Mariinsky (Kirov) Opera

Mariinsky (Kirov) Ballet and Opera Theatre. Click to enlarge Empress Catherine II issued an imperial edict that "Russian Theatre should be not merely for comedies and tragedies, but also for operas". This decree of 12th June 1783 to the Russian company performing in the specially built Bolshoi (Stone) Theatre envisaged the "production of one or two serious operas and two new comic operas per year". This date is considered the starting point in the history of the Mariinsky Opera Company.
Italian opera held sway over St Petersburgs Bolshoi Theatre, which opened on 24th September 1783 with Paisiellos opera Il mondo della luna. Alongside those by foreign composers, Russian works gradually began to appear on the Petersburg stage, including Orpheus and The Coachmen at the Travellers Inn by Yevstigney Fomin, The Miller, the Wizard, the Liar and the Matchmaker by Mikhail Sokolovsky and The Carriage Accident by Vasily Pashkevich. These first frays into the world of opera played a great historic role, as this is where elements of the Russian musical and dramatic style were first heard, later to be developed in the works of the great opera composers of the 19th century. Russian opera singers such as Yelizaveta Sandunova, Anton Krutitsky, Vasily Samoylov and Pyotr Zlov dazzled alongside foreign soloists on the Petersburg stage. The emergence of the Russian school is linked to these names. Mikhail Glinkas opera A Life for the Tsar was premiered at St Petersburgs Bolshoi Theatre on 27th November 1836; precisely six years later, on 27th November 1842, Glinkas second opera Ruslan and Lyudmila was performed here for the first time. The first in a series of great Russian operas combining true art with genuine accessibility, they marked the birth of classical Russian opera. It was not by mere chance that A Life for the Tsar opened the Mariinsky Theatre on 2nd October 1860.
Edward Napravnik, who dedicated over half a century to the Mariinsky Theatre (1863-1916), played an immense role in developing Russian operatic theatre, training singers and establishing a brilliant orchestra. Napravnik built up a great company that could perform complicated concert programmes in addition to operas and ballets.

Mariinsky (Kirov) Ballet and Opera Theatre. Click to enlarge The operas The Stone Guest by Dargomyzhsky (1872), Judith (1863), Rogneda (1865) and Satan (1871) by Serov, most of Rimsky-Korsakovs operas, Boris Godunov (1874) and Khovanshchina (1886) by Musorgsky, Prince Igor (1890) by Borodin, The Demon by Rubenstein, all of Tchaikovskys operas (Charodeika being conducted by the composer himself) and other magnificent Russian operatic works were all premiered at the Mariinsky Theatre.
The theatres repertoire also included the best operas by western European composers. Giuseppe Verdi wrote La forza del destino especially for the Mariinsky Theatre in 1862, where it was premiered in the presence of the composer.

The history of Richard Wagners operas in Russia is closely linked above all with the Mariinsky Theatre, where Wagner first became known to Russians not only as a composer but also as a conductor. In the 1860s and 1870s, the Mariinsky Opera Company introduced the public to the composers early reformative works and, at the turn of the century, staged Wagners grandiose tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen in full.
A great opera company emerged at the Mariinsky Theatre. The talents of Osip Petrov, who first sang the roles of Susanin, Ruslan, Farlaf, the Miller and Ivan the Terrible helped Russian operatic art to blossom. He performed on stage for almost half a century alongside Anna Vorobyova-Petrova, Maria Stepanova and Lev Leonov. These singers were succeeded by a younger generation of singers including Yulia Platonova, Mikhail Sariotti, Fyodor Komissarzhevsky, Ivan Melnikov, Fyodor Stravinsky, Yevgeny Mravin, Maria Slavina and Nikolai and Medea Figner. At the turn of the century, the Russian operatic stage was illuminated by the talents of the great Fyodor Chaliapin, who constantly aimed to embody artistic truth and portray strong human emotions on the stage.

At the start of the 20th century, operas at the Mariinsky Theatre were marked by innovative attempts to stage "unified" productions that combined music, drama, painting and choreography. Artists Alexander Golovin, Konstantin Korovin, Alexander Benois and Valentin Serov, choreographer Mikhail Fokine and director Vsevolod Meierhold collaborated on operatic productions. During his period as director of the Mariinsky Theatre (1909-1918), Meierhold staged several productions including Wagners Tristan und Isolde (1909), Glucks Orphe et Eurydice (1911), Musorgskys Boris Godunov (1911), Strauss Elektra (1913), Dargomyzhskys The Stone Guest (1917), Rimsky-Korsakovs The Snow Maiden (1917) and Stravinskys The Nightingale (1918). Meierholds operatic reforms brought the art closer to contemporary theatrical trends, seeking out new stylistic techniques connected with conventional theatre aesthetics and stylisation. In the first years after the Revolution, the foremost Russian performers continued to sing at the theatre. An entire galaxy of operatic stars including Chaliapin, Yershov, Piotrovsky, Andreyev, Bosse, Kastorsky and Kobzareva performed on the stage. Soon a new generation of artists appeared; such singers as Maksakova, Reisen, Slivinsky, Migay, Derzhinskaya, Pechovsky and Gorskaya provided a firm foundation for the Opera Company in years to come.

Mariinsky (Kirov) Ballet and Opera Theatre. Click to enlarge Conducting was at an unusually high level; operas were conducted by Kouts, Malko, Fitelberg, Pokhitonov, Kuper, Dranishnikov and Gauk.
Amongst new operas performed at the Mariinsky Theatre at this time, Prokofievs satirical comic opera Love for Three Oranges (1926), Bergs expressionistic Wozzeck (1927) and Strauss Salome (1924) and Der Rosenkavalier (1928) were especially interesting. The years leading up to the Second World War saw the production of Gtterdmmerung in 1931, Das Rheingold in 1933 and Lohengrin in 1941.
During the war years, part of the company remained in besieged Leningrad and performed concerts and operas for city residents. The rest of the company was evacuated to Perm, where it not only performed operas from the repertoire of past years, but also staged several new productions.
After the war, the theatre staged many important productions, bringing fame to a new generation of singers, musicians and directors. Prokofievs The Duenna (Betrothal in a Monastery), one of the most vivid comic operas, was among those to enjoy such success when it was staged in 1946. 1960 saw the premiere of Semyon Kotko (directed by Tovstonogov). Amongst the greatest singers then at the theatre were Preobrazhenskaya, Serval, Kashevarova, Velter, Mshanskaya, Barinova, Krivulia and Laptev.

Of western European operas, the revival of Wagners Lohengrin (1962) and Verdis La forza del destino (1963) deserve special attention. Later came Benjamin Brittens contemporary opera Peter Grimes (1965) and Hungarian composer Ferenc Erkels Lsl Hunyadi (1965). 1966 saw the production of Mozarts The Magic Flute, an opera rarely staged in Russia. Productions of these years helped discover the unique talents and great gifts of singers such as Irina Bogacheva, Galina Kovaleva, Lyudmila Filatova, Boris Shtokolov and Vladimir Atlantov.

Mariinsky (Kirov) Ballet and Opera Theatre. Click to enlarge Yuri Temirkanov was the theatres Principal Conductor from 1976 to 1988. Starting with contemporary operatic music (Prokofievs War and Peace (1977) and Rodion Shedrins Dead Souls, staged by Boris Pokrovsky (1978)), he turned his attentions to Russian classics not merely as a conductor but also as a stage director, writing his own scene plans for Eugene Onegin and The Queen of Spades. During this period, such great singers as Yevgeniya Gorokhovskaya, Lyubov Kazarnovskaya, Larisa Shevchenko, Konstantin Pluzhnikov, Nikolai Okhotnikov, Sergei Leiferkus, Alexei Steblyanko and Yuri Marusin occupied the forefront of the operatic stage.

Valery Gergievs appointment as Principal Conductor and later Artistic Director at the end of the 1980s heralded a new era for the Opera Company. The first years of his leadership were devoted to reforms not only to repertoire policy, but most importantly to the development of a new working style in a new, faster artistic tempo. On Gergievs initiative, the theatre held "monographic" festivals dedicated to Musorgsky, Prokofiev and Rimsky-Korsakov, the greatest Russian composers. At the Musorgsky festival in 1989, all the composers operas were performed - Boris Godunov, Khovanshchina, a concert performance of The Sorochinsky Fair, The Marriage and highlights of Salammbo as originally orchestrated by the composer. The festival dedicated to the 100th anniversary since the birth of Prokofiev presented audiences with four of his operas - The Fiery Angel, War and Peace, Love for Three Oranges and The Gambler. The Fiery Angel, one of the festival premieres, staged by British director David Freeman, was named best production of 1992 in Japan. Prokofievs operas were not staged at the Mariinsky Theatre for a lengthy period, and the theatre paid tribute and respect to the most important Russian opera composer of the 20th century with this festival and further productions of Betrothal in a Monastery (1996), Semyon Kotko (1999) and War and Peace (2000). The Rimsky-Korsakov in the 20th Century festival staged the composers monumental operatic works - The Maid of Pskov, The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maid Fevroniathe epic opera Sadko, Autumn Song, Kashchei the Immortal and a concert performance of The Tsars Bride.

The tradition of Promenade concerts accessible to all was restored in the 1991-92 season, their rich and varied programmes intending to draw the widest possible audience. The theatres symphonic concerts are now firmly established. The Mariinsky Opera Company and Symphony Orchestra perform at international festivals including those in Baden-Baden, Salzburg, Rotterdam, Rome and Mikkeli.

Since 1993, Valery Gergiev has been the organiser and artistic director of the annual International Stars of the White Nights Festival in St Petersburg. One of the main characteristics of this festival is its tradition to stage all the premieres of the current season. Over the years, festival premieres have included Verdis Aida and Strauss Salome (1995), Tchaikovskys Mazepa, Bizets Carmen and Prokofievs The Gambler (1996) and two versions of Shostakovichs opera - Katerina Izmailova (1995) and Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (1996). In 1997, there was Wagners Parsifal, heralding the start of the current Wagnerian period at the Mariinsky Theatre, and Musorgskys Boris Godunov in the composers original orchestration. In 1998, the festival presented another of Wagners operas, Der Fliegende Hollander, and, in 1999, Lohengrin, the opera through which St Petersburg first became acquainted with Wagners works more than a century ago. As a salute to the imperial traditions of the theatre, Verdis La forza del destino was restored with its original sets, costumes and mise-en-scenes, thereby permitting the Petersburg public to see the opera as performed during Verdis lifetime.

Click to enlarge Click to enlarge The 1999 festival saw the premiere of Prokofievs opera Semyon Kotko which received four Golden Masks, Russias highest theatrical prize. The highlight of the next festival proved to be the Mariinsky Theatre-Metropolitan Opera co-production of Prokofievs epic opera War and Peace, based on Tolstoys novel. It is noteworthy that, at the turn of this century as it did at the last, the theatre once more planned a grand production of Wagners tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen. In 2000, the opera Das Rheingold was staged, followed by Die Walkure in 2001. That year was especially rich in premieres including Verdis operas Macbeth, Un ballo in maschera and Otello. As part of the 2001 festival, there were performances of Araya s Tsefal i Prokris and Cimarosis Cleopatra, opening a new series of Treasures of the Mariinsky Theatre.

The Mariinsky Theatre was the first in Russia to start working with the worlds great opera houses - Covent Garden, Metropolitan Opera, the Opra Bastille, La Scala, La Fenice, Tel Aviv Opera and San Francisco Opera. Operas by non-Russian composers began to be performed in the original language, which had the additional advantage of helping the Mariinsky Opera Company adopt world opera trends.

The success of the Opera Company is ensured by its highly talented singers who are able to enrich any production, either classical or contemporary. It is no mere chance that Mariinsky Opera singers perform on the stages of the worlds leading opera houses, demonstrating the high level of the Russian operatic school. Alongside respected singers such as Bogacheva, Borodina, Gorokhovskaya, Dyadkova, Gorchakova, Shevchenko, Novikova, Galuzin, Gergalov, Marusin, Pluzhnikov, Putilin, Vaneyev and Okhotnikov, there is a now a new generation of young talented performers including Anna Netrebko, Irina Dzhoieva, Yevgeny Nikitin, Olga Trifonova, Vasily Gerello, Ildar Abdrazakov, Daniil Shtoda and Irina Mataeva.

Mariinsky (Kirov) Opera schedule



Full list of the Mariinsky (Kirov) Opera performances:

Giuseppe Verdi
Aida
opera in four acts


Giuseppe Verdi
Un ballo in maschera
melodrama in three acts


Hector Berlioz
Benvenuto Cellini
opera in three acts


Sergey Prokofiev
Betrothal in a Monastery (The Duenna)
lyric-comic opera in four acts, nice scenes


Giacomo Puccini
La boheme
opera in four acts


Modest Musorgsky
Boris Godunov
opera in seven acts (original 1869 version)
Production by Victor Kramer (2002)

Modest Musorgsky
Boris Godunov
opera in four acts with a prologue (version of 1872)
Production: Andrei Tarkovsky (1983)

Georges Bizet
Carmen
opera in four acts


Domenico Cimarosa
La Cleopatra
(concert performance)
opera in two acts


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Cosi fan tutte
drama giocoso in two acts


Hector Berlioz
La Damnation de Faust
dramatic legend for soloists, chorus and orchestra


Anton Rubinstein
The Demon
fantastic opera in three acts


Henry Purcell
Dido and Aeneas
(concert performance)
opera in three acts, four scenes


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Don Giovanni
dramma giocoso in two acts


Giuseppe Verdi
Don Carlo
opera in four acts



Don Pasquale
opera buffa in three acts (concert performance)


Richard Strauss
Elektra
opera in one act


Rodion Shchedrin
Enchanted Wandere
concert opera for three solo voices, chorus and orchestra (2002)


Pyotr Tchaikovsky
The Enchantress
opera in four acts


Pyotr Tchaikovsky
Eugene Onegin
lyric opera in three acts, seven scenes
Production by Yuri Temirkanov (1982)

Pyotr Tchaikovsky
Eugene Onegin
lyric opera in three acts, seven scenes
Production by Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier (2002)

Giuseppe Verdi
Falstaff
opera in three acts and six scenes


Sergey Prokofiev
The Fiery Angel
opera in five acts


Giuseppe Verdi
La forza del destino
opera in four acts


Sergey Prokofiev
The Gambler
opera in four acts and six scenes


Giacomo Puccini
Gianni Schicchi
opera in one act


Richard Wagner
Gotterdammerung
the third day of the tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen
in three acts with prologue


Pyotr Tchaikovsky
Iolanthe
(concert performance)
opera in one act


Leos Janacek
Jenufa
opera in a three acts


Dmitry Shostakovich (1963 version)
Katerina Ismailova
opera in four acts, nine scenes


Modest Musorgsky
Khovanshchina
national musical drama in five acts, six scenes (1960 Production)


Dmitry Shostakovich (1932 version)
Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk
opera in four acts, nine scenes


Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maiden Fevroniya
opera in four acts


Gaetano Donizetti
L`elisir d`amore
(concert performance)
opera in two acts


Mikhail Glinka
A life for the Tsar
opera in four acts with an epilogue


Richard Wagner
Lohengrin
romantic opera in three acts


Sergey Prokofiev
The Love for Three Oranges
opera in a prologue and four acts


Gaetano Donizetti
Lucia di Lammermoor
opera in three acts


Giuseppe Verdi
Macbeth
opera in four acts


Giacomo Puccini
Madama Butterfly
japanese tragedy in three acts


Pyotr Tchaikovsky
Mazepa
opera in three acts, six scenes (1950 Production)


Pyotr Tchaikovsky
Mazepa
opera in three acts, six scenes


Giuseppe Verdi
Nabucco
opera in four acts


Vincenzo Bellini
Norma
(concert performance)
tragedia lirica in two acts, five scenes


Dmitry Shostakovich
The Nose
opera in three acts and ten scenes


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Le nozze di Figaro
opera buffa in four acts


Igor Stravinsky
Oedipus Rex
opera-oratorio in two acts


Christoph Willibald von Gluck
Orfeo et Euridice
(concert performance)
opera in three acts


Giuseppe Verdi
Otello
opera in four acts
Production by Vasily Barkhatov (2007)

Giuseppe Verdi
Otello
opera in four acts
Production by Yuri Alexandrov (2001)

Ruggero Leoncavallo
I pagliacci
opera in two acts with a prologue


Richard Wagner
Parsifal
stage consecration festival drama in three acts


Alexander Borodin
Prince Igor
opera in three acts with a prologue (1954 Production)


Pyotr Tchaikovsky
The Queen of Spades
opera in three acts, seven scenes
Production by Alexander Galibin (1999)

Pyotr Tchaikovsky
The Queen of Spades
opera in three acts, seven scenes
Production by Yuri Temirkanov (1984)

Richard Wagner
Das Rheingold
the preliminary evening of the tetralogy
Der Ring des Nibelungen in four scenes
Production by Johannes Schaaf


Richard Wagner
Das Rheingold
the preliminary evening of the tetralogy
Der Ring des Nibelungen in four scenes
Production concept: Valery Gergiev and George Tsypin (2003)


Giuseppe Verdi
Rigoletto
opera in three acts


Richard Wagner
Der Ring des Nibelungen
tetralogy


Igor Stravinsky
Le Rossignol
conte lyrique in three acts


Mikhail Glinka
Ruslan and Lyudmila
opera in five acts


Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Sadko
opera-bylina in seven scenes


Richard Strauss
Salome
musical dramma in one act


Camille Saint-Saens
Samson et Dalila
opera in three acts (four tableaux)


Sergey Prokofiev
Semyon Kotko
opera in five acts, seven scenes


Richard Wagner
Siegfried
the second day of the tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen in three act


Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
The Snow Maiden
springtime tale in a prologue and four acts


Sergey Prokofiev
The Story of a Real Man
(concert performance)
opera in three acts and ten scenes


Giacomo Puccini
Suor Angelica
opera in one act


Giacomo Puccini
Il tabarro
opera in one act


Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
The Tale of Tsar Saltan
opera in a prologue and four acts


Giacomo Puccini
Tosca
opera in three acts


Giuseppe Verdi
La traviata
opera in three acts, four scenes


Richard Wagner
Tristan und Isolde
drama in three acts


Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
The Tsar's Bride
opera in four acts


Francesco Araia
Tsefal i Prokris
(concert performance)
opera in three acts


Giacomo Puccini
Turandot
lyric drama in three acts and five scenes


Benjamin Britten
The Turn of the Screw
opera in two acts with a prologue


Gioachino Rossini
Il viaggio a Reims, ossia L`albergo del giglio d`oro
dramma giocoso in one act


Richard Wagner
Die Walkure
the first day of the tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen in three acts
Director, Designer and Author of the Light Concept: Gottfried Pilz (2001)


Richard Wagner
Die Walkure
the first day of the tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen in three acts
Production concept: Valery Gergiev and George Tsypin (2003)


Sergey Prokofiev
War and Peace
opera in two acts (2000 Production)


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Die Zauberflote
opera in two acts (concert performance)


 

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