The Mariinsky Theatre's tour of the United Kingdom has come to a close

The final concert of the Mariinsky Theatre’s UK tour under Valery Gergiev took place on 18 October at Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall.

The Mariinsky Theatre’s ten-day tour to Great Britain has come to a close. During the tour, Valery Gergiev conducted the theatre’s operatic weekend with outstanding bass baritone Bryn Terfel to mark five years since the inception of the Wales Millennium Centre. The theatre’s Orchestra and Chorus then went on to perform in Birmingham with Hector Berlioz’ Requiem together with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. The orchestra subsequently appeared at the Belfast Festival at Queen’s, performing Dmitry Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony and Henri Dutilleux’ Correspondances.

Reviewing the tour’s concerts, Cardiff’s Western Mail reporter was generous with his praise: “Take a combination of the finest baritone on the planet and one of the greatest conductors anywhere and the result is a musical explosion like you have never heard.”

Opera Britannia’s reporter: “The world-famous Mariinsky Orchestra were on superlative form and produced some of the most meticulously precise playing I have ever experienced, particularly from the string section who really did sound as one. […] The Hungarian march from Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust was also executed with flawless precision and stylish flair and the third orchestral piece – Verdi’s overture from La forza del destino – was superbly agitated and suitably full of drama.

Among the Mariinsky soloists it was the young Russian baritone Alexei Markov who undoubtedly made the biggest impression with his warm, velvet-like timbre and beautifully rich legato phrasing. Close your eyes and you could almost be listening to a young Dmitri Hvorostovsky. He started the programme with a gloriously sung rendition of Gryaznoi’s aria from Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Tsar’s Bride and also closed the first half with the final scene from Eugene Onegin; a moving and intelligently sung portrayal – the perfect combination of passion and remorse.

Joining Markov as his Tatiana was the soprano Viktoria Yastrebova, who was wonderfully expressive and executed a stunning diminuendo on the high A flat as she finally admitted her love for Onegin "Akh, ya vas lyublyoo!"

… I really enjoyed bass Sergei Alexashkin’s version of The Old Gypsy’s Tale from Rakhmaninov’s opera Aleko, followed by tenor Sergei Skorokhodov singing The Young Gypsy’s Romance from the same opera. Skorokhodov’s graceful tenor with its delightfully elegant high notes makes for very pleasant listening indeed. He later returned to the stage as Edgardo in the duet "Sulla tomba che rinserra" from Lucia di Lammermoor, partnered by the very promising young soprano Zhanna Dombrovskaya, who possesses an attractive, crystal-clear tone which cut through the orchestra with ease.

The Ride of the Valkyries was sung with a great deal of energy, if not a lot of subtlety by a very strong ensemble. Among the Valkyries, soprano Zhanna Dombravskaya (who had sung Lucia in the first half) displayed some thrilling, piercing high notes as Gerhilde, while Tatiana Kravtsova was an impressively powerful Helmwige.

The role of the tragic Sieglinde was taken by Moscow-born soprano Mlada Khudolei, who had also sung this part in the recent Mariinsky Ring cycle at Covent Garden this summer. Khudolei’s dark-timbred soprano has a full-bodied richness, together with some beautifully burnished colouring in the lower register. Her ecstatic outburst "O hehrstes Wunder!" was truly radiant…”

South Wales Argus’ reporter:
“The first half of the concert abounded in the wonderful Russian voices. Sergei Alexashkin and tenor Sergei Skorokhodov in extracts from Rakhmaninov’s Aleko typified voices that tap hidden soulful resources, and Alexei Markov and Viktoria Yastrebova in the painful final scene from TCHAIKOVSKY’s Eugene Onegin could not have been more at home.”

South Wales Argus’ reporter on Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem:
“This weekend reminded us that St Petersburg’s Mariinsky, Russia’s oldest music theatre, boasts singers of majestic accomplishment but it has also progressed with the impetus of an opera.

Gergiev’s ability to begin in hushed tones and end in music that seemed to tap the same spiritual source was the mark of genius.

He was served well. Soprano Viktoria Yastrebova, mezzo YEkaterina Gubanova, tenor Sergei Semishkur and – standard-bearing for the Welsh hosts – bass Bryn Terfel could not have been bettered as both a unit and as individuals absorbed in moments of private anguish and supplication.”