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28.12.2021

January Operas

Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Verdi, and Puccini are great composers whose works are at the heart of world opera repertoire -which is why classical music fans wont want to miss our opera performances this January. In five outstanding works of musical genius we give you the reason why opera is so dearly loved all over the world.

The Tchaikovsky operas in our January programme are Iolanta and Eugene Onegin. As you may know, two versions of Iolanta are performed in our theatre. On 5 January, we will present the traditional production that follows the usual conventions of a classic, costumed performance, in which every aspect of time and setting prescribed in the libretto is strictly adhered to. A young princess, the daughter of King René, has been blind from birth but is unaware of her disability. Her entourage is under strict orders not to reveal to her that most people can see. When the wayward knight Vaudémont turns up at the castle, he brings confusion to the world she knows. Our soloist Valentina Fedeneva, who recently won the Onegin National Opera Award, takes on the role of Iolanta; Vaudémont will be sung by Sergey Kuzmin; and our outstanding veteran, Peoples Artist of Russia Nikolay Kopylov, who remains in excellent vocal form, will appear in the role of the Moorish physician Ibn-Hakia.

The Mikhailovsky Theatre is putting on Eugene Onegin in honour of Russian Students Day, now officially recognized as Tatianas Day. The performance will take place on 26 January, the day after the holiday. There is a certain amount of symbolism in this choice: both because the heroine of Tchaikovskys opera is named Tatiana, and also because the first production of Eugene Onegin was famously performed by students of the Moscow Conservatory. Poetry, humanity, and simplicity of plot  these are the main qualities Tchaikovsky saw in this work, inspired by Pushkins novel in verse. Our production, directed by Andriy Zholdak, was once considered shockingly avant-garde. In its ten years on the stage, however, public perception has shifted and it has acquired the status of a modern classic. The director employs a technique described as turning white into black, which involves gradually changing the colour of the scenery, props, costumes, and even make-up. During the productions decade in existence, this approach has become widespread in theatrical practice. Indeed, the whole opera has been deconstructed into excerpts. This testifies, of course, to its powerful influence on modern opera direction and the theatrical process in general.

Mozart. The Marriage of Figaro, coming to our stage on 29 January, is also somewhat student-like in spirit. Director Vyacheslav Starodubtsev has taken a very creative approach to Mozarts opera, based on the Beaumarchais comedy. The characters are no strangers to Orientalism and the so-called chinoiserie style, an offshoot of rococo dominated by techniques and stories from the artistic traditions of medieval China. The habits and mannerisms of the characters in Mozarts opera are markedly influenced by Chinese (and Japanese) elements, and Chinese drums, goldfish, and samurai swords find their way into this web of intrigue. This is an excellent opportunity to see the charming and spontaneous Alexander Shakhov in the role of Count Almaviva and the talented Anastasia Barun as the Countess, and to enjoy the wonderful vocals of Svetlana Moskalenko as Susanna.

The perennial Italian classics are represented by two great operas  La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi on 14 January and Giacomo Puccinis Tosca on 21 January. Worldwide, the popularity of these operas is unchallenged by any other. Even Carmen lags far behind in terms of how often it is performed. Never a day goes by without La Traviata or Tosca being performed in an opera house somewhere in the world. But although these two operas are easily comparable in terms of their musical merits, when it comes to style and tone they are complete opposites. La Traviata is an intimate drama, a story about the characters inner lives, in which their feelings and actions are influenced by their own ideas about morality and, to a lesser extent, social norms, but are entirely unaffected by global upheavals. In Tosca, on the other hand, the action takes place against a very tense political backdrop, in an atmosphere of intrigue and repression, and events hurtle like a freight train towards an unpredictable denouement. Neither intense conflict nor the dramatic nature of the characters experiences can detract from the overriding message that love triumphs even in the face of death.

Younger theatregoers can use their Pushkin Card when purchasing tickets for our opera performances.
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