Close to the historic building of the Mariinsky Theatre, the new Concert Hall has opened at 20 Pisareva Street on the site formerly occupied by workshops. The unique interior, created by leading specialists in the field, has been referred to as "an acoustic sensation" by the international press. Over the season the Mariinsky Theatre presented eight opera and five ballet premieres in addition to three festivals.
Continuing the tradition of co-productions with the world's leading opera houses, the Mariinsky Theatre presented a new production of Tchaikovsky's Mazepa on 11 September together with New York's Metropolitan Opera (directed by Yuri Alexandrov, designed by George Tsypin). Over the season the Mariinsky Theatre enriched its list of works by Prokofiev, with The Love for Three Oranges (14 and 15 March, directed by Alain Maratrat, designed by Daniela Villaret) and The Gambler (21 June, directed by Temur Chkheidze, designed by Zinovy Margolin) returning to the playbill.
The Mariinsky Theatre is also continuing its programme of enlightenment, introducing the Russian public to less familiar masterpieces of musical theatre. The season saw premieres of Leos Janacek's Jenufa (4 and 5 April, directed by Vasily Barkhatov, designed by Zinovy Margolin) and Strauss' Elektra (6 and 7 May, directed by Jonathan Kent, designed by Paul Brown).
As part of the Stars of the White Nights Festival, Giacomo Puccini's famous Tosca was premiered on 31 May with subsequent performances on 3, 10 and 26 June (directed by Paul Curran, designed by Paul Edwards). The title role was performed by Maria Guleghina, one of the world's finest interpreters of the role of Floria Tosca.
The Mariinsky Theatre Concert Hall also saw its first theatre premiere – 6 June witnessed a performance of Berlioz' opera Benvenuto Cellini (directed by Vasily Barkhatov, designed by Zinovy Margolin).
One highlight of the Stars of the White Nights festival and the Mariinsky Theatre season in general came with Rodion Shchedrin's opera The Enchanted Wanderer, which was performed to great acclaim on 10 July at the Concert Hall.
The first ballet premiere of the season took place on 14 and 15 November. The programme included three one-act ballets: Metaphysics to Prokofiev's Second Symphony, The Meek One to Rakhmaninov's Second Symphony and The Rite of Spring by Stravinsky. The works were staged by choreographer Donvena Pandoursky with sets and costumes by Mihail Chemiakin.
The list of ballet premieres includes several works by young choreographers: Wir der Alte Leiermann (12 April, music by Leonid Desyatnikov, choreography by Alexei Miroshnichenko), The Ring (13 April, music by 2H Company, choreography by Alexei Miroshnichenko) and Aria Suspended (7 and 15 July, music by Stravinsky and choreography by Peter Quanz).
The 224th season saw the Mariinsky Theatre continue its tradition of restoring ballets by outstanding choreographer Marius Petipa – 12 and 13 April saw the premiere of the revival of Le reveil de Flore (choreography restored by Sergei Vikharev).
From 12 – 18 February the Mariinsky Theatre ran the Maslenitsa festival, this year marking one hundred and twenty-five years since the birth of great Russian composer Igor Stravinsky.
12 – 22 April saw the VII International Ballet Festival Mariinsky – the only international classical dance festival in Russia – with Mariinsky Theatre soloists and corps de ballet performing alongside leading international soloists and guest companies.
From 18 May – 15 July the Mariinsky Theatre and Concert Hall hosted the XV International Stars of the White Nights Festival. Over nine weeks at both venues there were almost ninety performances and concerts. The theatre also gave its now traditional performances in Ivangorod and Vyborg.
The 224th season saw the conclusion of the theatre's grandiose project celebrating one hundred years since the birth of Dmitry Shostakovich. The Mariinsky Opera Company's tours took the production of Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen to Orange County (California, USA), the Millennium Centre in Cardiff (Wales, UK) and Las Palmas (Canary Islands, Spain). One unprecedented event came with two triumphant performances of the tetralogy at New York's Metropolitan Opera – the first performance of Der Ring by a Russian company at the famed venue. In line with tradition, the theatre travelled to Baden-Baden, Washington's Kennedy Center and Mikkeli (Finland).
The Mariinsky Ballet Company's tours were also extensive, its stars and young soloists performing to great acclaim in Italy, the USA and South-East Asia.
The first Russian Ring at the Metropolitan Opera
13-21 July will see the first performance of Wagner's tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen
by a Russian company at the renowned New York Metropolitan Opera.
New York's exacting audiences will have the opportunity to see Valery Gergiev conduct the Mariinsky Theatre in two performances of Wagner's Ring, referred to by The New York Times following the first performances abroad in December 2003 – January 2004 in Germany "a truly historic and epoch-making event". Major German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel stated that "the Russians have emerged from the Ring victorious".
The Mariinsky Theatre has since gone on to perform its version of the Ring throughout the world – at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff (Wales, UK), the Orange County Festival (Southern California, USA), Las Palmas (Canary Islands, Spain) to mark the reopening of the Teatro Perez Galdos after reconstruction, Tokyo (Japan) and Moscow.
Mariinsky Theatre soloists whose Wagnerian repertoires have brought them deserved acclaim throughout the world will be appearing in the operas in the Ring; they are to include Mikhail Kit, Yevgeny Nikitin, Alexei Tanovitsky (Wotan), Larisa Gogolevskaya, Olga Savova, Olga Sergeyeva (Brunnhilde), Leonid Zakhozhaev, Viktor Lutsyuk (Siegfried), Viktor Chernomortsev, Edem Umerov (Alberich), Mlada Khudolei, Valeria Stenkina (Sieglinde), Oleg Balashov (Siegmund), Gennady Bezzubenkov, Mikhail Petrenko (Fafner, Hunding), Svetlana Volkova, Larisa Diadkova (Fricka), Vasily Gorshkov (Loge), Zlata Bulycheva (Erda) and Anastasia Kalagina (Forest Bird).
The Met will witness three major debuts: renowned baritone Nikolai Putilin will be performing as Alberich, tenor Avgust Amonov as Siegmund and young bass Alexei Tanovitsky as the Traveller in the opera Siegfried for the first time in the Mariinsky's production of the Ring.
Mariinsky Theatre Ballet Premiere: Aria Suspended to music by Stravinsky
As part of the XV International Stars of the White Nights Festival on 7 and 15 July, the Mariinsky Theatre will be premiering the ballet Aria Suspended by young choreographer Peter Quanz to Stravinsky's Symphony in C.
Production Designer: Mikhail Barkhin
Animation Director: Alexander Malyshev
Animation Designer: Mikhail Barkhin
Costume Designer: Holly Hynes
Lithigng: Vladimir Lukasevich
7 July – 1 and 7 pm, 15 July – 7 pm
Like many other important festival events, the White Nights ballet premiere of Aria Suspended to Stravinsky's Symphony in C is dedicated to marking one hundred and twenty-five years since the composer's birth.
Stravinsky commenced work on the Symphony in 1938 in France, completing it in the USA after emigrating at the start of World War II. On 7 November 1940 the Symphony was premiered by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with the composer conducting.
The composer remarked that the title he gave to the Symphony does not denote the basic tonality of the work in the way it did with 19th century symphonic composers, rather it bears witness to the fact that "C" is pivotal in the sound system of this work.
Choreographer Peter Quanz on the ballet: "Maestro Gergiev set me the task of creating a thirty-minute ballet to symphony music by Stravinsky. It took me literally ten minutes to choose the music. I found Symphony in C, listened to five bars and understood that this was what I needed. Never before have I found it so easy to select music. Then I started to study the score and its history. I was taken by the fact that Stravinsky started work on the first movement in 1938 after three people he loved had died from TB – his mother, wife and daughter. For him the birth of this music was a kind of closure. The third and fourth movements were completed in the USA after his marriage to Vera de Bosset. For me, this to a great extent defines the stylistic difference between the first and subsequent movements of the score. The Symphony proclaimed the death of three loved ones and the loss of three important connections – to his mother, his daughter and his wife. In my ballet the dancer and her three partners also depict three kinds of relationship, differing in quality, concept and appearance. But this is just the framework for the dance. Of course, if there are two people on stage the story emerges by itself. But in Aria Suspended the action is not restricted to any one subject, it submits only to the music. Professionally, I am drawn to classical ballet. And I am certain that even today we can do new things here. Petipa and Balanchine are gone – but that doesn't mean that their language died with them. Of course, both audiences and dancers see everything through the prism of contemporaneity, they refer to their own backgrounds, which naturally are different to those of the public and the performers of the mid and, even more so, early 20th century. And, of course, we have to work on creating a new language, where every new word has to correspond to the present day."
Peter Quanz Choreographer
Choreographer Peter Quanz has worked with many ballet companies throughout the world, among them American Ballet Theatre, the Royal Ballet, American Ballet Theatre Studio Company, Sacramento Ballet, Ballett Chemnitz (Germany) and the Banff Centre. He has been invited twice to the New York Choreographic Institute, an affiliate of New York City Ballet. Peter Quanz has been involved in experimental pieces for choreographic workshops of the Stuttgart Ballett, the National Ballet of Canada and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. In 2006 Peter Quanz was invited to stage a ballet at the Fire Island Dance Festival with performers from the Martha Graham Dance Company.
Subsequent highlights have included Kaleidoscope with American Ballet Theatre, the theatre's only new production in 2005. With Ballett Chemnitz Peter Quanz staged his first full-evening story ballet Charlie's Cruise, which met with tremendous critical acclaim. The production was set to music by Cole Porter, specially arranged for this ballet.
In 2005 Peter Quanz was presented with Canada's Clifford E. Lee Award for young choreographers. He has also received grants from the Canadian Arts Council, the Chalmers Foundation (UK, guest choreographer of the Royal Ballet, the Birmingham Royal Ballet and English National Ballet) and from the Judy and Henny Jurriens Choreographic Fellowship.
Current and upcoming projects include world premieres for the Mariinsky Theatre, the National Ballet of Canada, the Pennsylvania Ballet, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal, Leipziger Ballett, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the Washington Ballet at the Kennedy Center.
The in-demand young choreographer has works booked into 2010 in North America and Europe.
Among those rehearsing the premiere are Viktoria Tereshkina, Alexander Sergeyev, Ilya Kuznetsov, Anton Pimonov, Yekaterina Osmolkina, Filipp Stepin, Andrei Yermakov, Alexei Nedviga and the Mariinsky Theatre corps de ballet.
Hector Berlioz' Benvenuto Cellini: the First Opera Premiere at the Mariinsky Theatre Concert Hall
At 8 pm on 6 July, the Mariinsky Theatre Concert Hall will witness a special event as part of the XV International Stars of the White Nights Festival – the premiere of Hector Berlioz' opera Benvenuto Cellini, conducted by Valery Gergiev.
This rarely performed work by Berlioz, one of the most beautiful operas of its time, is being staged by director Vasily Barkhatov and designer Zinovy Margolin, both familiar to audiences for their production of Leos Janacek's Jenufa, premiered this season. The libretto is based on an episode from the life of Benvenuto Cellini – a famous goldsmith and adventurist, a man who brought to life the principles of the Renaissance with pleasure and unrestrained vitality. The premiere audience will see Cellini in a modern setting of glitter and glamour, with the daytime spent in boutiques and the night illuminated by the flashing of cameras.
History: Benvenuto Cellini was Hector Berlioz' first opera. The subject was taken from the highly entertaining Memoirs of Cellini – a renowned 16th century Italian jeweller and sculptor.
The disaster of the Paris Opera premiere in 1838 was a major disappointment for Berlioz. The opera was booed and dropped from the repertoire having barely survived four performances. The reason for the fiasco was the poor preparation of the production, the carelessness and plain enmity of most of the cast who were convinced the work was a failure and the foul temper of Habeneck the conductor. In fact the failure was not simply and not so much because of this. Berlioz' opera was too different from the normal form of "grand opera" that reigned at the time in Paris theatres, and neither did it fit the traditional form of comic opera buffa. When he was writing Cellini however, the composer was least concerned about it matching the recognised canons of opera. Thinking in the Renaissance style, he combined comedy with drama and created a vivid carnival scene, mixing motifs of romantic intrigue, abduction and, lastly, murder into the plot.
After fourteen long years thanks to Franz Liszt, Berlioz' opera was performed to great acclaim in Weimar. For this production, Berlioz wrote a new version: he turned the two-act opera into a four-act one; later, in 1856 yet another, three-act version appeared. The first production of Benvenuto Cellini in Russia took place at St Petersburg's Maly Theatre in 1969. It has never been in the Mariinsky Theatre's repertoire until now.
Among those rehearsing the premiere are Sergei Semishkur, Anastasia Kalagina, Yekaterina Popova, Nikolai Gassiev, Alexander Gergalov, Nikolai Kamensky, Zlata Bulycheva, Gennady Bezzubenkov and Fyodor Kuznetsov.
The premiere has been made possible thanks to support from the Conny-Maeva Charitable Foundation.
Premiere: Puccini's Tosca at the Mariinsky Theatre as part of the XV International Stars of the White Nights Festival
On 31 May and 3, 10 and 26 June the Mariinsky Theatre will be staging a new production of Giacomo Puccini's famous opera Tosca. Musical Director and Conductor: Valery Gergiev; Stage Director: Paul Curran; Set and Costume Designer: Paul Edwards; Lighting Designer: David Jacques.
This production of Tosca is a special Stars of the White Nights festival project. Notably Maria Guleghina, one of the finest interpreters of the role of Floria Tosca today, has been engaged for the premiere. In subsequent performances the title role will be performed by stars of the Mariinsky Opera Company Irina Gordei and Olga Sergeyeva. Puccini's masterpiece has only been staged at the Mariinsky once before, in 1994, when it was directed by Irkin Gabitov and designed by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle (San Francisco Opera's 1972 production).
Tosca, set to a libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa after the play of the same name by Victorien Sardou, premiered at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome in 1900. The opera met with a frosty reception – critics even referred to it as "aural and visual sadism", though later Tosca became one of the best loved and most famous works in world opera. Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924) was one of musical verismo's classicists. And if his other famous operas – Manon Lescaut (1893) and La boheme (1896) – are not without notes of lyrical drama, then Tosca is the third of Puccini's mature operas – a truly verismo work.
Stage Director Paul Curran on the production: "For us, it is a great pleasure to work on Tosca, especially at the Mariinsky Theatre. I have never staged this opera before, or anything by Puccini for that matter. We thought a lot about what time to choose for our production. It could have been 1800, in correspondence with the date indicated in the libretto, but in my opinion it can also be set in the late 1930s. Why' Because Tosca is an incredibly vivid story of sex, religion and politics. In our production the action takes place in the 30s in Mussolini's Italy. After all, the 30s was the most significant period in the 20th century, when world history and the world itself changed. I thought of setting the opera in the 21st century but that would have been inaccurate. Today there are no public figures like Scarpia. I associate him with statesmen like Stalin or Beria."
The performances on 31 May and 3 and 26 June will be conducted by Valery Gergiev. On 31 May and 26 June Maria Guleghina will be appearing in the title role. Among other soloists also rehearsing the new production are: Irina Gordei, Olga Sergeyeva (Floria Tosca), Akhmed Agadi, Avgust Amonov, Mikhail Vishnyak (Cavaradossi), Valery Alekseyev, Sergei Murzaev, Viktor Chernomortsev and Edem Umerov (Scarpia).
XV International Stars of the White Nights Festival of Arts
18 May – 15 July 2007
Artistic Director – Valery Gergiev
The Mariinsky Theatre presents the XV International Stars of the White Nights Festival.
Along with the historic building of the Mariinsky Theatre, one of this year's main festival venues will be the theatre's recently-opened Concert Hall located at 20 Pisarev Street. Over the nine weeks of the festival there will be over ninety performances and concerts at both venues.
Moreover, now traditional performances are planned for Ivangorod and Vyborg.
• Series of concerts marking one hundred and twenty-five years since the birth of great Russian composer Igor Stravinsky, including a concert by the London Symphony Orchestra under Valery Gergiev on 17 June, the composer's birthday;
• Mahler Symphonies series under Valery Gergiev at the Mariinsky Theatre Concert Hall;
• Festival premieres: at the Mariinsky Theatre – Puccini's Tosca with Maria Guleghina (31 May; Director – Paul Curran, Production Designer – Paul Edwards); Prokofiev's The Gambler with Vladimir Galuzin (21 June; Director – Temur Chkheidze, Production Designer – Zinovy Margolin); a ballet Aria Suspended to Stravinsky's Symphony in C Major choreographed by young ballet master Peter Quanz (7 July); at the Concert Hall – Berlioz' Benvenuto Cellini (6 July; Director – Vasily Barkhatov, Production Designer – Zinovy Margolin); the Russian premiere of Rodion Shchedrin's opera The Enchanted Wanderer (10 July) under Valery Gergiev;
• Renowned musicians Maxim Vengerov (27 May), Vadim Repin (17 June), Nikolaj Znaider (23 and 27 June) and Alexander Toradze (25 June) in the festival's symphony concerts at the Mariinsky Theatre Concert Hall;
• Stars of world opera in performances and concerts: Olga Borodina as Marfa in Khovanshchina at the opening of the festival on 18 May; Ulyana Lopatkina in The Swan Lake (19 May, 9 June) and in La Bayadere (1 June); Anna Netrebko in concert at the Concert Hall (25 May); Thomas Hampson in a recital at the Concert Hall (19 May); Maria Guleghina in the premiere of Puccini's Tosca (31 May and 26 June); Rene Pape in scenes from Russian operas at the Concert Hall (17 June) and as Filippo II in Verdi's Don Carlo (19 June); Vladimir Galuzin as Canio in Leoncavallo's I Pagliacci and as Alexei in Prokofiev's The Gambler (21 June); Jorma Silvasti as Laca in Janacek's Jenufa (24 June); Vasily Gerello in a recital at the Concert Hall (2 July); and Waltraud Meier in a programme of works by Wagner at the Concert Hall (3 July); Svetlana Zakharova in Don Quixote (4 July); Diana Vishneva in Romeo and Juliet (9 July) and in Scheherazade (15 July);
• Renowned conductors Esa-Pekka Salonen (25 June) and Paavo Jarvi (28 June) with the Mariinsky Theatre Symphony Orchestra at the Concert Hall.
• Soloists from the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra Wiener Collage with a chamber programme of works by Schonberg, Schubert, Bartok, Vysotsky and Staar at the Concert Hall (1 July);
The festival opens on 18 May with Musorgsky's opera Khovanshchina, with Valery Gergiev conducting and Olga Borodin as Marfa.
The opera programme lists three premieres. On 31 May Puccini's masterpiece Tosca enters the Mariinsky Theatre's repertoire (directed by Paul Curran and designed by Paul Edwards). At the premiere, the main role will be performed by renowned soprano Maria Guleghina, acclaimed as one of the finest interpreters of the role of Floria Tosca today. Lastly, on 21 June, the Mariinsky Theatre will present a new version of Prokofiev's The Gambler, staged by Temur Chkheidze and with designs by Zinovy Margolin. At the premiere the role of Alexei will be sung by Vladimir Galuzin, whose vocal and acting talents to a great extent determined the success of 1991 and 1996 Mariinsky Theatre productions. On 6 July at the Mariinsky Theatre Concert Hall there will be a rare performance of Hector Berlioz' Benvenuto Cellini, directed by Vasily Barkhatov and designed by Zinovy Margolin, both already familiar to Petersburg audiences for their recent Mariinsky Theatre premiere of Janacek's Jenufa.
In line with tradition, the ballet programme of the festival includes full-scale classical works from the theatre's repertoire with the company's stars and young dancers. The playbill also lists ballets by Balanchine and Fokine to music by Stravinsky in addition to the theatre's best premieres of recent years, including one-act ballets premiered at the VII International Ballet Festival Mariinsky – Le reveil de Flore and Wie der Alte Leiermann. The premiere of the young Peter Quanz' ballet Aria Suspended, set to Stravinsky's Symphony in C Major, will prove a special highlight in the festival's dance programme (7 July).
A significant proportion of the festival programme will be performed at the Mariinsky Theatre Concert Hall. The concert programme includes the Mahler Symphonies series under Valery Gergiev. The festival playbill also lists a programme marking one hundred and twenty-five years since the birth of Igor Stravinsky, which includes works by his contemporaries – Prokofiev, Bartok, Schonberg, Debussy and Sibelius, thus portraying the context in which Stravinsky worked as well as the complete spectrum of cultural common ground and mutual influences between the most outstanding musicians of the age.
In line with tradition, the Mariinsky Theatre will be appearing at Vyborg Castle (25 June) and Ivangorod Fortress (7 July) with performances of Tchaikovsky's opera Mazepa.
The Return of a Legendary Opera: Premiere of Richard Strauss' Elektra at the Mariinsky Theatre
On 6, 7 and 25 May, Richard Strauss' masterpiece Elektra returns to the Mariinsky Theatre and the Russian stage. Almost one century ago it was the Mariinsky Theatre that introduced the Russian public to Strauss' operatic works with Vsevolod Meyerhold and Alexander Golovin's production of Elektra. The new production is being prepared by renowned British director Jonathan Kent. The production designer is Paul Brown, the lighting designer is Tim Mitchell and the musical director and conductor is Valery Gergiev.
The world premiere of Richard Strauss' one-act opera Elektra after the tragedy of the same name by Hugo von Hofmannsthal took place in 1909 in Dresden. The opera soon entered the repertoires of all of Europe's leading opera houses.
Strauss' Elektra was one of the works that paved the way for atonal music in the 20th century. But later the composer himself wrote that if he had known what consequences it would have for contemporary music he would never "have got involved in the affair". Later Strauss admitted: "Next time I will write an opera in the spirit of Mozart".
The Mariinsky was the first Russian theatre to stage Elektra – Vsevolod Meyerhold and designer Alexander Golovin's production was premiered here in 1913. The opera was performed just three times.
Director Jonathan Kent is now working on the new production of Elektra. In opera, he has staged Puccini's Tosca at Covent Garden, and future plans include Britten's The Turn of the Screw for the Glyndebourne Festival. Initially Jonathan Kent gained fame as Artistic Director of the Almeida drama theatre in London. Over twelve years there he has staged productions including Dryden's All for Love, Euripides' Medea (also performed in the West End and on Broadway), Chatsky (new version by Anthony Burgess after Griboyedov's comedy Woe from Wit), Moliere's L'ecole des maris and Tartuffe, Shakespeare's The Tempest, Richard II, Coriolanus, King Lear and Hamlet, Racine's Phedre and Britannicus and Wedekind's Lulu.
Jonathan Kent on the premiere: "Strauss and von Hofmannsthal have created a work of raw emotional power and psychological violence. It is no coincidence that three years after the premiere of their opera in 1909, Jung coined the phrase "the Elektra complex". Elektra is trapped in the obsessive love for her dead father and the equally obsessive need to keep faith with the past and a lust for revenge. Her tragedy is that she is held forever in a state of opposition, unable to move on from his death and to accommodate life. Almost her final words are "Liebe totet! Aber keiner fahrt dahin und hat die Liebe nicht gekannt" (Love kills! But no one dies without knowing love).
Strauss saw his opera as a "vehicle for emotion" and all three women – Elektra, Chrysothemis, her sister, and Klytemnestra, her mother – are held in a violent and agonising suspension by one terrible act, the murder of Agamemnon, which takes place before the opera begins.
By making this production contemporary – yet setting it in a style moderne palace, the architecture of Strauss – we hope to preserve the mythic status of the story while allowing it the complexity of our modern awareness.".
The premiere is being rehearsed by Larisa Gogolevskaya, Milena Kotlyar, Irina Vasilieva, Mlada Khudolei, Elena Vitman, Olga Savova, Vasily Gorshkov, Maxim Aksenov, Oleg Balashov, Vadim Kravets, Eduard Tsanga, Edem Umerov and other soloists of the Mariinsky Theatre and the Academy of Young Singers.
Leos Janacek's Opera Jenufa for the First Time at the Mariinsky Theatre
On 4 and 5 April, the Mariinsky Theatre will be staging Leos Janacek's opera Jenufa for the first time. Stage Director – Vasily Barkhatov; Set Designer – Zinovy Margolin; Costume Designer – Maria Danilova; Lighting Designer – Gleb Filshtinsky; Musical Director – Valery Gergiev.
One of the most popular works in contemporary opera, Jenufa has never before been staged at the Mariinsky Theatre. In the late 50s Jenufa, also known as Her Stepdaughter, was performed at the Novosibirsk Opera and the Bolshoi Theatre. It did not, however, become established in the repertoire of any major Russian theatre. The libretto was written by the composer after the drama by Gabriela Preissova which tells of the tragic history of Moravian peasant girl Jenufa whose newborn child is murdered by her stepmother.
The world premiere took place on 21 January 1904 in Brno. For twelve years the composer negotiated the possibility of staging Jenufa in Prague, but he was consistently turned down. In 1916 the theatre presented Janacek with an ultimatum: the opera would be staged but under the condition the score undergo major reworking by Principal Conductor of the Prague National Opera Karel Kovarovic (1862–1920). The 61 year-old Janacek agreed to the long-awaited chance to hear his work performed in the capital. Jenufa was first seen by Prague audiences on 26 May 1916 in a version widely differing from Janacek's original idea. By coarsely intruding on the harmony and intonation of the work and correcting Janacek's "mistakes" and "oddities" of orchestration, Kovarovic deprived the work of its true charm. Paradoxically, up until the end of the 20th century, it was Kovarovic's version of Janacek's opera that theatres staged and which enjoyed immense popularity.
The St Petersburg Jenufa is not just a mark of respect to this outstanding 20th century classic. Staging Leos Janacek's work at the Mariinsky Theatre is a logical step and once again confirms that the theatre is keeping abreast of developments in European opera. For its production of Jenufa, the Mariinsky Theatre will be using the authentic version of the work: over one hundred years after its premiere, Janacek's opera will be performed in Petersburg in all its primordial magnificence.
Stage Director Vasily Barkhatov first came to the public's attention at the Stars of the White Nights festival in summer 2006 with a production of Shostakovich's musical comedy Moscow, Cheryomushki. This ironic and highly vivid production proved a triumph during the Mariinsky Theatre's summer tour to London. Set Designer Zinovy Margolin is already familiar to Petersburg audiences – at the Mariinsky Theatre he has worked on Shostakovich's The Nose, Rimsky-Korsakov's The Tsar's Bride (both directed by Yuri Alexandrov) and Tristan und Isolde (together with Stage Director Dmitry Chernyakov).
Among those rehearsing are Tatiana Pavlovskaya, Irina Mataeva, Irina Vasilieva, Larisa Gogolevskaya, Larisa Shevchenko, Maxim Aksenov, Andrei Ilyushnikov, Sergei Semishkur, Elena Vitman, Svetlana Volkova, Grigory Karasev, Alexander Morozov, Timur Abdikeyev, Anna Kiknadze and Karina Chepurnova. Valery Gergiev will be conducting the performance on 4 April.
Mariinsky Theatre Premiere: Sergey Prokofiev's The Love for Three Oranges
On 14, 15, 25 and 31 March the Mariinsky Theatre is staging a new production of Sergey Prokofiev's opera The Love for Three Oranges. The production team includes Valery Gergiev (Musical Director and Conductor), Alain Maratrat (Stage Director), Daniela Villaret (Set Designer), Mireille Dessingy (Costume Designer), Pascal Merat (Lighting Designer), Gregoria Recio (Hat Maker), Larisa Gergieva (Musical Preparation) and Andrei Petrenko (Principal Chorus Master).
Valery Gergiev will be conducting on 14 and 15 March.
The world premiere of Prokofiev's opera The Love for Three Oranges took place in Chicago in 1921. In 1926 the Mariinsky Theatre (then the State Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet) became the first theatre in Soviet Russia to stage the opera. The 1926 Soviet premiere was staged by a somewhat radical team – director Sergey Radlov, a pupil of Vsevolod Meyerhold, designer Vladimir Dmitriev, one of the most popular theatre artists of the age, choreographer Vasily Vainonen and conductor Vladimir Dranishnikov.
Prokofiev, who attended the premiere, wrote of the Soviet production to Eskuzovich, Director of the Theatres of the RSFRS: "Not only was it the best production of all that I have seen so far, it was so much better that the others seem like distant provinces in comparison : all this was achieved thanks to the splendid performing skills that the Academic Opera has achieved, its exemplary soloists, chorus, orchestra and technical staff and thanks to the exceptional talents of the staging team – Dranishnikov, Radlov and Dmitriev."
After a long break the opera was restored to the theatre's repertoire in 1991 to mark one century since the birth of Prokofiev on the initiative of Valery Gergiev. The production was directed by Alexander Petrov.
Alain Maratrat, the director of the new production, achieved fame in Russia with his brilliant rendition of Il viaggio a Reims – possibly the best Mariinsky Theatre opera production of recent years. The production was named best opera of the 2004-2005 season at the Golden Mask festival, with Maratrat's efforts receiving the award for "Best directing in opera".
Among those rehearsing the opera are Mariinsky Theatre soloists Gennady Bezzubenkov, Alexander Morozov, Grigory Karasyov, Andrei Spekhov, Vadim Kravets and Liya Shevtsova as well as soloists of the Mariinsky Academy of Young Singers such as Andrei Ilyushnikov, Sergey Semishkur, Elena Sommer, Yekaterina Shimanovich, Kristina Kapustinskaya, Karina Chepurnova, Eduard Tsanga, Pavel Shmulevich, Anastasia Kalagina, Oxana Krupnova, Nadezhda Serdyuk, Natalia Yevstafieva, Vladimir Tyulpanov, Alexei Safiulin, Ilya Bannik, Andrei Popov, Anna Kiknadze, Alexander Gerasimov and Vladislav Uspensky.
The production team includes renowned hat maker Gregoria Recio from France, who has worked alongside such couturiers as Jean Paul Gaultier and Christian Lacroix.
Over two hundred costumes have been created for the production.
Alain Maratrat on the premiere:
"The Love for Three Oranges is first and foremost a story, a tale about today's times. It is the story of a prince who opens his eyes one day and sees that the real world doesn't match his concept of that world, something not uncommon among young people. The prince is overpowered by hypochondria. He is looking for his way in the world and finds it with the help of true love.
"This story has to be told so that everyone in the audience feels it, and this task dictated decisions as to design – the action takes place very close to the audience. We are working on the premiere with young performers – soloists from the Mariinsky Academy of Young Singers. They are very energetic, they have the necessary drive. Together with the charisma of Maestro Gergiev, who can get 'inside the music' like no-one else, their fire and energy will imbue the opera with a unique spirit."
Maslenitsa at the Mariinsky Theatre
In the past, Maslenitsa, or Pancake Week, was one of St Petersburg's most lively festivals and was celebrated in style in the country's pre-Revolutionary capital ' with festivities, charity balls and masquerades, the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre playing a particularly significant role. In 2005 the Mariinsky Theatre revived the wonderful tradition of Maslenitsa and ran this festival for the first time. The third festival marks one hundred and twenty-five years since the birth of the great 20th century composer Igor Stravinsky. The festival programme includes works by Stravinsky as well as his predecessors and contemporaries.
The festival opens on 12 February with a performance of Stravinsky's opera Le rossignol and one of this season's premieres – Le sacre du printemps (choreography by Donvena Pandoursky and set design by Mihail Chemiakin).
Continuing the tradition of open-to-all performances established by the Imperial Theatres for Maslenitsa, the Mariinsky Theatre will be running a series of charity concerts. 15 February, Pancake Week's so-called "Broad Little Thursday", will see a performance of Stravinsky's tales The Fable of the Vixen, the Cock, the Cat and the Ram and L'histoire du soldat by the Mariinsky Theatre Chamber Orchestra and soloists and the Demmeni Puppet Theatre in the White Foyer (directed by Eduard Gaidai). Throughout Pancake Week, the State Academic Andreyev Russian Folk Orchestra will be performing during intervals at evening shows.
On 16 February, continuing the tradition of Maslenitsa student balls, the Mariinsky Theatre and the St Petersburg University are inviting students to say a merry farewell to winter. For an entire evening, a hall at the University will be transformed into a ballroom, where students can learn the basics of ballroom dancing from a dancing-master from the Mariinsky Theatre to the accompaniment of the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra. In line with tradition, the ball will end with pancakes, fireworks and the burning of the straw scarecrow of winter.
A Tribute to Shostakovich
The project's closing concerts with the Mariinsky Theatre Symphony Orchestra took place in early December at London's Barbican Hall, and on 25 December the orchestra gave its final performance under Valery Gergiev at the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire.
The programme marking one century since the birth of Dmitry Shostakovich included two immense series conceived by Valery Gergiev – Shostakovich Symphonies and Shostakovich on Stage – and performed in St Petersburg, throughout Russia and many other countries across the globe, with performances in the world's capitals by the Mariinsky Theatre and other renowned symphony orchestras including the Wiener Philharmoniker, the London Symphony and the Rotterdam Philharmonic.
The symphony project saw the performance of all fifteen symphonies by the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra and other leading symphony orchestras, several of which are all but unknown to the general public. This underlines the important enlightenment element of the project, as concert audiences included not just concert-goers but students from the Moscow and St Petersburg State Universities and the Universities of Michigan, San Francisco and Los Angeles (USA). Valery Gergiev opened the anniversary series in October 2005 when he conducted the Seventh and Eighth Symphonies with the London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican Hall.
Between October 2005 and December 2006 there were almost eighty concerts and performances in the anniversary series and over forty in cities in Russia, the USA, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Austria, Belgium, the UK, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Poland, Ukraine, Finland, France, Switzerland and Sweden.
The Mariinsky Theatre Symphony Orchestra began the project in autumn 2005 in St Petersburg, continuing in November with a performance of four of Shostakovich's symphonies in Toulouse, France and in early January 2006 during the theatre's largest ever tour to Japan.
March saw the series continue at the USA's leading concert venues in New York, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. During the US tour the First, Second, Seventh, Ninth and Tenth Symphonies were performed. This unique music project received great public acclaim both in US university towns and audiences at the 3000 capacity Avery Fisher Hall at New York's Lincoln Center. The North American part of the Shostakovich Symphonies series came to a close in October 2006 with the orchestras triumphant performances in Berkley, Seattle, Vancouver, Ann Arbor, Newark, Washington, Greenvale and New York.
The UK section of the anniversary programme began during a tour in May 2006 – over four evenings Newcastle there were performances of the Fifth, Eighth, Tenth and and in Birmingham the Third and Tenth. In August during a tour to London's Albert Hall at the renowned Proms, the Thirteenth Symphony was performed along with the opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk in concert.
The Shostakovich century became the leitmotif of various festivals, of which Valery Gergiev is Artistic Director – the Moscow Easter Festival (23 April – 9 May 2006), the International Stars of the White Nights Festival (St Petersburg, 10 May – 19 July 2006) and the Mikkeli Music Festival, (Finland, 1–7 July). At the Stars of the White Nights all of the composer's symphonies were performed in addition to eleven concerts under such outstanding conductors as Christoph Eschenbach, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Paavo Jдrvi, Mariss Jansons and, of course, Valery Gergiev. The anniversary series was opened on 13 May by the composer's son Maxim Shostakovich. The London Symphony Orchestra, one of the finest orchestras in the world, also took part in the programme.
Anniversary concerts also took place in Spain – during its November tour the orchestra performed the First, Fifth and Fifteenth Symphonies. In late November the orchestra the theatre's orchestra and soloists as well as the chorus and orchestra of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia took part in the From Rome to St Petersburg music festival under Valery Gergiev, also marking one century since the birth of Shostakovich, with performances at Rome's famous Auditorium concert venue.
In addition to Shostakovich's symphonic legacy, under Valery Gergiev the theatre also performed the composer's works for theatre. The innovative opera The Nose by the twenty-two year-old Shostakovich is a genuine rarity in opera house playbills, and it created a sensation during the Mariinsky Theatre's extensive tour to Paris in November 2005 at the Opera Bastille. At the Stars of the White Nights as part of the Shostakovich on Stage series, in addition to the composer's operas and ballets, there were premieres of the operetta Moscow, Cheryomushki and the ballet The Golden Age. The unprecedented Shostakovich on Stage festival at London's Coliseum in July was also dedicated to the Shostakovich anniversary. The festival programme included the operas The Nose and Katerina Ismailova, the operetta Moscow, Cheryomushki and ballets. For the first time the British public had the opportunity to see such an extensive programme of the composer's works for theatre.
The Mariinsky Theatre has become not just the Theatre of Shostakovich, but the first Russian philharmonic to perform all of the great composer's symphonies.
The Ballets to the music of Dmitry Shostakovich
On 25 September the Mariinsky Theatre will mark one century since the birth of Dmitry Shostakovich with a performance of three one-act ballets to music by the great Soviet classical composer: The Young Lady and the Hooligan (choreography by Konstantin Boyarsky), The Bedbug (choreography by Leonid Yakobson) and Leningrad Symphony (choreography by Igor Belsky). Ulyana Lopatkina and Igor Kolb will perform the lead roles in Leningrad Symphony.
Last season the Mariinsky Theatre ran several large projects to mark Shostakovich's anniversary, the programme including the Shostakovich Symphonies series under Valery Gergiev both in Russia and abroad. The Shostakovich century was the main theme of the theatre's festivals – the Stars of the White Nights, Shostakovich on Stage in London and the Mikkeli Festival.