Register Your Cart

News

05.03.2019

Too good for a flawed world

Andriy Zholdaks production of Iolanta is a departure from the ordinary classical canon. True to his own rule, the director has made no comment on his concept It is all the more interesting, then, to hear the opinions of the two performers of the title role, who are responsible for conveying Zholdaks intentions. Maria Litke and Tatiana Ryaguzova threw themselves into preparing for the role over weeks of rehearsals before the November premiere. And even though the excitement and emotion of the premiere have not yet quite faded away, the singers agreed to discuss their interpretation of the character and the production as a whole. The next performance of the new Iolanta will take place on 19 March.

Tatiana Ryaguzova

"Andriy Zholdak never tells you anything in rehearsals. You cant just go up to him and ask, Whats she supposed to be conveying here? He collaborates with the performers on an intuitive level; you either feel it or you dont. He just chooses a direction and moves off in it, and the performer has to figure out what that direction is. At first, I kept involuntarily thinking back to our work on Onegin and drawing parallels. I thought the two productions would be similar  same director, same style  but gradually I came to see that they are very different, even though theyre both very subtle, beautiful and bright.

Stylistically, Iolanta is quite cinematic, and the video sequence plays a hugely significant role. The scenes where the performers are silent and which are woven into the musical fabric of the opera are very important. Its impossible to pick apart the detail of how it works. Perhaps its a controversial device, but you cannot but feel that this is a profound production. During rehearsals, there were times when I had a lump in my throat and couldnt hold back the tears. I had the sense that I was experiencing something transcendental, something beyond the bounds of our world. Audiences cant treat this production simply as entertainment. Its a metaphor, very complex in terms of its meaning and composition. You cant grasp all of its layers straight away. You have to want to think about it.

This is how I understand it myself: Iolanta is too good for a flawed world, a world which is not worthy of her. Pure of spirit and wounded, she cannot and will not accept that world. What she sees with her inner vision is much subtler and more important than what she sees with her eyes when she regains her sight. Thats not her world. What she eventually sees is not what she had imagined. Was she blind? Or do we all seem blind to her, perhaps?

On the subject of purity, before this production, I never had the slightest inkling of how much there is to hear in this opera of Tchaikovskys. I used to think there was no way it could bear comparison with Eugene Onegin or The Queen of Spades; I was obviously still too young. Perhaps its a rather daring parallel to draw, but now I interpret Iolanta as an extension of the person of Tchaikovsky himself. The composer saw himself in Iolanta. This is his final opera; he is rethinking his values and searching for higher meaning. Perhaps he sees in Iolanta the ultimate spiritual ideal which he would like to live up to.

The production covers a few different points in time, and my heroine takes on several visual manifestations. For instance, the music lesson scene is from Iolantas childhood. Iolanta is played not just by an adult, but also by girls of various ages. I find it difficult to be objective, but Im in love with these young performers. I dont even try and analyse how we interact, how we copy each others movements from different sides of the mirror. They just give me goose bumps; I get these strange, magical sensations.

The childrens roles in the opera are very important. They say its impossible to deceive children. With some directors, they clam up, and thats it; with others, they want to work and dont get tired. There are several children performing in Iolanta  two groups, in fact  and nobody has clammed up. You get the feeling that there was no need to rehearse with them at all. They just came on set and grasped everything straightaway, despite the fact that there are some challenging moments  theyre not just chasing around the stage. There are scenes which have to be accurate to the centimetre, the kind of thing which would drive an adult round the bend, and yet they wanted to take part in it so muchy and were just awed by it all! Now, theyre counting down the days until the next performance. Thats a good sign. It means this is something real."

Maria Litke

"I think Iolanta is ahead of our time. Even though the production has been staged in our city, where audiences (particularly the Mikhailovskys audiences) are open to contemporary trends and less conservative, after the first few performances I had the sense that the public wasnt ready to venture beyond the classical concept of the opera.

We tend to think of Iolanta as an angelic beauty. According to the libretto, she catches the imagination of a young man, who sees her quite literally as an angel from heaven. Nowadays, we often call people who are somehow different angels or, to use a term from the past, people with disabilities, including autistic people. They live by their own rules, in their own world, and if they interact with the outside world at all, its only with great effort.

As our director understands it, Iolanta is a girl apart. At times shes a sleepwalker; at other times, shes autistic. She lives in her own world and tries to make that world correspond with the outside world where her father, who maintains contact with the rest of society, lives. Hes an ordinary person but sees a great deal which is odd about his daughter and senses a sort of magic within her. As for the two young men who appear in their house, I have doubts about whether that actually happens in reality or just in my characters imagination. Perhaps shes fallen asleep and sees two young men coming to visit her, then enters into that dream and continues her life inside it. Thats how her world works. We dont know whether shes asleep or awake at the time, but all her life unfolds in her head. You want to ask: does Vaudémont actually exist? She may have just imagined him  with wings and a bow like Cupid, the god of love. Various characters spring up in her imagination and happily coexist without any arguments or dramatic conflicts.

Iolanta is very similar to the heroine of the German film Barefoot. For example, she cant bear to be touched. In the film, theres a scene where the heroine goes to some sort of society event and somebody tries to dance with her, and she screams and falls to the ground in a faint, shocking everyone. Again, thats the kind of problem a girl with autism who doesnt want to venture outside the boundaries of her own world would have. Its difficult to say whether thats what Tchaikovskys opera is about. We know from his letters that when he was writing Iolanta he kept reflecting on divine and earthly love. It was a subject he gave a lot of thought to, and it shows up in our production too  but this isnt exactly a canonical reading of the opera.

Our production hints at the fact that Tchaikovsky too only ventured outside his own world unwillingly. If you read his correspondence with Nadezhda von Meck, it becomes clear that it took a great deal of effort for her to drag the composer out of his inner refuge. Without her he may well never have written most of what he wrote. He couldnt exist in the ordinary world either; he was like a child. Andriy Zholdak sensed the link between this facet of Tchaikovskys character and Iolanta, and wanted to emphasise it: that purity and childishness (not to be confused with infantility), the directness of their outlook on the world, which is neither banal nor quotidian, but the kind of outlook which seems to take in the whole of the world in its entirety.

Surprisingly enough, children and teenagers really take to our production. It includes a lot of the kind of thing you find in contemporary films, and they pick up on that. Thanks to the video, its visually multilayered, and theres this illusion of magic. Just like our Iolanta, children often have made-up friends who they play with in their imaginations, so they immediately understand why shes playing with her reflections in the mirror. Children learn about the world around them, and about themselves, through the mirror. Iolanta is admittedly supposed to be a young woman already, but her world is fundamentally very childlike, bright, and playful. She always wants to be inside some picture or another; she travels through different worlds. In her imagination, people are angels with wings, but in reality, theyre not angels at all. She sees their inner aggression, even though she herself lives in the Golden City, like in Boris Grebenshchikovs song."
USER AGREEMENT



1. GENERAL PROVISIONS

1.1.    This User Agreement (hereinafter referred to as the Agreement) defines the procedure for accessing the website of the St. Petersburg State Funded Cultural Institution, the St. Petersburg Mussorgsky State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre Mikhailovsky Theatre (hereinafter referred to as the Mikhailovsky Theatre) located at the domain www.mikhailovsky.ru.

1.2. This Agreement regulates the relationship between the Mikhailovsky Theatre and the users of this website.



2. DEFINITION OF TERMS

2.1. For the purposes of this Agreement, the terms indicated below shall have the following meaning:

2.1.2. Mikhailovsky Theatre Site Administrators those employees authorized to manage the website, acting on behalf of the Mikhailovsky Theatre.

2.1.3. User of the Mikhailovsky Theatre Site (hereinafter the User) a person having access to and using the website via the Internet.

2.1.4. Site the Mikhailovsky Theatre website located at the domain www.mikhailovsky.ru.

2.1.5. Content of the Mikhailovsky Theatre Site the protected results of intellectual activity, including extracts from audiovisual productions, their names, forewords, annotations, articles, illustrations and covers, with or without text, graphic, textual, photographic, derived, composite, and other works, user interfaces, visual interfaces, logos, and also the design, structure, selection, coordination, external appearance, general style, and placement of the Content making up the Site and other intellectual property whether together and/or separately contained in the Mikhailovsky Theatre Site and the Personal Area, from where it is then possible to purchase Mikhailovsky Theatre tickets.



3. SUBJECT OF THE AGREEMENT

3.1. The subject of this Agreement is the provision to the User of access to the services available on the Site.

3.1.1. The Mikhailovsky Theatre Site shall provide the following services to the User:

- access to information about the Mikhailovsky Theatre and information about how to purchase tickets

- purchase of electronic tickets

- discounts, promotions, concessions, and special offers

- receipt of information about Theatre news and events, including via news and information distribution services (email, phone, text message)

- access to electronic content, with the right to view such content

- access to search and navigation tools

- the opportunity to post messages and comments

- other services provided through the pages of the Mikhailovsky Theatre Site

3.2. This Agreement covers all services existing (or functioning) at the present time on the Mikhailovsky Theatre Site, and any subsequent modifications to them and additional services which may appear in the future.

3.2. Access to the Mikhailovsky Theatre Site shall be provided free of charge.

3.3. This Agreement is a public offer. In obtaining access to the Site, the User shall be deemed to have opted in to this Agreement.

3.4. Use of the materials and services on the Site shall be governed by the provisions of current Russian Federation legislation.



4. RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS OF THE PARTIES

4.1. The Mikhailovsky Theatre Site Administrators shall have the right:

4.1.1. To change the rules for use of the Site and to change the Content of the Site. Changes to usage rules shall enter into force from the moment the new version of the Agreement is published on the Site.

4.2. The User shall have the right:

4.2.1. User registration on the Mikhailovsky Theatre Site shall be for the purpose of identifying the User in order to provide Site services, distribute information and news (by email, post, telephone, text message, or other means), and to obtain feedback and a record of the provision of concessions, discounts, special offers, and promotions.

4.2.2. To use all of the services available on the Site.

4.2.3. To ask any questions relating to the information presented on the Mikhailovsky Theatre Site.

4.2.4. To use the Site solely for the purposes and in the manner provided for by this Agreement and not prohibited by Russian Federation legislation.

4.3. The User shall:

4.3.2. Take no action which may be considered to be in breach of the normal functioning of the Site.

4.3.3. Avoid any actions which may result in a breach of confidentiality with regard to information protected by Russian Federation legislation.

4.4. The User may not:

4.4.1. Use any device, program, procedure, algorithm or method, automated devices, or similar manual processes in order to access, acquire, copy, or track the Content of the Site.

4.4.3. Circumvent in any way the navigational structure of the Site in order to obtain or attempt to obtain any information, documents, or material by any means which are expressly not provided by the Site services;

4.4.4. Breach the security or authentication systems of the Site or any network associated with the Site. Carry out reverse searches, track, or attempt to track any information about any other User of the Site.



5. USE OF THE WEBSITE

5.1. The Site and the Content contained therein belong to and are managed by the Mikhailovsky Theatre Site Administrators.

5.2. The Content of the Site may not be published, reproduced, transferred, or distributed by any means, nor posted on the worldwide networks of the Internet without the written consent of the Site Administrators.

5.5. The User shall be personally responsible for the confidentiality of the information in his/her account, including his/her password, and for all activity, without exception, which is carried out on behalf of the User of the account.

5.6. The User must immediately notify the Site Administrators of any unauthorized use of his/her account or password, or of any other breach of the security system.



6. LIABILITY

6.1. Losses which the User may suffer in the event of a deliberate or negligent breach of any provision of this Agreement, or as a consequence of unauthorized access to the communications of any other User, shall not be reimbursed by the Mikhailovsky Theatre Site Administrators.

6.2. The Mikhailovsky Theatre Site Administrators shall not be liable for:

6.2.1. Delays or malfunctions in the process of carrying out operations arising as a result of force majeure circumstances, nor for any faults in the telecommunications, computer, electronic, or other related systems.

6.2.2. The actions of banking, transfer, and payment systems, nor for delays connected with their operation.

6.2.3. Improper functioning of the Site in cases where the User does not have the technical equipment required for its use, nor do the Administrators accept any obligation to provide Users with such equipment.



7. BREACH OF THE TERMS OF THIS USER AGREEMENT

7.1. The Mikhailovsky Theatre Site Administrators shall have the right to terminate and/or block access to the Site, without prior notice to the User, if the User has breached this Agreement or the terms of use of the Site contained in other documents, or in the event of the Site ceasing to function, or due to technical glitches or problems.

7.2. The Site Administrators shall not be liable to the User or third parties for termination of access to the Site in the event of a breach by the User of any of the provisions of this Agreement or any other document containing the terms of use of this Site.

7.3. The Site Administrators shall have the right to disclose any information about the User as may be necessary for the execution of the provisions of current legislation or judicial rulings.



8. DISPUTE RESOLUTION

8.1. In the event of any disagreements or disputes arising between the Parties to this Agreement, a mandatory condition before resorting to the courts is that a claim should be submitted (a written proposal for voluntary resolution of the dispute).

8.2. The recipient of the claim shall, within 30 calendar days of receipt, notify the claimant in writing of the results of consideration of the claim.

8.3. If it is not possible to settle the dispute by voluntary means, either Party may apply to the courts for protection of their rights as provided for under current Russian Federation legislation.



9. ADDITIONAL PROVISIONS

9.1. In opting in to this Agreement and leaving his/her information on the Mikhailovsky Theatre Site by completing the registration form, the User:

9.1.1. Consents to the processing of the following personal information: full name; date of birth; telephone number; email address; payment details (if the service is used to purchase electronic tickets to the Mikhailovsky Theatre);

9.1.2. Confirms that this personal information belongs to him/her personally;

9.1.3. Gives the Mikhailovsky Theatre Site Administrators the right to carry out, without limit in time, the following actions (operations) with his/her personal information:

- collection and accumulation

- storage for an unlimited period of time (indefinitely) from the moment that the information is provided until it is recalled by the User by means of an application to the Site Administrators

- clarification (renewal, modification)

- destruction

9.2. The User's personal information shall be processed in accordance with Article 6.1.5 of Federal Law No. 152-FZ dated 27.07.2006 On Personal Information, solely for the purposes of performing the obligations accepted by the Mikhailovsky Theatre Site Administrators under this Agreement with respect to the User, including those indicated in clause 3.1.1 of this Agreement.

9.3. The User accepts and confirms that all of the provisions of this Agreement and the terms of processing his/her personal information are understood by him/her, and expresses his/her consent with the terms of processing his/her personal information without reservation or limitation. The Users consent to the processing of his/her personal information is specific, informed, and conscious.