Two Verdi premieres at the Mariinsky Theatre

To conclude 2013, which saw celebrations marking two centuries since the birth of Verdi, the Mariinsky Theatre will be presenting premieres of his operas Otello (22 and 29 December) and Il trovatore (27 and 31 December) as well as its current repertoire of Verdi’s operas with top soloists from the company and guest artists in the lead roles.

On 22 and 29 December and 7 January the Mariinsky II will host premiere performances of a new production of Giuseppe Verdi’s penultimate opera Otello. Specially for this new theatre, stage director Vasily Barkhatov and designer Zinovy Margolin have created a new stage version of the 2007 production.
Otello was first performed at the Mariinsky Theatre in 1887 with Nikolai Figner in the title role, just a few months after the world premiere of the opera at the Teatro alla Scala. Over the course of the 20th century the theatre staged five new productions of this opera, each time with wonderful performers in the title role: Ivan Yershov (1929), Nikolai Pechkovsky (1938), Vladimir Galuzin (1991 and 2007) and Alexei Steblianko (1996). It was as Otello that Russian audiences first saw Plácido Domingo in the Mariinsky Theatre’s production in 1992. The title role in the premiere of the 2013 production will be performed by the acclaimed lyric dramatic tenor Aleksandrs Antonenko, who made his debut as Otello at the Salzburg Festival. Alexei Markov will make his debut as Iago on 22 December.
Stage director Vasily Barkhatov sees everyday people in Shakespeare’s characters: “The main thing is that it is about normal people. Between Otello and Desdemona what is important is the difference in their cultures, not the difference in the colour of their skin or their age. Otello is a man of his own makeup, with his own life’s principles, somewhat wild. And Desdemona is a completely European woman with a liberal European education, much more free.
“Iago knows neither devotion nor hatred. He’s just a man of the system. A grey man who has a certain business plan for the near future. The kind of man who says ‘It’s nothing personal, it’s just business.’ He sees his goal and goes for it whatever the cost. He makes no superfluous moves. It’s just that his sequence of actions has to lead to a specific result.”

The December performances will be conducted by Valery Gergiev.
Also working on the premiere are: Maria Danilova (Costume Designer), Gleb Filshtinsky (Lighting Designer), Andrei Petrenko (Principal Chorus Master) and Alla Brosterman (Musical Preparation). The roles are being rehearsed by Oxana Shilova and Asmik Grigorian (Desdemona), Khachatur Badalyan, Oleg Balashov and Alexander Trofimov (Cassio), Alexei Markov and Alexander Krasnov (Iago) and Sergei Aleksashkin, Yuri Vorobiev and Vladimir Feliauer (Lodovico).

During the last week of the year, on 27 and 31 December, the Mariinsky II will host a premiere of a new production of one of Verdi’s most beloved operas (among audiences and casts alike) – Il trovatore. The stage fate of this opera by Verdi at the Mariinsky Theatre is remarkable for the names connected with it – stage director Sergei Radlov, designers Valentina Khodasevich and the conductor Vladimir Dranishnikov (1933 production) and the singers Galina Kovaleva (Leonora) and Irina Bogacheva (Azucena) who appeared in the 1971 premiere. Anna Netrebko will appear as Leonora in the Mariinsky Theatre premiere opposite Ekaterina Semenchuk as Azucena. On 31 December the role of Leonora will be performed by Tatiana Serjan.
Also working on the 2013 premiere as the stage director and set and costume designer is Pier Luigi Pizzi, one of the most respected opera directors in Italy. Pizzi has worked with numerous theatres throughout the world. He made his debut as a director in 1977 at the Teatro Regio in Turin with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni. The Opéra Bastille opened its doors to the public with Pizzi’s production of Berlioz’ Les Troyens in 1990. The stage director has mounted numerous productions for the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro as well as for the Teatro alla Scala. In his work, Pizzi focuses on historical details, retaining his belief in the principle of  “culture, severity and the imagination” as well as the conviction that stage directing should not overwhelm the music.
Pizzi has worked on the opera Il trovatore several times before: Il trovatore is an icon of Verdian melodrama, a starting point for many composers of the 19thcentury. The perfection of the opera’s musical form, its engaging subject, the vivid choral fragments and the incredible beauty of the melodies allow Verdi to convey human passions to as great a degree as possible: love, hate, jealousy, revenge, death...
“Returning to this work which so many people love and doing it at a mature age, I am trying to focus on the psychology of the characters and the tale itself, which is filled with dramatic twists and turns.
“This opera arouses strong feelings in me, and I would like to convey this noble emotion to the audience.”

The Musical Director and Conductor of the production is Valery Gergiev. Also working on the production are: Massimo Pizzi Gasparon (Co-Production Designer), Vincenzo Raponi (Lighting Designer), Emil Faski (Choreographer), Marina Mishuk (Musical Preparation), Pavel Teplov (Chorus Master) and Maria Nikitina (Italian language coach). The roles are being rehearsed by Olga Savova, Zlata Bulycheva and Nadezhda Serdyuk (Azucena), Roman Burdenko, Vladislav Sulimsky and Alexander Gergalov (the Conte di Luna) and Hovhannes Ayvazyan, Akhmed Agadi and Avgust Amonov (Manrico).

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