Press-releases of 220 season


  • For Work and the Fatherland

  • Sofia Gubaidulina at the Stars of the White Nights

  • To Russia with love - from Wales

  • Tributes to Rubinstein and Stravinsky

  • The Mariinsky Theatre on Tour in Berlin

  • The Ballet de l'Opera National de Bordeaux

  • John Neumeier's Hamburg Ballet at the Mariinsky Theatre

  • Information Bulletin

  • Grand Waltz in Pavlovsk

  • The Heart of the Netherlands at the Mariinsky Theatre

  • Christoph Eschenbach - Wagnerian Conductor

  • A Day for Lovers at the Mariinsky Theatre

  • The exhibition The Mariinsky Theatre. 1783-2003. Theme and Variations

  • Stars at the Stars

  • The Mariinsky Theatre. 1783-2003.Theme and Variations

  • For the first time ever in St Petersburg, Zubin Mehta will be conducting a concert by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra

  • Concert by the Sinfonietta Cracovia

  • Gala Concert in Honour of Olga Moiseyeva

  • As part of the Stars of the White Nights will be a performance of The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maid Fevronia

  • XI Stars of the White Nights International Festival of Arts

  • The Easter Festival

  • Oedipus Rex will performed at the Mariinsky Theatre

  • Concerts in Mariinsky Theatre

  • The Mariinsky Theatre Tours to Graz

  • III International Ballet Festival Mariinsky

  • The World Premiere of the Ballet Princess Pirlipat, or Worthiness Punished

  • The First Ever Performance of Norma at the Mariinsky Theatre

  • Grammy Nominations for the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra and Chorus

  • The complete Ring des Nibelungen tetralogy at the Mariinsky Theatre

  • La traviata Returns

  • December Premieres at the Mariinsky Theatre

  • Natalia Mikhailovna Dudinskaya's Birthday Celebrations at the Mariinsky Theatre

  • The 50th, 220th and 300th at the Mariinsky Theatre...

  • The Festival Stars of the White Nights keeps going


    For Work and the Fatherland

    Valery Gergiev has been presented with Russia's highest public award - the prize For Work and the Fatherland.

    The competition to present Russia's highest public award, the prize For Work and the Fatherland, aims to embody care and attention to the future. One of the main aims of the competition is the establishment of business links between businesspeople in Moscow, Russia, the CIS and foreign countries, familiarisation with interesting investment proposals and showcasing the most worthy representatives of industry, science, the arts and sport who have achieved the most outstanding results in their work.

    A multi-volume almanac called Moscow, the Capital is printed, listing the best businesses, institutes, museums and medical and educational bodies. This almanac serves as Moscow's calling card as a harmoniously developing city, a city created by great people who remember ancient customs and who love their capital. The succession between generations must be preserved - young people should know the great people of their time, and see how they compare. This also solves a task of great importance to the State - instilling a sense of patriotism for one's homeland.

    One and a half thousand copies of the almanac Moscow, the Capital will be sent to the UN, governments of the world's leading nations, Academies of Science, Ministers and heads of State Departments, the leading foreign investment banks and corporations, influential media organisations and information agencies and national libraries all over the world.

    The founding of the Russian For Work and the Fatherland prize will serve to revive the best traditions of awards for devoted service to the Russian State under the motto Honour before Gain. This noble act is a result of joint efforts between legislative bodies, the executive, scientific, cultural, political and financial structures and public bodies. The Expert Drafting Committee of the competition is composed of representatives from the Council of the Federation, the State Duma, The Russian Academy of Science, the Moscow Mayor's Office, the Moscow City Duma, the Russian Chamber of Trade and Industry, the Federation of Independent Trade Unions, the Academy of Finance of the Government of the Russian Federation, public figures, heads off major business structures, the leading media and prominent figures from the arts, culture and sport.

    The Moscow city government issued the special order No 1336-RP, dated 10th September 2002, and devoted a meeting on 21st January 2003 to discussing competition events for the presentation of the Russian prize For Work and the Fatherland. The competition and the publication of the almanac Moscow, the Capital have received the blessing of Patriarch Alexei II.

    Material from www.mosinform.ru

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    Sofia Gubaidulina at the Stars of the White Nights

    On 5th June as part of the Stars of the White Nights festival, Valery Gergiev will be conducting the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra and Chorus in a rendition of Sofia Gubaidulina's St John's Passion and Easter Oratorio at Smolny Cathedral.

    Sofia Gubaidulina is one of the most renowned musicians of our time. She has been called one of the greatest composers of the latter half of the 20th century. There was a time, however, when her name and her work was forbidden in Russia, a time when, along with two other outstanding composers who died recently - Edison Denisov and Alfred Schnittke - she was criticised for her 'modernistic passions' by influential Communist party newspapers. Thankfully those dark days have long since passed for Sofia Gubaidulina, and her works are now performed across the globe.

    Last year, Sofia Gubaidulina received the prize of the Swedish Academy of Music, also known as the Nobel Prize for Music. Other recipients of this award include musicians that the jury considers 'to have brought down international barriers between various musical genres'.

    International fame first visited Gubaidulina in the early 1980s with her Offertorium, a concerto for violin and orchestra dedicated to Gidon Kremer. Since 1992, she has lived and worked in Appen-Unterglied near Hamburg in Germany. 'I feel at home here,' she says, 'I prefer life in a village to life in Moscow. An artist cannot live on negative emotions alone, otherwise he will pass these on to others.' Gubaidulina has a long history connected with the Sokirsky publishing house in Hamburg, where staff look after her and her close friend and neighbour, the composer Viktor Suslin, helping with any problems they encounter. Sofia Gubaidulina has retained her Russian nationality.

    She has written over one hundred symphonic works including the vast 90 minute long St John's Passion, which was commissioned by the Bach Academy in Stuttgart as part of the grandiose Passion-2000 project to coincide with the 250th anniversary of Johan Sebastian Bach's death. The Passions of the four Evangelists - Luke, Mark, Matthew and John - were commissioned from four different composers from different countries. Sofia Gubaidulina composed her work based on the Russian translation of the text, although the tradition of the Passions, a musical narrative of the last days of Christ's life, have never been part of the Russian Orthodox tradition.

    Gubaidulina says 'When I received the commission, I immediately laid down one condition - to write the Passion according to St John. The reason being that Jesus as described by St John is closest to me. St John's Passion is my Passion too'. The world premiere of St John's Passion took place in Stuttgartp. The Easter Oratorio is being performed in St Petersburg for the first time. The work is a large diptych comprising St John's Passion and The Resurrection According to St John. 'With regard to my concept, St John's Passion is a work in its own right and can be performed separately in one concert, just like the entire diptych. It is impossible to separate the Resurrection from the idea as a whole. Although it is the second part of the diptych, I nonetheless composed the Resurrection first when I was working on the text and the music. That has been my artistic stance for a long time now: I find it impossible to imagine the concept of a work without understanding what its ending will be'.

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    To Russia with love - from Wales

    Mariinsky Prima Ballerina Uliana Lopatkina recently accepted the beautiful key that will unlock the doors of Wales Millennium Centre, a new international centre for performing arts currently under construction in Cardiff UK.

    The Wales Millennium Centre is undoubtedly the most vibrant arts development in Europe today, providing not only a new world class stage for full scale ballet, opera, musical theatre and dance, but also a home and production base for seven diverse arts companies including the internationally acclaimed Welsh National Opera.

    When the Centre opens on 26 November this year, the key will be used to unlock the doors, but before that it is journeying across the globe, being passed from hand to hand - those of leading artists, politicians, performers, schoolchildren and the general public.

    Judith Isherwood, the Centre's Chief Executive is visiting St Petersburg for the Mariinsky Ballet Festival and to finalise negotiations for the Mariinsky to perform at Wales Millennium Centre in April 2005. She said Valery Gergiev first visited the site of Wales Millennium Centre some two years ago and committed then to bringing the Mariinsky Ballet to Wales during the Centre's first year of opening. The company is renowned for the excellence of its dancers and productions across the world, and I hope that their time with us will lay strong foundations for a lasting relationship between the Mariinsky and our Welsh audiences that we will develop over the coming years. The Company will perform during the Wales Millennium Centre's opening year, performing two full ballets and one triple bill. Uliana Lopatkina and other stars of the Mariinsky, including Diana Vishneva, Igor Zelensky, Daria Pavlenko and Leonid Sarafanov will lead the Company for this important residency. In receiving the key Miss Lopatkina said It is wonderful that the world is to have a new international stage for ballet. I am looking forward to visiting Wales and dancing at the Wales Millennium Centre in April next year.

    During the coming months, the key will journey to New York, Salzburg in Austria, Italy, South Africa, Japan and New South Wales in Australia before returning to Cardiff Bay on 26 November in readiness for the Centre's opening. For further information about Wales Millennium Centre, please go to www.wmc.org.uk

    o Wales Millennium Centre is the new international centre for performing arts currently under construction on Cardiff Bay Waterfront. It is undoubtedly the most exciting cultural initiative happening in Europe today. Not only will it be an international receiving house for opera, ballet, dance and musicals, it will also house under one roof seven diverse and exciting cultural organisations. When the Centre opens on 26 November 2004, it will quickly establish itself as one of the world's leading performing arts venues.

    o Wales Millennium Centre is supported with a grant of up to '37 million from the Welsh Assembly Government, a '30.7 million Lottery grant from the Millennium Commission and a '9.8 million grant from the Arts Council of Wales Capital Lottery Fund.

    o Uliana Lopatkina

    Uliana Lopatkina is prima ballerina of the Mariinsky (Kirov) Ballet and one of the most acclaimed ballerinas in the world today. She was born in the Crimea, and received her early ballet training there. She was accepted into the prestigious Vaganova Academy of Ballet in Leningrad (St Petersburg) at the age of nine and graduated with honours in 1991 to join the prestigious Mariinsky (Kirov) Ballet. In 1995 Uliana Lopatkina was made a Principal Ballerina of the Company.

    Miss Lopatkina, one of the world's most elegant ballerinas, is the recipient of many honours, international awards and prizes for her artistry and her international appearances have been extensive; she has performed in Japan, the United States, South America, and throughout Europe.

    Her varied repertoire includes Swan Lake, La Bayadere, Le Corsaire, Scheherazade, Raymonda and, most recently, choreography by William Forsythe.

    o The key has been hand crafted by Welsh artist Anne-Catrin Evans.

    o The WMC Key began its global journey from Cardiff Bay on 27 March. It was taken on the first leg of its overseas journey by Welsh Assembly First Minister Rhodri Morgan to Paris for the St David's day festivities on March 1. There he handed it over to international bass-baritone Gidon Saks.

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    Tributes to Rubinstein and Stravinsky

    Anton Rubinstein's opera The Demon and the ballets Les Noces and Le Sacre du printemps to music by Igor Stravinsky mark the start of the June premieres as part of the Stars of the White Nights festival.

    On 6th June, the Mariinsky Theatre will be staging the work that was first shown at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris as part of one of the Saisons russes. Valery Gergiev is the Musical Director and Conductor, the Production Director is Lev Dovin, the Set Designer is David Borovsky, the Costume Designer is Chloe Obolensky and the Lighting Designer is Jean Kalman. It is a co-production with the Théâtre du Châtelet.

    Lermontov's poem was forbidden in Russia up until 1860, though the subject enjoyed unusual popularity from the next decade until the mid 1880s among contemporaries of Anton Rubinstein, including Napravnik (who wrote a symphony), Blaramberg (musical tableau) and Fitingof-Shel (opera).

    Rubinstein's opera with a prologue, three acts and apotheosis to a libretto by Pavel Alexandrovich Viskovatov after Lermontov's poem was first performed at the Mariinsky Theatre on 13th/25th January 1875. Among those performing the premiere were Ivan Melnikov (the Demon), Osip Petrov (Gudal), Vilhelmina Raab (Tamara) and Fyodor Komisarzhevsky (Sinodal). It was revived at the theatre by N. Gladkovsky in 1939, by the conductor D. Pokhitonov in 1949 and by Yu. Gamalei in 1964.

    The cast of the new production includes Tatiana Pavlovskaya, Natalia Yevstafieva, Yevgeny Nikitin, Gennady Bezzubenkov, Yevgeny Akimov and Mikhail Petrenko. On 9th June as part of the Tribute to Stravinsky, along with the theatre's recently premiered opera oratorio Oedipus Rex, the ballets Les Noces and Le Sacre du printemps with choreography by Bronislava and Vaslav Nijinsky will be performed for the first time ever at the Mariinsky Theatre.

    The revival of Vaslav Nijinsky's Sacre du printemps with sets by Nikolai Roerich (1913) has been supervised by choreographer Millicent Hodson and designer Kenneth Archer; ballet master Howard Sayette is responsible for the reconstruction of Bronislava Nijinska's Les Noces (1923).

    Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer say that 'While working on the production, we did a great deal of detective work: we found the rehearsal score from 1913, we found the costumes, and the ones which we couldn't find we revived from sketches. From all these materials, we have been able to restore the ballet. Sometimes our task was something akin to archaeology. It was as if we were digging to find relics from a forgotten age, but one of great beauty.

    'Now the ballet has a new history, one well known in the west. But the tradition of Diaghilev's Ballet russe has remained too. It is both gratifying and unnerving that people in Russia want to see this. Le Sacre du printemps is one of the most popular ballets of its kind. It is of no mean significance that it has returned to this theatre, and that dancers at the Mariinsky Theatre will be able to dance the ballet that Nijinsky created for artists of his own generation. For us it is important and unnerving to give them such a chance'.

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    The Mariinsky Theatre on Tour in Berlin

    Dmitry Shostakovich's opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk opens the Mariinsky Theatre's tour at Berlin's Deutsche Oper on 28th October. The tour programme lists three performances and one concert, representing important landmarks in Russian musical culture - Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Prokofiev's Fiery Angel, as well as Prokofiev's cantata For the 20th Anniversary of the October Revolution and Shostakovich's Fourth Symphony. Both the operas and the concert will be conducted by Valery Gergiev. For its production of Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, the Mariinsky Theatre chose the first version of the opera, premiered in Leningrad in 1934. Because of the bitter criticism of Shostakovich's masterpiece two years later in the Pravda article Muddle Instead of Music, the opera was subsequently not performed for a lengthy period. Marking the one time in his life when he abandoned his principle of never rewriting anything, the composer created a new version of the opera in 1956, altering the libretto and adding two symphonic entr'actes. Even this new version, however, did not pass the censor immediately. On the Berlin tour, the lead roles will be performed by Olga Sergeyeva, Irina Loskutova, Sergei Alexashkin, Gennady Bezzubenkov, Oleg Balashov, Leonid Zakhozhaev and others. While Sergei Prokofiev's Fiery Angel was composed in the USA, Germany and France and was premiered in Venice, the opera was never performed in Soviet Russia. When the Mariinsky Theatre decided to stage the work in 1991, the result was basically a 'homecoming' to the Russian stage for this great opera by Prokofiev, whose music is permeated with the moods of that era of great tragedy. On tour, the main roles will be sung by Olga Sergeyeva, Yevgeny Nikitin and others. Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin has been staged numerous times at the Mariinsky/Kirov Theatre. The new production is notable for the fact that the French directors Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier remained true to Tchaikovsky and, following the axiom of a remark in a letter by the composer that the opera should be performed by young performers and students of the Conservatoire, they worked with soloists from the Mariinsky Academy of Young Singers - singers the same age as the characters they interpret. Hence the special, lyrical, sincere and vivacious tone of the new production, which perfectly matches the spirit of the opera. At the Deutsche Oper, the lead roles will be sung by Svetlana Volkova, Irina Mataeva, Yekaterina Semenchuk, Vladimir Moroz, Mikhail Kit, Daniil Shtoda and others.

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    The Ballet de l'Opera National de Bordeaux

    1st and 2nd November will see the Ballet de l'Opera National de Bordeaux performing on tour at the Mariinsky Theatre. The company will be coming to St Petersburg for the first time since it was founded over two hundred years ago. The names of ballet's reformers - Jean Dauberval, student of the renowned Jean Georges Noverre, and Marius Petipa - are closely linked with the ballet company of the Opera National de Bordeaux.

    For its first visit to St Petersburg, the company, since 1996 headed by Charles Jude, a student of Lifar and Nureyev, will be bringing a unique retrospective programme depicting the development of the French ballet school in the 20th century, from the Saisons Russes to the present day.

    The programme for the tour includes Serge Lifar's Suite en blanc, Thierry Malandain's Sextet, a duet from Ivan Favier's ballet Febrile and Jacques Garnier's Aunis. For St Petersburg's ballet-lovers, the highlight will undoubtedly be Suite en blanc by Lifar, the dancer and choreographer who became the Saisons Russes' last great ballet dancer and later - from 1930 to 1968 - head of the Opera de Paris.

    Other titles listed in the programme will prove no less interesting. Sextet by Thierry Malandain, the French choreographer and founder and Director of the virtuoso company of the Centre Choregraphique National-Ballet Biarritz, recreates the atmosphere of Degas' Danseuses: harmonious classical ballet emerges from romantic disorder.

    Jacques Garnier's chamber ballet Aunis is an anthem to the discovery of heaven - one body joyfully surrendering itself to the power of the music. Garnier is one of those choreographers who has done much to develop and distinguish modern dance in France.

    Febrile, by experimentalist choreographer Ivan Favier, portrays a nervous, suffering, cruel and passionate body of dancers, a shameful discovery of one's own reflection in someone else.

    As Director of the Ballet de l'Opera National de Bordeaux, Charles Jude has made it his task to restore a classical repertoire to the company. Now the company's playbills list productions not just by leading contemporary American, Dutch, British and French choreographers, but also Marius Petipa's Sleeping Beauty, Raymonda and The Nutcracker, as well as versions of Giselle, Coppelia and Don Quixote to name but a few of the ballets making up the classical repertoire.

    The tour has been co-organised by the Ministere de la Culture de la France, the Conseil Regional d'Aquitaine, the Mairie de Bordeaux and the Institut Francais de Saint-Petersbourg
    The Opera National de Bordeaux is sponsored by the Chateau Haut-Bailly and the Groupe Duclot

    The tour has been made possible thanks to support from
    Lesaffre, Academservice and the Sovietskaya Hote

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    John Neumeier's Hamburg Ballet at the Mariinsky Theatre

    John Neumeier's Hamburg Ballet, London's Royal Ballet and New York City Ballet, three of the world's leading ballet companies, will be performing here in July as part of the Stars of the White Nights festival. John Neumeier's company will open this ballet marathon on 8th July.,P. The Hamburg Ballet has been to Leningrad twice before - once in 1981 to the Maly Opera Theatre and once in 1990 to the Kirov Theatre. In 2001, John Neumeier brought two of his ballets - Spring and Fall and Now and Then - to the Mariinsky Theatre, as well as creating Sounds of Empty Pages/i[ for Mariinsky Ballet soloists to music by Alfred Schnittke.

    In this centenary year, the Hamburg Ballet will be performing in St Petersburg at the Mariinsky Theatre for the first time with two ballets linked to Russian culture.

    His ballet from 2000 Nijinsky about 'the god of dance' Vaslav Nijinsky will start the tour. For Neumeier, Nijinsky began twenty years ago with a chamber ballet called Vaslav, which appeared almost by chance at a gala concert at the end of the Fifth Hamburg Ballet-Tage, which was dedicated to Serge Diaghilev. Over the next decades, the ballet was created step by step, movement by movement, scene by scene. Nijinsky came to be an inexhaustible theme for Neumeier, the triumphant finale being presented at the premiere in 2000. Neumeier presents the great dancer precisely as a living god of dance. The main theme is Nijinsky's split personality in his own mind and in Romola's imagination, and her transformation into the Nymph and Scheherazade and his into the Faun and the Golden Slave when Diaghilev-Shahriyar is away. The biographical plot of the ballet is set to music by Schumann and Shostakovich and the recollections of the dancer's roles to motifs from Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade and Chopin's Prelude No.20. The magnificent set designs and costumes together with the combinations of costume sketches by Bakst and Benois for Diaghilev's ballets help us feel Nijinsky's era. The main event in Nijinsky's life - war - becomes a leitmotif in the ballet, with characters from his ballets making appearances - the Spirit of the Rose, the Faun and the Golden Slave. While awaiting the end of the war and his return to Russia, Nijinsky performs his famous last dance on a velvet cross. The war, like something alien to human nature, like a force that destroys all life, is represented in the ballet by music by Dmitry Shostakovich.

    The amazing energy of the dancers from all over the world that make up the Hamburg Ballet come from the world's leading schools. There is Anna Polikarpova representing the Vaganova School, unusually expressive in her portrayal of Romola Nijinsky's eternal nature and her loneliness, tormented by Nijinsky and Diaghilev's relationship, Ivan Urbin as Diaghilev, Alexander Riabko as the Spirit of the Rose and Jiri Bubenicek as Nijinsky.

    The tour will continue with The Seagul (2002), one of the company's most recent premieres, based on motifs from Chekhov's drama. Neumeier dreamed of staging a ballet to one of Chekhov's plays since his student days. For him, Chekhov's plays are 'emotions that can be expressed through dance'. The Hamburg Ballet will conclude its performances at the Mariinsky Theatre on 15th July with the legendary ballet from 1978 La Dame aux camellias, which Neumeier initially created for Marcia Haydee and the Stuttgart Ballet.

    The era of the Hamburg Ballet began in 1973 when John Neumeier was appointed Ballet Director and Chief Choreographer of the company. In 1996, he was made Artistic Director. Since then the company has become one of the most renowned dance companies both in Germany and abroad, with many of its dancers receiving prizes at German and international competitions.

    The company's wide repertoire encompasses modern dance while retaining a respect for the traditions of classical ballet, as can be seen in modern versions of historical action and fairy-tale ballets such as The Nutcracker, Illusions - Like Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty and Giselle. In his new works, John Neumeier seeks out story-telling forms, as in Artus-Sage, La Dame aux camellias and A Streetcar named Desire. He took a somewhat similar approach to Homer's Odyssey[],/i Ibsen's Peer Gynt and Chekhov's Seagull as well as for his deeply personal choreographic portrait Nijinsky. The Hamburg Ballet won world-wide recognition thanks to John Neumeier's choreography to Mahler's symphonies and religious music including Bach's St Matthew Passion and Magnificat, Mozart's Requiem and Handel's Messiah. Bernstein's West Side Story, On the Town and Bernstein Dances became some of Neumeier's most important ballets. Many of the world's leading choreographers have worked with the company, among them Mats Ek, Maurice Bejart and Christopher Wheeldon. Apart from John Neumeier's works, the Hamburg Ballet repertoire includes ballets by George Balanchine, Jose Limon, Leonid Jacobson, John Cranko, Antony Tudor, William Forsythe, Jiri Kylian and Natalia Makarova. The company also has an excellent touring reputation, earning it the epithet of German Cultural Ambassador. The company regularly holds workshops. The end of each season is marked by the traditional Hamburg Ballet Days which show the season's best productions and which culminate in the Nijinsky-Gala. 1989 saw the opening of the Ballettzentrum Hamburg - John Neumeier, a complex housing various studios, the school, and a boarding school.

    Next season, Hamburg Ballet will be celebrating its thirtieth anniversary.

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    Information Bulletin

    Under the direction of Valery Gergiev, the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra is beginning its tour of the USA. The ensemble will be performing in New York, with Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra opening Carnegie Hall's 113th season on 1st October. The Orchestra will be performing several concerts in the renowned venue, where the inaugural performance was conducted by Tchaikovsky himself. The performances will include works by Tchaikovsky, Wagner, Lalo, Rimsky-Korsakov and Shostakovich.

    Maestro Valery Gergiev will also be conducting Verdi's Traviata with Renee Fleming and Dmitry Hvorostovsky on 29th September to mark the opening of the Metropolitan Opera's new season.

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    Grand Waltz in Pavlovsk

    The St Petersburg Administration Culture Committee, the Pavlovsk State Museum and National Park, the State Academic Mariinsky Theatre, the State Hermitage Museum and the Russian Institute of the History of Arts have organised the Grand Waltz in Pavlovsk music festival, which will see a series of concerts held in the Rose Pavilion of the Pavlovsk State Museum and National Park from 5th June, culminating in a gala concert on 13th July in the Great Hall of the St Petersburg Philharmonic. Yulia Kantor is the Artistic Director of the festival and the inspiration behind the idea.

    Among those taking part in the festival are Mariinsky Theatre soloists Anna Netrebko and Elena Mirtova, soloists of the Mariinsky Academy of Young Singers, violinist Sergei Stadler and many symphony ensembles including the Mariinsky Theatre Young Philharmonic Orchestra, the Russian Brass Quintet, the Quatrobass double bass orchestra, the Admiralty brass band and the St Petersburg University Youth Chamber Orchestra. The festival's guest of honour will be Johann Strauss' descendant Eduard Strauss, Director of the Wiener Institut fur Strauss-Forschung.

    The festival will recreate the music traditions of Pavlovsk, a suburb of St Petersburg, renowned all over the world for its Musical Railway Station. The Pavlovsk railway station building, erected in the palace park in the mid 19th century by the architect Andrei Shtakenshneider, was envisaged not merely as a place to buy tickets and wait for trains. There was a restaurant, a park with fountains and a large concert hall that could hold an audience of over one hundred. Johann Strauss conducted here in the summers between 1856 and 1866. Fyodor Chaliapin, Anastasia Vyaltseva and Ivan Yershov all sang here. The music evenings in the concert hall continued over one hundred years, and the Pavlovsk concert hall became known as 'Russia's first philharmonic society'.

    At the Inter-Museum 5th All-Russian festival, the Grand Waltz in Pavlovsk festival was recognised as the 'Best Museum Project of the Year' and the Bank of Industry and Construction received a diploma for being the 'Best Sponsor of the Year'. The festival is being run with the support of the State Academic Mariinsky Theatre and the State Hermitage Museum as part of the contract on co-operation signed by Valery Gergiev and Mikhail Piotrovsky on 10th April 2003.

    The first joint project between the Hermitage and the Mariinsky Theatre was the gala concert on Palace Square In Honour of St Petersburg's Tercentenary on 28th May. The festival will see continued co-operation between St Petersburg's two greatest cultural icons. There will be more joint events in the future in Pskov and Great Novgorod.

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    The Heart of the Netherlands at the Mariinsky Theatre

    On 7th and 8th June, this weekend, the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, one of the finest symphony ensembles in Europe, will be performing at the Mariinsky Theatre. Over its 80-year history, the renowned Dutch orchestra has had eight Principal Conductors, the most recent being Valery Gergiev, appointed in 1995. The Orchestra had by then become one of the greatest music ensembles in Europe. Together with Maestro Gergiev, the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra created a new festival (the Rotterdam Philharmonic-Gergiev Festival) and expanded its repertoire with Russian music ranging from Tchaikovsky to Gubaidulina.

    The Orchestra aims to increase its audience by experimenting with the classics and the avant-garde. It thinks nothing of performing matinee concerts with special educational programmes for children, then Stravinsky in the evening at Rotterdam's largest disco. Thanks to its huge popularity both at home and abroad, the Orchestra truly deserves its epithet of 'the musical heart of the Netherlands'.

    Over two days, the Orchestra will be performing a programme of difficult works at the Mariinsky Theatre - Berlioz' Requiem on 7th June and Mahler's Sixth Symphony, Die Tragische, on 8th June.

    Hector Berlioz was commissioned to write his Requiem by the Montalivet government, which had instigated an annual funeral service to commemorate victims of the Revolution of July 1830. Berlioz received the commission enthusiastically, having long dreamed of his music being performed by a staggering five or six hundred performers. Work lasted about three months. Despite the fears of Louis-Philippe's government regarding the huge crowd, the funeral mass was held on 5th December 1837 at the Hôtel des Invalides, drawing 'all Paris'. The Requiem was performed by 420 people. Berlioz put a high value on this work throughout his life: 'If all but one of my works were to be destroyed, I would beg for mercy on the Messe des morts'.

    On 8th June at 13:00, the Orchestra will be performing Mahler's Tragische Symphony. The great composer decided to let the music of the symphony speak for itself, with its prologue, subject and finale. Mahler never spoke about the content of his symphony. The outstanding conductor Willem Mengelberg, one of the best interpreters of Mahler's works, wrote of the Sixth: 'It contains a stunning drama in sound, a titanic struggle by a hero perishing in a dreadful catastrophe'.

    As part of the Stars of the White Nights programme, the world's leading orchestras will be performing Mahler's music, and fans of Requiems will be treated to performances of works in the genre by Verdi, Brahms and Berlioz.

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    Christoph Eschenbach - Wagnerian Conductor

    On 8th June as part of the Stars of the White Nights festival, Christoph Eschenbach will be conducting Richard Wagner's opera Parsifal.

    Christoph Eschenbach began his musical career as a pianist. At age eleven, he won the Steinway young pianists' competition. Later, having achieved world renown as a pianist, Eschenbach began to devote more and more attention to conducting. Having made his US debut as a soloist with the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell, he studied conducting with the great maestro until Szell's death. The eleven years he spent directing the Houston Symphony Orchestra (1988-1999) proved decisive in Eschenbach's career. Although Eschenbach was already Principal Guest Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra and Director of the Tonhalle in Zurich by the late 1980s, he was still mostly known as a pianist.

    Christoph Eschenbach is currently one of few musicians who are equally well known as a pianist and a conductor - his great talent and skill allow him to perform in either capacity. He continues to direct the Chicago Ravinia Festival and the NDR Orchestra in Hamburg, and last year he directed the Schleswig-Holstein Festival. Recently he made his debut at the Bayreuth Festival (Parsifal), and was appointed Musical Director of the Orchestre De Paris.

    Wagner's last opera concerns one of the most mystical and popular subjects of the Middle Ages about the Holy Grail. In the late 12th and early 13th centuries, several poems were written about Parsifal - by the French poet Cretien de Troyes, the Norman Robert de Boron and the German Wolfram von Eschenbach. Wagner's libretto is based on Eschenbach's poem. Wagner took forty years to approach his last work: in 1841 he discovered the poem and started work on the libretto in 1857 and the music in 1877. The orchestration took three years and was complete exactly one year before the composer's death.

    The Mariinsky Theatre's 1997 production of Parsifal, directed by Tony Palmer, was the first production of the opera in Russia for many years. Because of the thirty-year ban on the work, which was premiered in Bayreuth in 1882 and performed there exclusively throughout that period, it was staged for the first time in Russia only in 1913 at the Grand House of the Nations in St Petersburg, and in 1914 at the St Petersburg Theatre of Musical Drama. Parsifal then disappeared from Russian theatres for a lengthy period. On 11th May 1997, the opera was performed at the Mariinsky Theatre for the first time under the baton of Valery Gergiev.

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    A Day for Lovers at the Mariinsky Theatre

    On 1st June, the XI Stars of the White Nights international festival will be presenting a musical 'Shakespeariana' with Olga Borodina, Ildar Abdrazakov, Andrian Fadeyev and other Mariinsky Theatre opera and ballet soloists as well as the Chorus and Orchestra. Valery Gergiev will be conducting.

    Over the course of the day, the story of the two lovers from Verona will be presented through Sergei Prokofiev's ballet, Hector Berlioz' dramatic symphony and Pyotr Tchaikovsky's fantasy-overture.

    Prokofiev's ballet Romeo and Juliet was premiered on 11th January 1940 at the Kirov Theatre. An ecstasy of life and restrained lyricism - that was how Sergei Prokofiev described his music. Choreographed by Leonid Lavrovsky, the title roles in the premiere of the ballet were performed by Galina Ulanova and Konstantin Sergeyev.

    On 1st June, Andrian Fadeyev will be dancing as Romeo and Yevgenia Obraztsova will be making her debut in the role of Juliet. The performance begins at 12:30.

    The evening concert will see performances of symphony music. Berlioz became fascinated with the subject of Romeo and Juliet after seeing a performance of the play by an English company. Juliet was played by Henrietta Smithson, with whom the composer fell in love. During a trip to Italy, Berlioz sketched out a plan for a work on the subject. In 1838, at the height of his success and already married to Henrietta Smithson, the composer returned to the idea and, over eight months, wrote a vast score for symphony orchestra, three choruses and three soloists. The work was premiered after two months of rehearsals with a huge orchestra (160 musicians), chorus (98 singers) and soloists of the Opera de Paris on 24th November 1939 with Berlioz himself conducting.

    Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet fantasy-overture belongs among the composer's greatest achievements. Shakespeare's tragedy was one of his favourite works. The idea to use it as a basis for a symphonic composition, however, belongs to Mily Balakirev, who not only had the idea, but also gave detailed recommendations concerning the thematic material, tonal plan and composition of the burgeoning work. Tchaikovsky tried to adhere to them while remaining true to his own principles of composition. He wrote three versions of the overture (1869, 1870 and 1880). The first performance of Romeo and Juliet took place in Moscow on 4th March 1870 under the baton of Nikolai Rubinstein. Romeo and Juliet was the first of Tchaikovsky's symphonic works to be performed at symphony music venues in France and Germany. It was with great difficulty that the overture won the admiration of audiences both in Russia and abroad because of its unusual, innovative style. Romeo and Juliet remained, however, one of the composer's favourite works.
    The evening concert begins at 20:00.

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    The exhibition The Mariinsky Theatre. 1783-2003. Theme and Variations

    There was a grand ceremony on 23rd May at the Marble Palace to mark the opening of the exhibition The Mariinsky Theatre. 1783-2003. Theme and Variations. The exhibition has been organised by the State Russian Museum together with the State Academic Mariinsky Theatre and the St Petersburg State Museum of Theatre and Music. The exhibition includes about 700 exhibits. They include a 19th century style Mariinsky Theatre revolving stage model, historical items from the theatre (costumes from the wardrobes of the former Imperial Theatres, sketches for sets, props, theatre models, scores, photographs and paintings), actual items from modern stage design, the stage history of opera and ballet masterpieces at the legendary Mariinsky Theatre, Tchaikovsky's baton and an autographed copy of his score for The Nutcracker. Taglione, Kshesinskaya, Karsavina, Pavlova and Vaganova's pointe slippers will be on display. Valery Gergiev, Artistic and General Director of the Mariinsky Theatre, Vladimir Gusev, Director of the Russian Museum, Mikhail Shvydkoi, Minister of Culture, and Mikhail Piotrovsky, Director of the State Hermitage, attended the opening of the exhibition
    Several halls of the Marble Palace were also reopened after restoration work, as were the gates onto Palace Embankment, for the first time since 1937.

    The first of the titled guests to arrive at the Marble Palace was the legendary ballerina Marina Semenova, a pupil of Agrippina Vaganova. Semenova's name is linked with the best traditions of the Soviet ballet school.
    Before the doors of the Marble Palace opened to visitors, Valery Gergiev made a welcoming speech. He congratulated all who were present and thanked the Ministry of Culture and Mikhail Shvydkoi, Minister of Culture, for their help and support. After the Maestro's speech, the Minister remarked that the opening of the exhibition marked the start of St Petersburg's tercentenary celebrations. Mikhail Shvydkoi said that 'The Russian Museum and the Mariinsky Theatre, two icons of St Petersburg, have come together in one space. This unique place acts like a magnet for everyone who admires beauty and harmony. The history of the Mariinsky Theatre truly is the history of Russian culture, with all its glories, dramas and accomplishments'.

    The halls of the Marble Palace were decorated with luxurious bouquets of roses and chrysanthemums, imported by the Dutch firm Flower World, in honour of St Petersburg's tercentenary. The White Nights chrysanthemums, specially grown for the celebrations, were presented to Valery Gergiev, Artistic Director of the festival.
    The exhibition will run until 27th July.

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    Stars at the Stars

    Throughout the week of the anniversary celebrations, stars of the Mariinsky Opera including Olga Borodina, Larisa Diadkova, Anna Netrebko, Irina Bogacheva, Irina Gordei, Vladimir Vaneyev, Vladimir Ognovenko, Vladimir Galuzin and Vasily Gerello will be performing in operas and concerts as part of the Stars of the White Nights festival.

    On 23rd May at 18.00, there will be a performance of Leonid Baratov's legendary 1960 production of Khovanshchina, revived in 2000, at the Mariinsky Theatre. This production takes as a basis the score as orchestrated by Dmitry Shostakovich especially for the Kirov Theatre. Musorgsky created a universal model of the Russian State system and the Russian mentality, ruled by irresistible passions in a libretto that unites events of two strelets uprisings.

    Verdi's Macbeth will be performed on 24th May at 20.00. This opera was first performed at the Mariinsky Theatre in 2001, officially designated the Year of Giuseppe Verdi by UNESCO. The production, directed by David McVickar and designed by Tanya McCallin, is staged in the 16th century, bringing it as close as possible to the Shakespearean era. Their version of Macbeth is a story of the tragedy of the clash and brutal struggle between truly powerful, ungovernable and savage characters.

    At the Mariinsky Theatre on 25th May at 16.00, Valery Gergiev will be conducting Mahler's Second symphony. The soloists are Olga Borodina and Anna Netrebko. The symphony, in which the composer poses questions about life and death and the meaning and value of life, is also known as the Resurrection Symphony, after a line from a poem by the 17th century German poet Friedrich Klopstock, which forms the main theme in the work's finale.

    On 27th May, there will be a performance of Tchaikovsky's The Queen of Spades with Irina Bogacheva, Irina Gordei and Vladimir Galuzin in the main roles.

    The opera, based on Pushkin's novella, is inarguably one of the myths of St Petersburg's culture. It is precisely this quality that has always drawn directors to it. During St Petersburg's anniversary celebrations, the performance of The Queen of Spades is especially symbolic as it represents an attempt to understand the soul of the city and discover its mystical heart. The performance will be broadcast by the Kultura television channel.

    The culmination of the anniversary celebrations will be provided by the gala concerts of opera and ballet stars on 28th May on Palace Square and on 30th and 31st May at the Mariinsky Theatre. The concert on 30th May, to be broadcast by the BBC, will see performances by Plácido Domingo, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Renée Fleming, Olga Borodina, Vladimir Galuzin, Vladimir Ognovenko, Nikolai Putilin, Vasily Gerello, Anna Netrebko, Ulyana Lopatkina, Diana Vishneva, Svetlana Zakharova, Igor Zelensky and Farukh Ruzimatov.

    Valery Gergiev will be conducting these performances and concerts.

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    The Mariinsky Theatre. 1783-2003.Theme and Variations

    On 23rd May, the exhibition The Mariinsky Theatre. 1783-2003. Theme and Variations will open at the Marble Palace of the State Russian Museum; the exhibition is devoted to Russia's oldest musical theatre, for over two centuries the academy of Russian opera and ballet. The exhibition has been organised by the State Russian Museum together with the State Academic Mariinsky Theatre and the St Petersburg State Museum of Theatre and Music. Over 700 exhibits will be on show. Residents of St Petersburg will have the opportunity to see costumes of the artists of the Imperial Theatre and sketches and models of sets.

    The display is seen by its organisers as a performance exhibition, and visitors will have active roles to play. An interactive backstage area will be created in the Marble Palace. Sound and lighting equipment and stage props will create the feeling of a performance underway. The displays at the exhibition will organically combine 'the modern age and the bygone era'. The entire history of the Academic Mariinsky Theatre, from when it was established to the current day, will be unfolded at the Marble Palace. The use of historical items from the theatre (costumes from the wardrobes of the former Imperial Theatres, sketches for sets, props, theatre models, scores, photographs and paintings) will be combined with actual items from modern stage design, in strict conformation with the history books.

    The stage history of legendary opera and ballet masterpieces at the Mariinsky Theatre will be on show, starting from their premieres and ending with their most recent interpretations. Theatre lovers will be able to view Tchaikovsky's baton, and an autographed copy of his score for The Nutcracker. Taglione, Kshesinskaya, Karsavina, Pavlova and Vaganova's pointe slippers will be on display. Awards received by Marius Petipa and costumes for all of his ballets will also tell the history of ballet.

    Visitors will see sketches for sets and costumes by Benois and Golovin as well as portraits, photographs and other personal items belonging to directors and designers who have worked at the theatre over the years, including Napravnik, Mravinsky, Golovin, Meyerhold, Benois and Virsaladze. The theatre's latest works will also be represented at the exhibition.

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    For the first time ever in St Petersburg, Zubin Mehta will be conducting a concert by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra

    For the first time ever in St Petersburg, Zubin Mehta will be conducting a concert by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra as part of the XI Stars of the White Nights festival on 18th May. The programme includes Mahler's Third Symphony. The soloist is Zlata Bulycheva.

    Under the baton of the legendary Arturo Toscanini, the then Palestine Orchestra performed its inaugural concert on December 26th, 1936. Along with Israel's independence in 1948, the orchestra was renamed the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, and is today considered one of the finest in the world. The ensemble is made up of 110 musicians. Most were born and trained in Israel. The Orchestra performs over 200 concerts per year in all major cities in Israel in addition to opera productions. The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra has performed with many outstanding conductors. Leonard Bernstein had a close relationship with the ensemble, and in 1988 he was named Conductor Laureate of the Orchestra.

    Zubin Mehta has served as Music Director of the IPO since 1969 (he first conducted it when both he and the orchestra were 25 years old). In 1981, his appointment was extended for life. Maestro Kurt Masur, Music Director of the New York Philharmonic and Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig, was appointed Honorary Guest Conductor in 1992, and Antonio Pappano, Music Director of the Theatre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels, was named Chief Guest Conductor of the IPO in 1997. The Orchestra holds annual concerts by 'The Maestro and His Young Guests' to support young and gifted musicians. The IPO regularly records for major labels such as Sony Classical, Teldec, EMI and Deutsche Grammophon.

    Maestro Zubin Mehta, Music Director of the IPO, is one of the greatest orchestral and opera conductors the world has known.

    Maestro Mehta's unprecedented affection and dedication to the IPO have brought him the admiration of the State of Israel and the Israeli people. He has been Music Director of the Montreal Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic and the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino - all this without wavering from his constant loyalty to the IPO.

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    Concert by the Sinfonietta Cracovia

    There will be a concert on 14th May as part of the XI Stars of the White Nights international festival at the St Petersburg Conservatoire by the Sinfonietta Cracovia symphony orchestra. The concert will be conducted by John Axelrod, a student of Ilya Musin, Christoph Eschenbach, Gustav Meier, Daniel Lewis and Mendi Rodan. Renowned pianist and conductor Christoph Eschenbach will be the soloist.
    The programme includes Penderecki's Sinfonietta for strings, Mozart's Piano concerto and Beethoven's Third symphony. The Sinfonietta Cracovia symphony orchestra was established in 1990 by a group of young musicians affiliated with the Krakow Academy of Music. Since 1994, the Sinfonietta has enjoyed the patronage of the President of the City of Krakow, appearing from that time as the Orchestra of the Capital Royal City of Krakow. The Sinfonietta Cracovia is a former string ensemble that grew to meet repertoire demands. Krzysztof Penderecki, Christoph Eschenbach, Antoni Wit, Rudolf Buchbinder, Barry Douglas, Jan Krenz, Jerzy Maksymiuk, Jerzy Katlewicz, Boris Pergamenschikow, Tabea Zimmermann, Grigori Zhislin, Irene Grafenauer, Kaja Danczowska and Kevin Kenner are just some of the renowned artists to have worked with the Sinfonietta.
    The Sinfonietta Cracovia's numerous recordings for television, radio and release on compact disc have been nominated for awards from the Polish music industry. In 1998, the Sinfonietta received the European Cultural Award, presented by the European Culture Foundation under the auspices of the Parliament and Council of Europe. In September 2000, conductor John Neal Axelrod was named Principal Guest Conductor of the ensemble.

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    Gala Concert in Honour of Olga Moiseyeva

    On 14th May, the XI Stars of the White Nights festival will see a gala concert by ballet stars in honour of Olga Moiseyeva. Moiseyeva's students Svetlana Zakharova, Yulia Makhalina and Irina Zhelonkina as well as Nikolai Tsiskaridze, Anton Korsakov and Andrei Yakovlev (2nd) will be taking part in the performance, commemorating the fifty-five years Olga Moiseyeva has spent in dance.
    From her very first appearances on the professional stage, Olga Moiseyeva was highly regarded by contemporaries. "Moiseyeva shows great promise; a dancer such as she should make a superb ballerina. Spirituality, poeticism, intelligence and grace - these are all vitally important in theatre. Moiseyeva, by all appearances, will be able to occupy a leading position in Leningrad ballet." Thus spoke Yuri Slonimsky of the young ballerina who had recently graduated from the Leningrad Ballet School, and his words proved prophetic. Success and glory followed Olga Moiseyeva from her first appearance at the theatre. At her graduate performance, she danced the supremely difficult act of the "Shadows" from La Bayadere, which she rehearsed with Agrippina Yakovlevna Vaganova, and immediately "won the hearts of the audience with her classicism, beautiful lines and spirituality". The ballerina's repertoire quickly expanded.
    Solo roles followed one after another: a Fairy and Princess Florine (The Sleeping Beauty), the Flower Girl and the Street Dancer (Don Quixote) and variations and Raymonda's friend (Raymonda). Soon she was dancing serious roles: Nikia in La Bayadere, Odette-Odile in Swan Lake, Zarema in The Fountain of Bakhchisarai, Kitri in Don Quixote and Aegina in Spartacus. In 1961, Moiseyeva created the role of Mekhmeneh Bahnu in Yuri Grigorovich's ballet The Legend of Love. Her dancing was "full of true emotion", and was remarkable for its "technical stability, the precision with which she changed poses, its strong vigour". Audiences remember the ballerina in comic-grotesque roles, too, such as Krivlyaka (one of the sisters in Cinderella) and Elzevira (The Bedbug).
    Olga Moiseyeva first made her appearance at the theatre just after the war, and has remained here ever since - first as a ballerina, and later as a ballet mistress and repetiteur.
    She has passed on her skills to more than one generation of Mariinsky Theatre ballerinas, among them Galina Mezentseva, Altynai Asylmuratova, Yulia Makhalina, Irma Nioradze, Irina Zhelonkina, Tatiana Amosova and Svetlana Zakharova.

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    As part of the Stars of the White Nights will be a performance of The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maid Fevronia

    At 18:00 on 13th May as part of the Stars of the White Nights, there will be a performance of Rimsky-Korsakov's opera The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maid Fevronia. The libretto is by Vladimir Belsky, the Musical Director is Valery Gergiev, the Director and Set Designer is Dmitry Chernyakov, the Executive Producer is Edward Boyakov, the Costume Designers are Olga Lukina and Dmitry Chernyakov, the Lighting Designer is Gleb Filshtinsky, the Principal Chorus Master is Andrei Petrenko, the musical preparation is by Natalia Mordashova and the Conductor is Mikhail Agrest. The production is sponsored by the Mariinsky Theatre Trust (Great Britain).
    It is a Russian opera which the theatre has staged consistently throughout history. This operatic mystery was almost immediately christened the "Russian Parsifal", though here we see subjects of Russian spiritual philosophy - eternal life, the transformation of the mortal into the everlasting and the transformation of a "visible city" into an "invisible one". The Legend of the City of Kitezh was first staged at the Mariinsky Theatre in 1907. It was subsequently staged in 1910 and 1918 by Pyotr Melnikov and in 1958 by Yevgeny Sokovnin. The last production came in 1994. The current staging was premiered on 20th January 2001.
    Director Dmitry Chernyakov created a link between his own work and the very first production, recreating the picturesque stage curtains by Korovin and Vasnetsov. But that is only at the beginning. It is followed by images of woods and deserts, inhabited by Fevronia, or the image of Little Kitezh, almost conjuring up the scene at a typical railway station cafe with its vagrant-like inhabitants. The director used contemporary stage language to make real the metaphor for the transformation of the events of life on earth into life eternal.
    On 13th May, the lead roles will be performed by Mlada Khudoley, Sergey Alexashkin, Vladimir Grishko and others.

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    XI Stars of the White Nights International Festival of Arts

    XI Stars of the White Nights International Festival of Arts
    5th May - 5th August 2003
    Artistic Director: Valery Gergiev
    General sponsors of the Festival: Nestle and Vneshtorgbank
    Main sponsors of the Festival: bp, Evrofinance, Transneft, DaimlerChrysler
    General information sponsor: Kommersant

    On 5th May, the Mariinsky Theatre will open the XI Stars of the White Nights International Festival of Arts, this year dedicated to St Petersburg's tercentenary, which will finish with a whole series of gala concerts and tours by the Mariinsky Theatre all over the world in honour of St Petersburg.

    Guest performers at this year's festival include stars such as Renee Fleming, Placido Domingo, Dmitry Khvorostovsky, Yuri Bashmet, Vadim Repin, Christoph Eschenbach, Alexander Toradze, James Levine, Zubin Mehta, Philippe Herreweghe, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Justus Frantz to name just a few. The Mariinsky Theatre will be represented by soloists Olga Borodina, Anna Netrebko, Vladimir Galuzin, Vasily Gerello, Nikolai Putilin, Vladimir Vaneyev, Ulyana Lopatkina, Diana Vishneva, Svetlana Zakharova, Igor Zelensky and Andrian Fadeyev among others.

    Over three months, the festival will see performances by orchestras which need no introduction - The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the Wiener Philharmoniker, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Moscow Soloists, the Orchestre des Champs Elysees, the Wiener Streichersolisten, the Philharmonia of the Nations and the World Orchestra for Peace as well as ensembles less well-known to St Petersburg's theatre-goers - the Zagreb Symphony Orchestra, the Collegium Vocale Gent, the Bamberger Symphoniker, the Sinfonietta Cracovia, the Rotterdam Philharmonic, Swedish Radio Orchestra and Chorus and the Lahti Symphony Orchestra. For many, these appearances at "the Stars" mark their first performances in Russia.

    The opera programme for the Stars of the White Nights includes the great Russian classics: Khovanshchina and Boris Godunov by Musorgsky, The Queen of Spades and Eugene Onegin by Tchaikovsky, The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maid Fevronia by Rimsky-Korsakov, A Life for the Tsar by Glinka and War and Peace by Prokofiev.

    There will be several opera premieres in June. Aside from those already staged this season - La traviata with Anna Netrebko as Violetta, Wagner's Parsifal, conducted by Christoph Eschenbach, and Puccini'sIl trittico, St Petersburg audiences will have the opportunity to see Rubinstein's Demon, first staged during the Saison russe at Paris' Théâtre du Châtelet, and Tchaikovsky's Enchantress which was premiered to great acclaim at the Teatro Nacional de Sao Carlos in Lisbon.

    One of the festival's most significant events will be the premiere of Wagner's tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen. In the early 20th century, the Mariinsky Theatre was the only theatre in Russia to stage Wagner's Ring. At the close of the last century, the theatre began work to restore the composer's operas to the Mariinsky Theatre's repertoire - Parsifal, Lohengrin and Der Fliegende Hollander are all performed in the original German.

    The festival's ballet programme will see performances of such masterpieces as Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky/Petipa and Ivanov, Don Quixote by Minkus/Gorsky, La Bayadere by Minkus/Petipa, ballets by Fokine and Balanchine reflecting the search for new choreographic language of the early 20th century, and the theatre's latest productions of The Nutcracker and Princess Pirlipat by Chemiakin and Simonov and Cinderella, choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky.

    Balletomanes will have the chance to see such distinguished companies as John Neumeier's Hamburg Ballett, London's Royal Ballet and New York City Ballet. John Neumeier's company will be performing La Dame aux camelias (1978), Nijinsky (2000), one of the most successful premieres in recent years, and a ballet based on Chekhov's Seagull (2002). London's Royal Ballet will be performing works from their permanent repertoire - ballets by Kenneth MacMillan and Frederick Ashton, choreographers who largely defined the face of British ballet in the 20th century. New York City Ballet will also be showing their programme works - ballets by Balanchine and Robbins.

    The festival's symphony programme will be incredibly rich. Russian music will be represented by works by Rimsky-Korsakov, Glazunov, Rachmaninov, Prokofiev, Shostakovich and Stravinsky. The programme is also notable for its premieres of works by Staar, Raskatov and Kancheli (Raskatov and Kancheli have dedicated their works to Valery Gergiev's 50th birthday), the Russian premiere of Insomnia by Esa-Pekka Salonen and the St Petersburg premiere of Gubaidulina's Easter Oratorio.

    There will be performances of works by Berlioz, works rarely included in concert repertoires: La Mort de Cleopatre, a lyric scene for soloist and orchestra, and La Damnation de Faust, a dramatic legend. One of the most interesting events of the festival promises to be the performances of Gustav Mahler's symphonies by the world's leading orchestras. The festival's symphony programme will be varied with works by Parac, Sulek, Aho, Arriaga and Rodrigo, composers almost unknown in Russia.

    It is by no means often that there is the chance to hear several examples of oratorio-symphony music, represented in the Stars of the White Nights programme by Berlioz Requiem (1837), Brahms' German Requiem (1868) and Verdi's Requiem (1874), all at one festival.

    This year's festival will continue to push beyond the boundaries of St Petersburg's concert venues. In addition to Vyborg, already "captured" last year, this year's festival campaign will take in Ivangorod, Kaliningrad, Pskov and Moscow. Late June will see performances by the Mariinsky Ballet, the Mariinsky Orchestra under the baton of Esa-Pekka Salonen, the Bamberger Symphoniker and the Wiener Philharmoniker in Moscow.

    The unique quintessence of the artistic and humanitarian side of the festival will be demonstrated by the concert of the World Orchestra for Peace, which has come together for the fourth time especially to honour the Stars of the White Nights. This unprecedented cultural initiative was inspired by renowned conductor Sir Georg Solti; since his death, Maestro Gergiev has led the Orchestra. Musicians from over forty countries will perform a symphony programme including Prokofiev's Ode to the End of War.

    Information partners of the Mariinsky Theatre:
    the Izvestiya national newspaper and the Mayak radio station

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    The Easter Festival

    A concert in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire on 27th April at 9 p.m. marked the grand opening of the Second Moscow Easter Festival. The Mariinsky Theatre Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by Valery Gergiev, performed Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony and Stravinsky's Les Noces.
    The Easter Festival was first held in 2002 on the initiative of the Mayor of Moscow Yuri Luzhkov. The Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias Alexei II has given his blessing to the Festival. Outstanding conductor Valery Gergiev is the Festival's Artistic Director. The Festival's bright and varied programmes and performances by world-class artists have seen it become one of the greatest events on the Russian music scene; the media referred to the Festival as the peak of the concert season. The Festival's success ensured its destiny - it will now be an annual event.

    The Moscow Easter Festival will continue the European tradition of musical forums during Easter week and, at the same time, devote special attention to preserving and developing Russia's rich musical legacy. The Festival's programmes include performances by the world's leading symphony orchestras; for the first time in the history of Russian music, there will be concerts of religious choral music in working Moscow churches during the Festival. The Festival will also be involved in charitable programmes and open-to-all concerts of bell-ringing music, an integral part of Easter celebrations.

    The Second Moscow Easter Festival promises to be a truly European festival of music for Muscovites and visitors to the capital. Amongst those taking part are the Mariinsky Theatre Symphony Orchestra and Chorus under the baton of Valery Gergiev, Mikhail Pletnev, Mischa Maisky, Yuri Bashmet, Anna Netrebko, Vadim Repin, Viktoria Mullova, Ku Wu Pek, Katia Labek and many other world-famous musicians. The choral programme will see performances by choruses from Russia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Serbia, Greece, Armenia and Ossetia. There will be a total of forty concerts.

    One of the most significant events of the Second Easter Festival will be a performance of Musorgsky's opera Boris Godunov on 4th May on a historical site - Cathedral Square in the Moscow Kremlin. Valery Gergiev will be conducting, Andrei Moguchy and Mikhail Pandzhavidze are the Directors, the designs are by Alexei Shishkin and Gleb Filshtinsky is the Lighting Designer. The opera will be performed by Mariinsky Theatre soloists including Vladimir Ognovenko (Boris Godunov), Mikhail Kit (Pimen), Nikolai Gassiev (Shuisky), Vasily Gerello (Shchelkalov), Vladimir Grishko (the Pretender), Yevgeny Akimov (the Simpleton), Gennady Bezzubenkov (Varlaam), Ivan Pushkin (Fyodor), Irina Mataeva (Xenia), Viktor Vikhrov (Misail) and Nadezhda Vasilyeva (the Hostess of the Inn).

    For the first time in history, the Kremlin will be open to such a grandiose cultural event. The cast will be made up of over 300 performers. In technical terms, it will be a hitherto unknown multimedia production. Installation will commence four days in advance, with the construction of an amphitheatre for an audience of 1500, made of 23 tons of metal; the stage will be 5 metres high - a unique scaffold - with two-level sets with sliding apertures. It will take 30 cubic metres of wood and 2000 linear metres of metal to build; there will be 7 towers for sound and lighting equipment up to 16 metres high; 8 tons of sound and lighting equipment, 5 LED screens of various sizes, the largest 4 by 9 metres. Boris will exit the Cathedral of the Assumption, but how he will make his way on stage is a secret closely guarded by the Directors.

    Andrei Moguchy says "For me, Boris Godunov is a personal, and at the same time, universal drama. Boris - the main character in the opera - is a man who by the will of Fate has entered a game, predestined by the universe, and is now its hostage. It is this subject that interests me most of all, and not the social or even the historical context".
    Mikhail Pandzhavidze tells that "Musorgsky's opera is doubtless the personal tragedy of a man who has become a toy in the hands of Destiny, though that is not all. In my mind, Boris is less of a national drama and more of a 'drama of the nation'. We all know that a nation will be ruled by the ruler it deserves. But the paradox of Boris' personality lies in the fact that he was but one of few good rulers in Old Russia, one whom the nation subsequently rejected in favour of: the False Dmitry".

    Information on the Easter Festival may be found at: http://www.easterfestival.ru

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    Oedipus Rex will performed at the Mariinsky Theatre

    On 10th April, a stage version of Igor Stravinsky's opera-oratoria Oedipus Rex will performed at the Mariinsky Theatre, marking the work's St Petersburg premiere. It is a co-production of the Mariinsky Theatre and Graz' Opera House. The director is Jonathan Miller, set designs are by Jonathan Miller and Charles Quiggin, costumes are by Sue Willmington, lighting is by Don M. Wood and choreography by Darrel Toulon.

    Stravinsky wrote the opera in 1926-1927 to a libretto based on Sophocles' tragedy Oedipus Rex, reworked and translated into Latin by Jean Cocteau. The opera was first performed in concert at Paris' Théâtre Sarah Bernhardt and was conducted by Stravinsky. One year later at the Wiener Staatsoper, the stage version of the opera was premiered.

    The Mariinsky Theatre staged a concert performance of Oedipus Rex at the Stars of the White Nights festival. In February 2003, the theatre performed a stage version of the opera while on tour to the Austrian town of Graz, European City of Culture 2003. Renowned Austrian actor Klaus Maria Brandauer performed the role of the Speaker. Austrian critics wrote about the orchestra, conducted by Valery Gergiev, soloists Oleg Balashov and Marianna Tarasova, with their strong emotional quality as Oedipus and Iocasta and the directing by Jonathan Miller who made the Speaker into the creator of an exciting and dangerous game.

    The premiere on 10th April will be performed by Zlata Bulycheva, Oleg Balashov, Mikhail Petrenko and Yevgeny Nikitin. Valery Gergiev will be conducting.

    Jonathan Miller is a Professor, television presenter and theatre, opera and film director. As a theatre director, he has staged such productions as The Merchant of Venice with Laurence Olivier and Joan Plowright, The Taming of the Shrew (RSC), The Seagull (Haymarket Theatre), Long Day's Journey into Night (Haymarket Theatre), The Emperor (Royal Court) and, at the Old Vic, Andromeda with Janet Suzman, The Tempest with Max von Sydow, King Lear and Corneille's comedy The Liar. In 1974, he began working in opera. He has worked with English National Opera, the Bavarian Staatsoper in Munich, the Deutsche Staatsoper in Berlin, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, the Salzburg Festival, La Scala, and the Wiener Staatsoper. His most famous productions are Verdi's Rigoletto (1982, ENO, with the action transferred to 1930s USA, the Duke become a mafia boss and Rigoletto a barman), Puccini's Tosca (1986, Florence), Mozart's Idomeneo (Florence, with Semyon Bychkov) Mozart's Cosi fan tutte (Covent Garden), Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro (Wiener Staatsoper, with Claudio Abbado), Janacek's Katya Kabanova (1991, Metropolitan Opera) and Cimarosa's Il matrimonio segreto, (1997, Zurich).

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    Concerts in Mariinsky Theatre

    On 7th and 11th April Gianandrea Noseda will be conducting concerts of opera and symphony music. The programme for the gala concert on 7th April will include Italian opera music, some of which is rarely performed at the Mariinsky Theatre and only in concert. Olga Savova, Olga Trifonova, Alexander Gergalov, Vladimir Grishko and Viktor Chernomortsev will be performing arias from operas by Donizetti (Lucia di Lammermoor), Bellini (La sonnambula), Puccini (Manon Lescaut) and Verdi (Un ballo in maschera and Nabucco).

    11th April will see a performance of Mahler's Sixth "Tragic" Symphony, "a great drama in sound" as one of the composer's contemporaries described it, and scenes from Berlioz' La Damnation de Faust by the Mariinsky Young Philharmonic Orchestra and Opera soloists Olga Savova, Leonid Zakhozhaev and Sergey Alexashkin. Concert will be staging at the Hermitage Theatre.

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    The Mariinsky Theatre Tours to Graz

    11th February will see the start of the Mariinsky Theatre's tour to the Austrian city of Graz, St Petersburg's twin-town and the European City of Culture for 2003.
    The tour opens with Tchaikovsky's The Queen of Spades with Vladimir Galuzin in the main role. Valery Gergiev will be conducting.
    The tour, which lasts until 23rd February, will provide Austrian audiences with the opportunity to see Tchaikovsky's Mazepa with Nikolai Putilin as Mazepa and Tatiana Pavlovskaya as Maria. Graz will also witness the European premieres of Cimarosa's La Cleopatra and Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex. These operas will be performed on the same evening. The Stage Director is Jonathan Miller. The Russian premieres will take place on 19th and 20th March at the Mariinsky Theatre and the operas will be shown again as part of the Stars of the White Nights festival which opens on 5th May.

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    III International Ballet Festival Mariinsky

    The Mariinsky Theatre will be running the III International Ballet Festival Mariinsky from 21st February to 2nd March 2003. This is currently the only classical dance festival in Russia whose participants are leading dancers from the world's leading ballet companies.
    The Festival's motto is The Theatre of Open Doors. After many years of isolation, the Mariinsky Theatre is renewing the practice of inviting companies and soloists to tour. We are convinced that their performances in ballets in the theatre's repertoire will do more than refresh our regular theatre-goers. Sharing different ideas and comparing schools and techniques professionally are necessary for any theatre to function properly.
    Vladimir Malakhov, Carlos Acosta, Jose-Manuel Carreno, Ethan Stiefel (all with ABT) Nikolay Ziskaridze (Bolshoi Theatre), Agnes Letestu, Jose Martinez, Aurelie Dupont, Nicolas Le Riche and Manuel Legris (all with the Opera de Paris) have danced together with Mariinsky Theatre ballet soloists Ulyana Lopatkina, Diana Vishneva, Svetlana Zakharova, Irma Nioradze, Igor Zelensky, Farukh Ruzimatov, Andrian Fadeyev and Danila Korsuntsev in the Festival's performances and Gala Concerts. For many, this marked their debut not only at the Mariinsky Theatre but in Russia as well.
    One of the Festival's major attractions is provided by performances of the leading European ballet companies that are invited to take part. John Neumeier's Hamburger Ballett and the Bayerische Staatsballet have performed at the Festival. The Festival also saw the first Russian performance by Ballett Frankfurt, headed by renowned choreographerWilliam Forsythe.
    This year's Festival will see the debuts of leading soloists from the New York City Ballet - Damian Woetzel, Wendy Whelan and Maria Kowroski will be dancing in Russia for the first time. As before, we will be joined by Agnes Letestu, Jose Martinez, Jean-Guillaume Bart and Manuel Legris, our friends from the Opera de Paris. We are pleased to have Alina Cojocaru, the hope and rising star of London's Royal Ballet and her partner Johan Kobborg, a wonderful representative of the classical Danish school, at the Festival. (Mr Kobborg currently dances with the Royal Ballet.) Vladimir Malakhov (ABT, Staatsoper Unter den Linden) and Nikolay Ziskaridze (Bolshoi Theate) are also regular participants of the Festival.

    This year, the Final Gala Concert will be a tribute to Rudolf Nureyev who began his career at the Mariinsky (Kirov) Theatre.

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    The World Premiere of the Ballet Princess Pirlipat, or Worthiness Punished

    As part of the III Mariinsky International Ballet Festival, the Mariinsky Theatre will be staging the world premiere of the ballet Princess Pirlipat, or Worthiness Punished to music by Sergey Slonimsky on 27th February. The libretto and set, costume and production design is by Mihail Chemiakin and the choreography is by Kirill Simonov.
    The one-act ballet will serve as an unusual prologue to The Nutcracker. The libretto is based on the story of how the nephew of Drosselmeyer, who has enchanted Princess Pirlipat, is transformed into the Nutcracker.

    Speaking of the ballet's creation, Mihail Chemiakin says that "the first serious attempt to recreate the subject of Hoffmann's tale Nutcracker und Mausekonig in full was by the great choreographer F. V. Lopukhov in the 30's. D. D. Shostakovich was asked to write music for the new ballet about the story of Princess Pirlipat and Drosselmeyer's nephew. Sadly, the idea never came to fruition due to the bad press that swamped Shostakovich after he had worked on the ballets The Bolt and The Limpid Stream, as a result of which he swore never to write ballet music again.
    In the early 1990's, in his ballet The Hard Nut, American choreographer Mark Morris devoted the first part of Act II of Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker to this subject. It is, of course, very difficult to insert the complicated and both romantic and tragic subject of the story of Drosselmeyer's nephew and Princess Pirlipat into a traditional Nutcracker - Petipa and Tchaikovsky's plan becomes distorted. So, when I wrote the libretto based on Hoffmann's tale, I turned to the wonderful Petersburg composer S. M. Slonimsky, and asked him to write music for the ballet. And I hope that the audience will remember this half-forgotten story and will have greater sympathy towards the Nutcracker in the new production, which is organically linked to The Nutcracker already staged by Kirill Simonov and myself."

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    The First Ever Performance of Norma at the Mariinsky Theatre

    Vincenzo Bellini's opera Norma will be performed in concert on 23rd January at the Mariinsky Theatre. Based on the popular Parisian tragedy Norma, ou L'infanticide, Bellini wrote the work in 1831, and it has been performed at opera houses over the world ever since, though it has never been staged before at the Mariinsky Theatre. The theatre is thus continuing its tradition of staging classics of the opera genre, which for whatever reason have never been performed here before. It is no coincidence that the next performance of Norma at the Mariinsky Theatre will be on 20th February as part of the Sheremetev Evenings, which are notable for their unusual programmes that include well-known and popular concert pieces, as well as works that are rarely heard or have been undeservedly forgotten.

    On 23rd January, the main roles will be performed by Nadezhda Serdyuk, Mlada Khudoley, Sergey Alexashkin and Alexei Steblianko. Leonid Korchmar will be conducting.

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    Grammy Nominations for the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra and Chorus

    This year, the Mariinsky Theatre has been nominated in several classical categories of the Grammy prize:

    - conductor Valery Gergiev, soloists Gennady Bezzubenkov, Natalia Korneva, Viktor Lutsyuk and Fyodor Mozhaev and the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra and Chorus have been nominated in the category Best Chorus Performance for Sofia Gubaidulina's St John Passion;

    - Yury Bashmet and Valery Gergiev have been nominated in the category Best Solo Performance with Orchestrafor the CD Kancheli: Styx/Gubaidulina: Concerto for viola and orchestra, recorded by the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra with Yuri Bashmet and conducted by Valery Gergiev;

    - Sofia Gubaidulina has been nominated in the category Best Contemporary Classical Composition for the St John Passion as performed by the Mariinsky Theatre Chorus and Orchestra.

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    The complete Ring des Nibelungen tetralogy at the Mariinsky Theatre

    25th December will see the premiere of Richard Wagner's opera Siegfried, the "second day" in the Ring des Nibelungen tetralogy. Gotterdammerung-mt, the "third day" and final part of the tetralogy will be performed on 30th December. One hundred years on, Wagner's Ring has returned to the Mariinsky Theatre: at the start of the 20th century, Principal Conductor E. Napravnik and S. Volkonsky, Director of the Imperial Theatres, collaborated on a production of Der Ring des Nibelungen, albeit in Russian. Now the operas will be performed in the original German.
    Valery Gergiev will be Musical Director and Conductor of the productions. The Production Designer is Georgy Tsypin, who has staged productions including [iLady Macbeth of Mtsensk, War and Peace and Boris Godunov for the theatre. Acclaimed theatre director Vladimir Mirzoev is directing; these productions of Wagner's works mark his Mariinsky Theatre debut.
    Among those rehearsing Siegfried are Larisa Gogolevskaya, Olga Sergeeva, Nikolai Gassiev, Leonid Zakhozhaev, Mikhail Kit, Fyodor Mozhaev, Yevgeny Nikitin, Mikhail Petrenko, Edem Umerov and Vladimir Felenchak.
    Among those rehearsing Gotterdammerung-mt are Larissa Gogolevskaya, Olga Savova, Olga Sergeeva, Lyubov Sokolova, Valeria Stenkina, Mlada Khudolei, Gennady Bezzubenkov, Fyodor Mozhaev, Mikhail Petrenko, Gary Rideout and Edem Umerov.

    George Tsypin relates how "The Ring was written during the Industrial Revolution, at a time when it appeared that mankind was plundering the secret of nature - "the ring". In the 21st century, it seems that we are on the verge of discovering the secret of life; I wanted to create a Ring that would reflect the age of cloning, mutation, artificial intelligence and the explosive growth of genetics and biotechnology. I wanted to create a world where it is impossible to understand if we are in the world of the gods or in a terrible though beautiful world of molecules and proteins, with all life's functions. Perhaps we are robots ourselves, created by engineers who refuse to bow down to our artificial consciousness. At the same time, there is a more primordial feel to this work, inspired by ancient legends from northern, eastern and southern lands. For example, the parallels between Germanic myths and Ossetian narty are amazing. This world of giants, heroes, gods, swords and dragons is never-ending, primitively ancient and futuristic; in other words - eternal. "

    Vladimir Mirzoev states that "For me, the Ring has appeared here and now because (not for the first time in history) Russia must once again lay aside its blood-spattered beginnings and turn to life's ontological principles. And not from the position of personality, but from the position of ethnicity. The simplest way is by recalling ancient stories. Especially those that make your spine tingle. The decadent has gallantly surrendered to the primitive (or mythical). Of course, the cosmic Wagnerian proportions blend very naturally with the both catastrophic and intricate background of recent Russian history. But cosmic proportions aside, Wagner's main message is also very valuable. Rejecting love for the sake of power over the forces of nature will inevitably lead to the collapse of the universe. And even the gods are powerless to prevent such a tragic end.
    Our context ranges from ecology to politics, and this formula should be used to create something of a national idea. Forgive me for using such an image, but it is the only one. But then Hitler, with his antichristian pathos, was hardly a connoisseur of Richard Wagner. He merely scratched the surface, as if skating on the frozen surface of the Rhine. "

    The production is being sponsored by DaimlerChrysler.

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    La traviata Returns

    Giuseppe Verdi's undoubted masterpiece La traviata is returning to the Mariinsky Theatre. The new production will be premiered on 15th December. The Musical Director and Conductor is Valery Gergiev, the Stage Director is Charles Roubaud, the Set Designer is Bernard Arnould and the Costume Designer is Katia Duflot.

    The opera, based on Alexandre Dumas fils' drama La Dame aux camelias, was premiered in 1853 at Venice's Teatro La Fenice. La traviata was first staged in St Petersburg three years later by the Italian Company. It was first performed at the Mariinsky Theatre on 26th April in 1868 in Russian. There were several other productions after that, the last of which was staged in 1944. That production was directed by Ilya Shlepyanov and designed by Tatiana Bruni. The opera was last performed in May 1997. The role of Violetta Valery has been performed by the theatre's leading sopranos, including Alexandra Khalileyeva, Galina Kovaleva, Tatiana Novikova, Lyubov Kazarnovskaya and Olga Kondina. A concert performance of La traviata at the 2001 Stars of the White Nights festival was the first step towards bringing Verdi's masterpiece back to the Mariinsky Theatre.

    The new production is being directed by Charles Roubaud and costume design is by Katia Duflot, both already familiar to St Petersburg audiences for their new production of Puccini's Turandot at the theatre last season.

    In the first performances, the role of Violetta will be performed by Anna Netrebko, young star of the Mariinsky Opera, who won the hearts of audiences at the Metropolitan Opera in February 2002 as Natasha Rostova in the opera War and Peace, and performed to great acclaim at the prestigious Salzburg Festival this summer as Donna Anna in Don Giovanni.

    Among those rehearsing for the premiere are Valeria Stenkina, Mlada Khudoley, Nadezhda Serdyuk, Lia Shevtsova, Alla Perchikova, Vasily Gerello, Victor Chernomortsev, Yury Alexeyev, Oleg Balashov, Andrey Ilyushnikov, Roman Zavadsky, Yury Laptev, Andrey Spekhov, Vladimir Samsonov and Vladimir Tyulpanov.

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    December Premieres at the Mariinsky Theatre

    The Mariinsky Theatre will be staging three premieres this December.
    La traviata, Giuseppe Verdi's undoubted operatic masterpiece, will be premiered on 15th December. Based on the novel The Lady with the Camellias by Alexandre Dumas fils, the opera was booed and hissed when it was staged in 1853 at Venice's La Fenice. Two circumstances conspired to produce this reaction: it was the first time in the history of 19th century musical theatre that an opera about a modern-day subject had been written, and the main character was a woman shunned by society, a woman of the demi-monde. One year later, however, Verdi's opera had already become a resounding success.
    La traviata was first staged at the Mariinsky Theatre on 26th April 1868. It was subsequently staged several times at the Kirov Theatre. The new production is by French director Charles Roubaud, already familiar to St Petersburg audiences for his new production of the opera Turandot last season. The Musical Director and Conductor will be Valery Gergiev. The role of Violetta will be performed by Anna Netrebko, a young star of the Mariinsky Opera Company, who won the hearts of audiences at the Metropolitan Opera in February 2002 as Natasha Rostova in the opera War and Peace, and performed to great acclaim at the prestigious Salzburg Festival in summer as Donna Anna in Don Giovanni.
    The production is being sponsored by Vneshtorgbank.

    25th December will see the premiere of Richard Wagner's opera Siegfried, the "second day" in the Ring des Nibelungen tetralogy. Gotterdammerung-mt, the "third day" and final part of the tetralogy will be performed on 30th December. One hundred years on, Wagner's Ring has returned to the Mariinsky Theatre: at the start of the 20th century, Principal Conductor E. Napravnik and S. Volkonsky, Director of the Imperial Theatres, collaborated on a production of Der Ring des Nibelungen, albeit in Russian. Now the operas will be performed in the original German.
    Valery Gergiev will be Musical Director and Conductor of the productions. The Designer is Georgy Tsypin, who has staged productions including Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, War and Peace and Boris Godunov for the theatre. Acclaimed theatre director Vladimir Mirzoev is directing; these productions of Wagner's works mark his Mariinsky Theatre debut.
    Among those rehearsing Siegfried are Larisa Gogolevskaya, Olga Sergeyeva, Nikolai Gassiev, Leonid Zakhozhaev, Mikhail Kit, Fyodor Mozhaev, Yevgeny Nikitin, Mikhail Petrenko, Edem Umerov and Vladimir Felenchak.
    Among those rehearsing Gotterdammerung-mt are Larisa Gogolevskaya, Olga Savova, Olga Sergeyeva, Lyubov Sokolova, Valeria Stenkina, Mlada Khudolei, Gennady Bezzubenkov, Fyodor Mozhaev, Mikhail Petrenko, Gary Rideout and Edem Umerov.
    The production is being sponsored by DaimlerChrysler.

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    Natalia Mikhailovna Dudinskaya's Birthday Celebrations at the Mariinsky Theatre

    Legendary ballerina Natalia Mikhailovna Dudinskaya has been celebrating her 90th birthday. This November, the Mariinsky Theatre will be staging a series of performances and a gala concert of ballet stars in her honour. The The Sleeping Beauty will be performed on 7th November, Raymonda on the 8th, Don Quixote on the 9th and a gala concert with Dudinskaya's pupils on the 10th. Dudinskaya was already performing roles in The Sleeping Beauty and Don Quixote in her first seasons at the Kirov, and her Raymonda was once awarded the State Prize.

    The artistic life of this enchanting ballerina and highly gifted teacher has been inextricably bound to the Kirov/Mariinsky Theatre. In 1931, immediately after graduating from the Leningrad Choreographic School, Natalia Dudinskaya, one of Agrippina Yakovlevna Vaganova's favourite pupils, was invited to join the Kirov Ballet Company. It was here that she made her career as an astoundingly talented ballerina, performing all the main roles in the repertoire. Even in the middle of her first season, Vaganova (the then Artistic Director of the Ballet Company) allowed Dudinskaya to dance the role of Odette-Odile in Swan Lake and, at the start of her second season, that of Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty. Dudinskaya's skill as a dancer confirmed the timeless quality of classical masterpieces. She was also, however, responsible for the creation of many new images in ballets by her contemporaries. The first was as the actress Mireille de Poitier in Flames of Paris, followed by Maria in The Fountain of Bakhchisarai. One of the highpoints of Dudinskaya's career as a dancer and actress was as Laurencia in the ballet of the same name, staged by her partner Vakhtang Chabukiani. In 1946, Dudinskaya danced in Prokofiev's Cinderella, staged by Konstantin Sergeyev. This was followed by Syuimbike in Shurale, The Snow Maiden in The Spring Tale, Parasha in The Bronze Horseman, Baroness Strahl in Masquerade and, one of her finest creations, the role of Sari in the ballet Path of Thunder.

    Since 1951, Dudinskaya has followed in the footsteps of Agrippina Vaganova, teaching the theatre's ballerinas and leading soloists, helping them perfect their art and passing on the supreme technique of classical dance. Thus began Dudinskaya's activities as a teacher. She is now a Professor at the Academy of Russian Ballet. The Mariinsky Ballet Company boasts many of Dudinskaya's pupils, including Margarita Kullik, Irina Zhelonkina, Veronika Ivanova, Polina Rassadina and Galina Rakhmanova. Ulyana Lopatkina, a star of contemporary Russian ballet, is one of Dudinskaya's most famous and acclaimed pupils.

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    The 50th, 220th and 300th at the Mariinsky Theatre...

    The Mariinsky Theatre's new season will be marked by a series of anniversary events. First, this will be the theatre's 220th season; secondly, Valery Gergiev, Artistic and General Director, will celebrate his fiftieth birthday in May and, thirdly, there will be celebrations in spring and summer to mark three hundred years since the founding of St Petersburg.

    The 220th season opens on 6th October with a performance of Boris Godunov with Vladimir Vaneyev, Alexander Morozov and Nikolai Gassiev with Valery Gergiev conducting. Before the opera a movie K-19 will be shown at the Mariinsky Theatre. October will see the Rimsky-Korsakov Competition and its Gala Concert on the 18th.

    November will see several performances dedicated to Natalia Dudinskaya's 90th birthday, with The Sleeping Beauty on the 7th, Raymonda on the 8th, Don Quixote on the 9th and a Gala Concert on the 10th. December promises to be the most intense month of all. On 7th December, there will be an Evening in Memory of conductor Viktor Fedotov, who died just over a year ago. There will be premieres of Giuseppe Verdi's opera La Traviata on 15th December, and Richard Wagner's Siegfried on the 26th and Die Gotterdammerung on the 30th of the month. The Mariinsky Theatre's repertoire will contain Wagner's entire tetralogy in the original German for the first time ever.

    The Mariinsky Theatre will also be hosting two festivals with rich and varied programmes.
    The III International Ballet Festival Mariinsky will be held at the theatre from 21st February to 2nd March 2003. The festival will open on 21st February with a premiere of Cesare Pugni's ballet Ondine, with choreography by Pierre Lacotte, on the 24th the Bolshoi Theatre will present L. J. F. Harold's La fille mal gardee, as staged by Frederick Ashton, and 27th February will see the world premiere of S. Slonimsky's Princess Perlipat, choreographed by Kirill Simonov and with libretto, sets and costumes by Mihail Chemiakin.

    The XI international Stars of the White Nights festival of arts will run from 6th May to 6th August 2003. World-famous orchestras and companies such as the Bamberger Symphoniker (Germany), the Collegium Vocale Gent (Belgium), the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra (Israel), the Lahti Symphony Orchestra (Finland), the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra (USA), the Orchestre des Champs Elysees (France), the London Philharmonic Orchestra (Great Britain), the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra (Netherlands), the Krakow Orchestra (Poland), the Radio Sweden Orchestra and Chorus (Sweden), the Wiener Philharmonischer (Austria), the World Peace Orchestra, New York City Ballet (USA), the Opera de Lausanne (Switzerland) and the Royal Ballet, London (Great Britain), conductors Christophe Eschenbach, Phillipe Herreweghe, Manfred Honneck, James Levine, Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta, Jonathan Nott and Esa-Pekka Salonen and soloists Yury Bashmet, Olga Borodina, Efim Bronfman, Placido Domingo, Renee Fleming, Dmitry Khvorostovsky, Vadim Repin and Alexander Toradze will be taking part in the festival.
    More details are available upon request.

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    The Festival Stars of the White Nights keeps going

    The Mariinsky Theatre is hosting the international Stars of the White Nights festival for the tenth time this year. Since it came into being, the festival has become a gathering point for all those who love Russian culture, and it quickly became one of the most prestigious and popular events, giving audiences the chance to hear such famous musicians as Placido Domingo, Riccardo Muti, Carlo Maria Giulini, Deborah Voigt, Violetta Urmana, Yuri Bashmet, Alfred Brendel, James Conlon, Christophe Eschenbach, Yuri Temirkanov, Maris Yansons, Olga Borodina, Enrico Dindo, Gidon Kremer and many others. The Stars of the White Nights began as an opera and symphony festival lasting two weeks, though for the third year now it lasts an entire month. Each year, the festival programme becomes increasingly extensive, with performances of ballets as well as operas and concerts.
    This anniversary festival is noteworthy as it will showcase the best Russian music, including operas by Alexander Borodin, Modest Musorgsky, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Dmitry Shostakovich and Sergei Prokofiev.
    Undoubted highlights of the festival will be Olga Borodina's Gala Concert and her performance as Marfa in Musorgsky's opera Khovanshchina, Vladimir Galuzin's performance as Herman in The Queen of Spades and his participation in the Gala Concert of Mariinsky Opera stars, the concert performance of Prokofiev's last opera The Story of a Real Man and performances by Valery Gergiev's fellow musicians at the Maestro Gergiev and Friends concert at the Mariinsky Theatre.
    The festival opened with a performance of the ballet La Bayadere, a reconstruction of Marius Petipa's 1900 version. The reconstruction team did, however, retain those choreographic masterpieces which were introduced in later years.
    Act IV, the last act in this version, provides a logical conclusion to the ballet and Petipa's stage plan and the denouement now make sense thanks to the restoration of this act. Like any other form of art, a ballet constantly changes and develops. The premiere was but the first step to mastering this choreographic jewel.
    The concert performance of the opera The Story of a Real Man on 20th June could be regarded as an unprecedented step for the theatre and one of the most significant events of this year's festival. The opera, based on Boris Polevoy's short story of the same name, was written during what was a difficult period for the composer - the Central Committee had issued a decree about Vano Muradeli's opera The Great Friendship, branding Prokofiev a formalist. The opera was performed only once at a private viewing at the Kirov Theatre in 1948 and has not been staged there since. The Story of a Real Man is making its return to the Mariinsky Theatre, which now has all of Sergei Prokofiev's operatic masterpieces in its repertoire.
    Performances in the last two weeks of the festival are sure to prove highpoints in the programme. Giselle will be performed on 22nd June with Diana Vishneva in the main role, followed by a ball in the evening at the palace in Peterhof. This is the second year running that festival guests are invited to attend a ball at one of the former imperial estates. This year, the ball provides a unique opportunity to pass a white night in one of the most beautiful palaces and parks in Russia.
    The Baltika prizes will be awarded during a grand prize-giving ceremony at the Maestro Gergiev and Friends concert on 23rd June. As usual, nominations include the Grand-prix, prizes For achievements in opera and ballet and the Hope prize.
    Boris Godunov (1869 version) and Khovanshchina (orchestrated by Dmitry Shostakovich), Musorgsky's operatic masterpieces, will be performed as part of the tenth international Stars of the White Nights festival.
    Valery Gergiev will be conducting the opera Boris Godunov on 27th June at Vyborg Castle when the Stars of the White Nights and Saimaa-Vyborg festivals come together. This will be the first performance by the Mariinsky Theatre in the ancient castle's historic interior, and the open-air venue will lend the opera a special atmosphere. The Stars of the White Nights festival will be visiting the Leningrad Region.
    The Stars of the White Nights will be passing the baton on to the Saimaa-Vyborg festival, which has taken "the world without borders" as its theme. There will be concerts on 26th, 27th and 28th July in Savitaipale and Suomennieme (Finland) as well as in Karnikoska Fortress, founded by Alexander Suvorov, the great Russian military leader, as part of the Saimaa festival.
    The Mariinsky Theatre's forthcoming plans include performances and concerts in the fortress in Ivan-Gorod. The theatre is also examining the possibility of performing at the fortress in Narva (Estonia). Continuing this trend, there are also plans to stage performances and concerts in Kaliningrad.

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