music venues, while in 2009 he was awarded the Golden Sofit, St Petersburg’s highest theatre award, in the category “Best male role in musical theatre”.
The role of the lead character in the second part of the diptych will be performed by Mikhail Petrenko, who will appear before New York audiences as Duke Bluebeard in Bartók’s only innovative opera. It should be noted that this role is characterised by its high level of complexity due to the chromatic vocal melodics with their strong influence from the speech rhythm of the Hungarian language. In this opera Mikhail Petrenko will be partnered by renowned German soprano Nadja Michael as Judith.
The production of the opera Iolanta continues the project Russian Seasons at the Met which began last season, key events including premieres of Eugene Onegin, The Nose and Prince Igor conducted by maestro Gergiev and featuring top Mariinsky Opera soloists in the lead roles.
British critics voted for the Mariinsky Theatre soloist in the category "Outstanding Male Performance".
Xander Parish enchanted British professional critics writing about ballet and dance with his performance of the role of Apollo in the eponymous ballet by George Balanchine during the Mariinsky Theatre’s tour to London in August. Trained at the Royal Ballet School in Great Britain, Xander Parish became the first ever British dancer to join the Mariinsky Ballet. Over the five years he has lived and worked in St Petersburg, the dancer has performed numerous roles – in both classical ballets and in 20th century productions. The young performer’s artistic potential has already brought him numerous prizes, now joined by the prestigious British Critics’ Circle award.
The IX International Rimsky-Korsakov Young Opera Singers’ Competition will be held in Tikhvin, the great Russian composer’s native town. This year, for the first time the competition will have two focal points – chamber music and opera performance
The IX International Rimsky-Korsakov Young Opera Singers’ Competition will be held in Tikhvin, the great Russian composer’s native town. This time the competition – back following a six-year interval – will take place as part of an International Rimsky-Korsakov Opera Festival that began in October 2014 to mark one hundred and seventy years since the composer’s birth. This year, for the first time the competition will have two focal points – chamber music and opera performance.
Fifteen performers have been chosen for the chamber music section and forty-four competitors for opera from towns and cities throughout Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Armenia and China.
The second round of the competition takes place on 28 and 29 January, while 31 January will see the final round and a gala concert of prize-winners.
The competition, founded in 1994, was dedicated by its organisers to the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Nikolai Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov’s birth in recognition of his immense contribution to the development of St Petersburg’s professional music school and the vast influence his legacy has had and continues to exert on all subsequent professional musicians and music-lovers. The competition was run every two years by the Mariinsky Theatre and was one of the most important vocal competitions in Russia. The organisers aim to discover new and talented performers and to promote Russian opera and chamber music. In the course of the competition’s existence numerous talented singers have been prize-winners, among them Anna Netrebko, Irina Dzhioeva, Hibla Gerzmava, Olga Trifonova, Ildar Abdrazakov, Vasily Gerello and Daniil Shtoda. For many of these prize-winners, the competition has opened the doors to the world of opera. The jury has invariably been headed by such outstanding singers as Ileana Cotrubas, Elena Obraztsova, Makvala Kasrashvili, Nikolai Okhotnikov and Vladimir Atlantov.
This year the jury is to be headed by Larisa Gergieva (People’s Artist of Russia, Ukraine, the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania and the Republic of South Ossetia, Honoured Artist of Poland and Artistic Director of the Mariinsky Academy of Young Opera Singers and the National Opera and Ballet Theatre of Vladikavkaz). Sitting on the jury are Askar Abdrazakov (Moscow, Russia; People’s Artist of the Republic of Bashkortostan), Grayr Khanedanian (St Petersburg, Russia; People’s Artist of the Uzbek SSR and Professor at the St Petersburg State Conservatoire), Galina Gorchakova (St Petersburg, Russia; Honoured Artist of Russia and People’s Artist of the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania), Larisa Jackson (Houston, USA; Artistic and General Director of the Orfeo international festival and competition, founder of the Schlern International Music Festival in Italy and Professor at the University of Houston, the State University of New York at Purchase and the University of Columbia), Zhun Shi Dze (Beijing, China; Senior Lecturer at the Beijing Conservatoire and Head of the Classical Vocals Department of the College of the Beijing Conservatoire), Susanna Martirosyan (Yerevan, Armenia; Honoured Artist of the Republic of Armenia, Professor and Head of the Classical Vocals Department of the Yerevan State Comitas Conservatoire) and Avaz Radjabov (Tashkent, Uzbekistan; People’s Artist of Uzbekistan, Professor at the Tashkent Conservatoire and soloist of the State Academic Navoi Grand Theatre).
From 27 January to 1 February the Mariinsky Ballet will be appearing at the Kennedy Center in Washington.
For thirteen years the Mariinsky Theatre has staged annual performances at the renowned arts venue in Washington that bears the name of US President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, a famed admirer and patron of the arts who initiated the Center’s construction. The programme for the current visit to the Kennedy Center by the St Petersburg performers comprises one-act ballets. The St Petersburg ballet company together with the orchestra of the Kennedy Center Opera House conducted by Gavriel Heine will be presenting the ballet Le Sacre du printemps staged by Millicent Hodson after motifs of the production by Vaslav Nijinsky, Michel Fokine’s Le Spectre de la rose and The Dying Swan and “Paquita” Grand Pas with choreography by Marius Petipa. In Le Sacre du printemps the role of the Chosen One will be danced by Daria Pavlenko (27, 29 and 31 January (matinee) and 1 February) and Anastasia Petushkova (28, 30 and 31 January (evening)). The Girl in Fokine’s Le Spectre de la rose will be danced by Kristina Shapran (27, 29 and 30 January and 1 February) and Yana Selina (28 and 31 January), while the legendary role of the Ghost of the Rose – created by Vaslav Nijinsky – will be performed by Vladimir Shklyarov (27 January), Kimin Kim (28, 30 and 31 January (evening)), Filipp Stepin (29 January and 1 February) and Ernest Latypov (31 January (matinee)). Fokine’s renowned ballet The Dying Swan will feature Ulyana Lopatkina (27 January), Kristina Shapran (28 and 31 January (matinee)), Oxana Skorik (29 and 31 January (evening)) and Yekaterina Kondaurova (30 January and 1 February). In “Paquita” Grand Pas, American audiences will see the lead roles performed by Ulyana Lopatkina and Yevgeny Ivanchenko (27 January), Yekaterina Kondaurova and Andrei Yermakov (28 and 31 January (matinee)), Anastasia Matvienko and Timur Askerov (29 and 31 January (evening)) and Oxana Skorik and Yevgeny Ivanchenko (30 January and 1 February).
The Mariinsky Orchestra under Valery Gergiev will be presenting a series of concerts of Russian music at major venues in the USA
The Mariinsky Orchestra under Valery Gergiev will be presenting a series of concerts of Russian music at major venues in the USA.
The major USA tour by the Mariinsky Theatre, which has already seen performances of ballets and the opera The Enchanted Wanderer at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York and the Kennedy Center in Washington, continues with performances by the Mariinsky Orchestra under maestro Gergiev. From 24 January to 6 February Valery Gergiev and musicians of the Mariinsky Orchestra will be visiting nine American cities with programmes entirely consisting of masterpieces of Russian classical music of the 19th and 20th centuries – symphony works by Modest Musorgsky, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Sergei Prokofiev, Dmitry Shostakovich and Rodion Shchedrin.
“Like my great predecessor Sergei Diaghilev I consider it an incredibly important mission to promote Russian music throughout the world – not just abroad but in Russia’s regions as well. These will be true Russian Seasons. Over the past years and in the coming three or four years we have planned a major series of Russian programmes – operas and symphony music – at top music venues in America. But I don’t want to speak of that in terms of the success of the Mariinsky Theatre, as our success – I consider it the success of the great Russian tradition and such great Russian composers as Rachmaninoff and Stravinsky – acclaimed in America as their own – and Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich,” maestro Gergiev said of the tour’s aim. In New York alone, Mariinsky Theatre performers and Valery Gergiev opened last season at the Metropolitan Opera with Russian operas and at Carnegie Hall with concerts of Russian music; moreover, the Mariinsky Orchestra under maestro Gergiev undertakes a traditional annual tour of American cities with programmes of Russian symphony music.
The Mariinsky Orchestra’s performances open with concerts in Ann Arbor, one of America’s most important university towns. On 24 and 25 January the Hill Auditorium there will be hosting performances of Shostakovich’s Fourth Symphony, Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto (soloist – Behzod Abduraimov), Musorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition orchestrated by Ravel, Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto with piano soloist Denis Matsuev and Shchedrin’s First Orchestral Concerto (Mischievous Folk Ditties).
The next two programmes will be presented on 27 and 28 January at Carnegie Hall in New York. These appearances will be key events in the Mariinsky Orchestra’s tour of the USA. The concert on 28 January, which features Shchedrin’s First Orchestral Concerto (Mischievous Folk Ditties), Tchaikovsky’s Second Piano Concerto and Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony will be broadcast on-line by Medici TV.
The broadcast begins at 20:00 EST (GMT-5:00) on 28 January and may be accessed via the link vk.cc/3obPs0.
Regardless of its twenty-year-long association with Carnegie Hall, this will be the Mariinsky Theatre’s first live broadcast of a concert on a major specialist channel.
On 29 January the Mariinsky Orchestra will be appearing at the historic concert hall in Troy which was built in 1875 and is famed for its magnificent acoustics. The programme includes Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet fantasy-overture, a suite from Prokofiev’s ballet Romeo and Juliet and Sergei Rachmaninoff’s rarely performed First Symphony.
Having regularly worked with the Mariinsky Orchestra, Ignat Solzhenitsyn will be taking to the conductor’s stand as that evening maestro Gergiev will be at the Metropolitan Opera to conduct one of the first performances of a new production of Iolanta with Anna Netrebko in the title role and leading Mariinsky Opera soloists Alexei Markov as Robert and Alexei Tanovitski (King René) and Bluebeard’s Castle with Mikhail Petrenko as Duke Bluebeard.
On 30 January there will be a key concert by the Mariinsky Orchestra conducted by Valery Gergiev at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown to mark the venue’s twentieth anniversary. Maestro Gergiev first visited this venue in early 1994 when it was still being built, even then envisaging the unique acoustic qualities that the new hall would have. During that visit he promised to return with his orchestra and he kept his word: just a few months later the Mariinsky Orchestra under the baton of Valery Gergiev performed at the opening of this music complex, built using donations. Today maestro Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra are honoured guests and participants of the anniversary celebrations.
The concert programme includes Ravel’s orchestration of Musorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, Tchaikovsky’s Second Piano Concerto with soloist Denis Matsuev and Shchedrin’s First Orchestral Concerto (Mischievous Folk Ditties).
The Mariinsky Orchestra then departs for the southern states. On 31 January and 1 February the orchestra’s musicians under Valery Gergiev will be performing at the California Performing Arts in Chapel Hill. The programmes for these evenings include Shostakovich’s Eighth Symphony and Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto with Behzod Abduraimov, Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony and Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto with Denis Matsuev.
The Mariinsky Orchestra’s tour will conclude with performances in four cities in Florida.
On 3 February at the Peabody Auditorium in Daytona Beach there will be a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet fantasy-overture, a suite from Prokofiev’s ballet Romeo and Juliet and Sergei Rachmaninoff’s First Symphony. Ignat Solzhenitsyn will be conducting.
On 4 February at West Palm Beach the Mariinsky Orchestra under maestro Gergiev will present a programme including Shostakovich’s Eighth Symphony and Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto with soloist Behzod Abduraimov.
On 5 February at Hayes Hall in Naples the Mariinsky Orchestra under Valery Gergiev will be performing Ravel’s orchestration of Musorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, Tchaikovsky’s Second Piano Concerto with soloist Denis Matsuev and Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony.
The playbill for the closing concert on 6 February in Miami includes Ravel’s orchestration of Musorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, Tchaikovsky’s Second Piano Concerto with soloist Denis Matsuev and Shchedrin’s First Orchestral Concerto (Mischievous Folk Ditties).
From 24 January to 6 February Valery Gergiev will be conducting the Mariinsky Orchestra in a series of concerts of Russian music at major venues in the USA. One key event of the tour comes with the Mariinsky Orchestra’s performances on 27 and 28 January at the fabled Carnegie Hall – one of the world’s most prestigious concert venues.
The concert on 28 January – featuring Shchedrin’s First Orchestral Concerto (Mischievous Folk Ditties), Tchaikovsky’s Second Piano Concerto with Denis Matsuev as a soloist and Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony– will be broadcast live by Medici TV.
The broadcast begins at 20:00 EST (GMT-5:00).
Despite the twenty-year-long period of collaboration between the Mariinsky Theatre and Carnegie Hall, this will be the first live broadcast of a concert on a major arts channel.
On 25 January the performance of Carmen will be dedicated to the memory of Elena Obraztsova
On 25 January the performance of Carmen will be dedicated to the memory of Elena Obraztsova
The great singer Elena Obraztsova was feted as “the finest Carmen of the 20th century”. She was thus hailed as far back as 1975 in Spain. Obraztsova performed this role at theatres in Prague, Budapest, Belgrade, Marseilles, Vienna, Madrid and New York as well as – of course – Moscow and St Petersburg. Speaking of the role, the singer herself said that “My Carmen was born in March 1972 in the Canary Islands in Spain, at the Teatro Pérez Galdós. I never thought I’d sing Carmen, I didn’t see it as a role for me. When I first appeared in the role I really felt it to be a debut. I stopped thinking of myself as a performer, it was as if Carmen’s own soul had entered me. And when, in the final scene, I dropped down after being stabbed by José, I suddenly felt insanely sorry for myself: why should I, such a young woman, have to die? Then, as if half in a dream, I began to hear the shouts and applause of the audience. And that brought me back to reality.”
One of Elena Obraztsova’s final appearances in the role at the Mariinsky Theatre took place in 1997. The performance was conducted by Valery Gergiev and she was partnered by Anna Netrebko as Micaëla and Viktor Lutsyuk as José.
“The Mariinsky’s presentation of The Enchanted Wanderer proved to be one of the more interesting operas in New York so far this season.” American press comments on a performance of Shchedrin’s opera during a tour by the Mariinsky Theatre under the baton of Valery Gergiev to New York
The return of The Enchanted Wanderer to New York did not occur by chance. It is known that Rodion Shchedrin composed the opera following a commission from the renowned American conductor, violinist and composer Lorin Maazel, to whom it is dedicated. Its premiere by the New York Philharmonic under the baton of maestro Maazel took place in 2002 at Avery Fisher Hall. Now, thirteen years later, The Enchanted Wanderer has returned to the USA to be performed by a Russian orchestra in the only extant production ever to be staged (by the Mariinsky Theatre with stage director Alexei Stepanyuk). It comes as no surprise that the performance drew the attention of a veritable army of music critics from various publications and internet portals.
“This was a splendid performance. Much credit goes to Oleg Sychov whose voice has the breadth and depth of a true Russian bass, and he sang and acted with deep feeling and commitment. Kristina Kapustinskaya was also impressive in the demanding role of Grusha, encapsulating piteous pleas and dramatic outbursts. The multi-cast Andrei Popov performed admirably. The chorus evoked and maintained an atmosphere of mysticism and religious conviction. Gergiev maintained a perfect balance between singers and players.” (Lewis M. Smoley, www.classicalsource.com)
Columnist Stephen Raskauskas (www.broadwayworld.com) referred to the Mariinsky Theatre’s production of The Enchanted Wanderer as “one of the more interesting operas in New York so far this season.” He focusses on “Shchedrin’s fascinating score” in which the “music for the solo voices was excellently composed, skillful orchestrations contribute significantly to the drama.” According to the critic, “Alexei Stepanyuk’s minimalist staging did well enough to match Shchedrin’s score. Alexander Orlov’s sets were simple and elegant. Irina Cherednikova’s costumes perfectly complemented Orlov’s sets.” He also noted Oleg Sychov’s “admirable performance” as Ivan Flyagin and Kristina Kapustinskaya’s “impressive” interpretation of the role of Grusha the gypsy, while stating that the “most captivating performer, however, was tenor Andrei Popov, the only performer who – with the combination of his excellent musicianship and stage presence – was able to transport me to the strange world of The Enchanted Wanderer.”
According to Paul Pelkonen (www.super-conductor.blogspot.ru), “The thrilling vocal discovery of the night was mezzo Kristina Kapustinskaya who delivered a magnetic performance. With her flashing eyes and rich, potent instrument, Ms. Kapustinskaya is a potential star of the future.” The critic also spoke about the work of the Mariinsky Chorus which “provided much of the vocal interest in this score.”
Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim (The New York Times) wrote that “Mr. Shchedrin is an orchestrator of considerable skill with an eye for color, and the performance Mr. Gergiev drew from the wonderful Mariinsky Orchestra and Chorus held plenty of individual moments of beauty. The fine cast was led by the rich-voiced bass Oleg Sychov and included the versatile high tenor Andrei Popov in five roles and the jewel-toned mezzo Kristina Kapustinskaya.”
Columnist Eric Simpson (New York Classical Review) also commented on the lofty performance levels of the Mariinsky Orchestra: “The Mariinsky Orchestra under Valery Gergiev has been an ensemble of massive power, achieving searing intensity in its New York appearances, particularly when playing Russian repertoire.”
In characterising the subtlety of the combination of the composer’s idea with the stage director’s embodiment of The Enchanted Wanderer, reviewer Jacob Slattery (www.bachtrack.com) commented that “The flow of the action on stage repeatedly outlined a compounded domino effect, and the architecture for this pattern is clearly built into Shchedrin’s score.” The critic went on to say that “Gergiev has a knack for both selecting originative programming and presenting talented singers in the international spotlight,” fully and convincingly demonstrated by this production and the cast in the Mariinsky’s Enchanted Wanderer.
The Mariinsky Theatre’s tour to New York continues. American critics have given their reviews of the first ballets performed by the St Petersburg dancers.
The ballet part of the tour opened with a series of performances of Swan Lake. “The unparalleled precision of the Mariinsky Ballet’s corps in Swan Lake was rightfully rewarded with the evening’s most thunderous applause. Every tilt of the head, every flick of the wrist, every pose, every hop in arabesque was performed in unison and with perfect musicality,” commented the internet portal broadwayworld.com.
The newspaper The New York Times praised “the exquisitely medieval look of this staging.” “The harmonious colors and vivid period detail of the costumes and sets are lessons from which every other Swan Lake in the world today should learn,” wrote the columnist who went on to say that “Many beauties were evident throughout.” The columnist also noted that “The panache of the ballroom scene’s national dances has real charm”, “The distinction of Mariinsky upper-body carriage and épaulement (...) is delectable” and that “the elegance of legs and feet” and “The sheer drill of the large ensembles is superlative.”
At the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Swan Lake was succeeded by Cinderella. One American critic, familiar with several productions by Alexei Ratmansky, commented that “The whole production shows us that he appreciates how Prokofiev’s ballet is poised between touching romance and biting sarcasm” (The New York Times). Of the performers, the reviewer for Dance Magazine was enchanted by Diana Vishneva in the role of Cinderella: “This ballerina can fill up the stage with a single gesture... Her special quality of tenderness, seen in the tilt of the head or a rolling of the hands, lasts the whole ballet... The illusion was that she was dancing steps she had made up herself. Vishneva fully realized Ratmansky’s vision of a gentle, neglected girl who finds herself through meeting her life partner.”
The writer for the portal broadwayworld.com noted “the delicate sensuality” of the duet of Anastasia Matvienko and Alexander Sergeyev who appeared in the lead roles in the second performance of Cinderella.
On 1 and 6 June the Mariinsky Theatre soloist will be performing the role of Solor in the ballet La Bayadère at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
The participation of Mariinsky Theatre stars in ABT’s spring season is becoming a tradition – last year there were debuts at the renowned Metropolitan Opera by guest artists Viktoria Tereshkina and Vladimir Shklyarov. This year Kimin Kim will be appearing with American Ballet Theatre in Natalia Makarova’s production of La Bayadère. He will be partnered by Polina Semionova as Nikia and Gillian Murphy as Gamzatti.