Press-releases of 223 season


  • Valery Gergiev Receives the Herbert von Karajan Music Prize

  • Honouring 100 Years since the Birth of Dmitry Shostakovich
    The SHOSTAKOVICH ON STAGE Festival

  • XIV International Festival of Arts The Stars of the White Nights

  • On 17, 18 and 27 April the Mariinsky Theatre is premiering Benjamin Britten's opera The Turn of the Screw

  • Premiere of the opera I pagliacci at the Mariinsky Theatre

  • "New Names" at the Mariinsky Ballet Festival

  • Premiere of the Ballet Ondine

  • VI International Ballet Festival MARIINSKY

  • The Second Maslenitsa festival at the Mariinsky Theatre (22.022006)

  • Verdi's Falstaff at the Mariinsky Theatre: One Century On (09.02.2006)

  • A Starry New Year at the Mariinsky Theatre

  • Tour of the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Musical Theatre
    at the Mariinsky Theatre (21.11.2005 - 4.12.2005)

  • Richard Wagner's Parsifal.
    Conducted by Valery Gergiev (02.11.2005)

  • The Mariinsky Theatre to Open Its 223rd Season


    Valery Gergiev Receives the Herbert von Karajan Music Prize

    The Mariinsky Theatre's latest tour to Baden-Baden in Germany has begun with a noteworthy event this year – at a grand ceremony on 12 July, Valery Gergiev will be awarded the 2006 Herbert von Karajan Music Prize.
    There will be a celebratory gala concert to mark the event at Baden-Baden's Festspielhaus at 20:00. At 20:45 the actual prize-giving ceremony will take place with the participation of Anna Netrebko, who started her glittering career as a singer at the Mariinsky Theatre under Valery Gergiev.

    The Herbert von Karajan Prize was founded in 2002, and has been presented to violinist Anna-Sophie Mutter (2003), the Berliner Philharmoniker (2004) and pianist Yevgeny Kisin (2005). Announcing the choice of the council of trustees, Director of the Baden-Baden Festspielhaus Andreas Molich-Zebhauser remarked that "Valery Gergiev is one of the most important cultural figures of the present day. Since 1988 as Artistic Director of the Opera Company and from 1996 as Artistic and General Director of the Mariinsky Theatre, Valery Gergiev has tirelessly and passionately worked to revive the rich traditions of one of the world's greatest opera companies. His emotional interpretations of works by Italian, German and, of course, Russian composers have given new dimensions to performances of operas and symphonies. We are delighted to reward his work with the Herbert von Karajan Prize."

    As part of the current tour, the Mariinsky Theatre will again be performing a Wagnerian programme at the Baden-Baden Festspielhaus – a third performance of the tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen (13 – 18 July) and the first performance of Tristan und Isolde (19 July) in concert.
    The Mariinsky Theatre's Ring was first shown in Baden-Baden twice in winter 2003. "A truly historic and groundbreaking event" was the response of New York Times correspondent John Rockwell. "The Russians have emerged from the Ring victorious", noted Germany's Tagesspiegel. Wagner's cycle has been staged before full halls throughout Europe and came under close scrutiny from the international press.
    During the current tour the role of Brunnhilde will be performed by three acclaimed singers – Olga Savova (Die Walkure), Milana Butaeva (Siegfried) and Olga Sergeyeva (Gotterdammerung). Olga Savova will additionally appear as Waltraute in Gotterdammerung. Wotan will be performed by Mikhail Kit, a frequent interpreter of this highly complicated role in Die Walkure, with Yevgeny Nikitin performing the same role in Das Rheingold, Vadim Kravets in Siegfried and Viktor Lutsyuk in Gotterdammerung. The lead female roles in the tetralogy will be sung by Mlada Khudolei (Sieglinde), Zlata Bulycheva (Erda), Valeria Stenkina (Gutrune) and Svetlana Volkova (Fricka in Das Rheingold and Gotterdammerung) among others. Other lead performers include Gennady Bezzubenkov (Hunding), Viktor Chernomortsev (Alberich), Andrei Balashov (Siegmund), Vasily Gorshkov (Loge in Das Rheingold and Mime in Siegfried) and Mikhail Petrenko (Fafner in Das Rheingold and Hagen in Gotterdammerung).
    In Tristan und Isolde the lead roles will be sung by Clifton Forbis (Tristan), Larisa Gogolevskaya (Isolde), Yekaterina Gubanova (Brangane) and Mikhail Petrenko (King Marke).

    In the 2006-2007 season the Mariinsky Theatre's Ring will also be performed at the Orange County Festival (USA, October 2006), Cardiff (UK, December 2006), Las Palmas (Canary Islands, April 2007, reopening the Teatro Perez Galdos after reconstruction) and lastly at the Metropolitan Opera (New York, USA, July 2007).

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    Honouring 100 Years since the Birth of Dmitry Shostakovich
    The SHOSTAKOVICH ON STAGE Festival

    Artistic Director – Valery Gergiev

    The London Coliseum, 20 – 29 July 2006

    The Mariinsky Theatre Trust (UK) presents the Mariinsky Theatre's summer tour,
    marking a new stage in the theatre's relationship with the English National Opera,
    where the Mariinsky Theatre staged a charity concert in aid of the victims of Beslan in 2004.

    Over ten days the Shostakovich on Stage festival will see the performance
    of works included in the Stars of the White Nights festival anniversary programme,
    some of which the British public will be seeing for the first time.

    The festival programme includes works the composer wrote for musical theatre, which the British public will be seeing on such a large scale and at one festival for the first time. The opera programme includes the UK premiere of The Nose (directed by Yuri Alexandrov) and Katerina Ismailova (directed by Irina Molostova) while the ballet programme includes Soviet productions to Shostakovich's music – Leningrad Symphony (choreographed by Igor Belsky, 1961) and The Young Lady and the Hooligan (choreography by Konstantin Boyarsky, 1962), as well as the London premiere of The Golden Age, choreographed by Noah D. Gelber. The festival opens with Shostakovich's operetta Moscow, Cheremushki, also a UK first.

    Alongside the All of Shostakovich's Symphonies programme, which will see the performance of all fifteen symphonies at the renowned Barbican Hall by the world's leading orchestras under Valery Gergiev, the Shostakovich on Stage festival will be one of the most grandiose UK events marking one hundred years since the birth of Shostakovich.

    Loretta Tomasi, Executive Director of the ENO: "It is a great honour for the ENO to have Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Theatre at the London Coliseum, and we are delighted to be taking part in the wonderful programme that our guests are presenting – this festival also enhances the creative activities of the ENO."

    Lady Solti, representing the Mariinsky Theatre Trust, UK: "The aim of the Trust is to help Valery Gergiev bring to life his plans for the development of the Mariinsky Theatre, so we are thrilled to present his Shostakovich on Stage festival in London."

    Valery Gergiev: "It is of great interest to us to present Shostakovich's works for theatre in the UK and I am very pleased to return to the London Coliseum with this programme. It is worth noting that this is a completely non-commercial project, organised by the Mariinsky Theatre Trust and made possible thanks to the fantastic support of our friends in London, the Peter Moores Foundation and the Russian government.

    "There are numerous speculative and unfounded explanations as to why Shostakovich wrote works on certain themes. I want London audiences to have the chance to judge the musical and theatrical quality of Shostakovich's works for themselves and hear, for example, the difference between Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk and Katerina Ismailova. Moreover, I want the public to feel the sharp wit and boundless imagination – qualities so inherent in Shostakovich."

    The festival will see performances by leading Mariinsky Theatre soloists: singers Olga Sergeyeva, Larisa Gogolevskaya, Tatiana Pavlovskaya, Gennady Bezzubenkov, Vladimir Vaneyev, Oleg Balashov, Yevgeny Akimov, Viktor Lutsyuk and Vladislav Sulimsky and dancers Ulyana Lopatkina, Diana Vishneva, Daria Pavlenko and Igor Zelensky.

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    XIV International Festival of Arts The Stars of the White Nights

    ONE HUNDRED YEARS SINCE THE BIRTH OF DMITRY SHOSTAKOVICH
    10 May – 19 July 2006
    Artistic Director – Valery Gergiev

    With the support of its general partner Vneshtorgbank, CIT Finance Investment Bank,
    Severstal-Group and Sberbank the Mariinsky Theatre is presenting
    the XIV International Festival of Arts The Stars of the White Nights

    Over ten weeks, the festival,
    which marks one hundred years since the birth of Dmitry Shostakovich,
    will present around one hundred performances and concerts.

    Major festival events:

  • the cycle All of Shostakovich's Symphonies will see the performance of all fifteen of this outstanding 20th century composer for the first time as part of one symphonic series with the Mariinsky Symphony Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra under conductors Maxim Shostakovich, Christoph Eschenbach, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Paavo Jarvi, Maris Yansons and – of course – Valery Gergiev.

  • the cycle Shostakovich on Stage includes the composers operas The Nose and Katerina Ismailova, the operetta Moscow, Cheryomushki, the ballets The Overcoat after Gogol, Leningrad Symphony to music by Shostakovich and the premiere of the ballet The Golden Age (28 and 29 June) with choreography by Noah D. Gelber.

  • gala concert marking one hundred years since the birth of Dmitry Shostakovich with the Moscow Soloists chamber ensemble under Yuri Bashmet (3 July).

  • popular operas and ballets by Tchaikovsky from the Mariinsky Theatre Repertoire as part of the the Tchaikovsky Classics programme (14-21 May).

  • Richard Wagner's tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen in Russia (13-17 June).

  • symphony concerts featuring pianists Yefim Bronfman (24 June) and Tzimon Barto (3 June) and violinist Leonidas Kavakos (24 June), who have taken part in previous festivals, and festival concert debuts by pianists Sergei Babayan (30 May), Anika Vavich (29 June) and Denis Matsuev (6 July).

  • international opera stars in performances and concerts: Vladimir Galuzin as Canio in Leoncavallo's I pagliacci (23 June) and Herman in Tchaikovsky's The Queen of Spades (2 and 4 June) and a solo concert (12 June); German bass Rene Pape as Filippo II in Verdi's Don Carlo (30 June); Maria Gulegina as Abigaille in Verdi's Nabucco; Renee Fleming's solo concert (27 June); prima ballerina Ulyana Lopatkina as Odile-Odette in Swan Lake (1, 3 and 9 June) and her debut in Leningrad Symphony (3 July).

  • the playbill for the ballet company is in honour of 120 years of the Mariinsky Ballet Company.

  • the programmes Italian Masterpieces and Russian Masterpieces include the theatre's repertoire productions and this season's premieres.

  • other festival events include a performance of Mozart's Requiem to mark 250 years since his birth with the Philharmonia of the Nations under Justus Frantz (28 June) and the opera Cosi fan tutte under Austrian maestro Manfred Honeck (5 July).


    The festival opens on 10 may with a revival of Andrei Tarkovsky's legendary production of Boris Godunov. The production appeared in the theatre's repertoire in 1990, the first co-production of the Mariinsky Theatre and London's renowned Covent Garden. The production proved a great success and was performed until 1994, after which it was staged at other leading opera houses. Valery Gergiev will be conducting, with Vladimir Ognovenko as Boris and Vasily Gerello as Shchelkalov.

    The leitmotif of the XIV International Stars of the White Nights Festival is the cycle All of Shostakovich's Symphonies: they will be performed over eleven concerts during the festival. The series is a continuation of the ambitious project initiated by Valery Gergiev together with renowned orchestras in Russia and abroad in connection with the centenary since the birth of this outstanding composer. The project has already seen performances in New York and London, where the cycle of all fifteen symphonies will also run in 2006. There is also an educational element to the project in presenting the composer's less popular symphonies. The project will see performances by the Mariinsky Theatre Symphony Orchestra under Christoph Eschenbach (3 June, Fifth Symphony), Esa-Pekka Salonen (21 June, Ninth Symphony), Paavo Jarvi (29 June, Tenth Symphony), Maris Yansons (6 July, Sixth Symphony) and – of course – Valery Gergiev (5 June, Third and Thirteenth Symphonies; 20 June, Seventh Symphony; 22 June, First and Fourth Symphonies; 24 June, Second Symphony; 10 July, Eighth and Eleventh Symphonies). The anniversary cycle opens on 13 May with the composer's son Maxim Shostakovich, who will conduct his father's last two symphonies. Maxim Shostakovich conducted the world premiere of the Fifteenth Symphony when his father was still alive. The programme also includes the participation of the London Symphony Orchestra, one of the best ensembles in the world, which is visiting St Petersburg for the first time under the baton of Valery Gergiev, its future Principal Conductor.

    In addition to Shostakovich's symphonic legacy the theatre will also be running the Shostakovich on Stage cycle. Audiences will have the chance to see both of the composer's operas, rarely performed in repertory theatres – The Nose (25 June), which met with sensational success at the Opera Bastille during an autumn tour to France, and Katerina Ismailova (31 May); the Mariinsky Theatre premiere of the operetta Moscow, Cheryomushki (27 June), and ballets to music by the composer The Overcoat after Gogol choreographed by Noah D. Gelber, Igor Belsky's Leningrad Symphony (13 May) and Konstantin Boyarsky's The Young lady and the Hooligan (3 July). The festival includes the premiere of the ballet The Golden Age (28 and 29 June), staged by Noah D. Gelber. This ballet is being staged at the Mariinsky Theatre for the first time since the 1930 premiere. This programme will also be shown at the Shostakovich on Stage festival which runs from 20–29 July at the London Coliseum. British audiences will have the opportunity to see all of the composer's works for musical theatre for the first time.

    The Tchaikovsky Classics programme (14-21 May), which includes the composer's classic works from the Mariinsky Theatre repertoire, will see performances of all of his ballets – Chemiakin and Simonov's The Nutcracker, Swan Lake and the 1890 version of The Sleeping Beauty and the operas Eugene Onegin, The Queen of Spades (staged by Temirkanov with Yuri Marusin as Herman), The Enchantress (with Valery Alekseyev as Prince Kurlyatev) and Mazepa (Mazepa – Valery Alekseyev).

    Much of the opera programme consists of Russian Masterpieces, including works by Glinka, Musorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov and Borodin. Each performance has outstanding casts: Larisa Diadkova (Marfa) and Vladimir Ognovenko (Ivan Khovansky) in Musorgsky's Khovanshchina (11 May), Nikolai Putilin as Tomsky in Tchaikovsky's The Queen of Spades (2 June) and Prince Igor in Borodin's Prince Igor (8 June) and Gennady Bezzubenkov as Susanin in Glinka's A Life for the Tsar (22 May) and Prince Yuri Vsevolodovich in The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maiden Fevronia (6 June).

    Another festival highlight is the Italian Masterpieces programme. Works by Italian composers make up a significant part of the theatre's opera repertoire. During the festival there will be performances of Verdi's Don Carlo, La forza del destino – specially written for the Russian Opera Company in 1862 – and three premieres from the current season Verdi's Nabucco and Falstaff and Leoncavallo's I pagliacci with the premiere cast: Vladimir Galuzin (Canio), Valery Alekseyev (Tonio) and Tatiana Borodina (Nedda). The Italian opera programme also includes Rossini's Il viaggio a Reims, performed by the Mariinsky Academy of Young Singers. This co-production with Paris' Theatre du Chatelet won great public acclaim both in Russia and on tour to France in December, and was awarded a Golden Mask, Russia's greatest theatre prize. The festival will see performances by renowned German bass Rene Pape, who makes his festival debut this year as Gurnemanz in Wagner's Parsifal, in addition to performing his greatest role – Filippo II in Verdi's Don Carlo (30 June) alongside Vasily Gerello as Rodrigo; Vladimir Galuzin, the famed Mariinsky Theatre tenor, will perform as Canio in Leoncavallo's I pagliacci, one of the greatest tenor roles (23 June); Maria Gulegina, one of the world's leading dramatic sopranos, will perform at the Mariinsky Theatre for the first time as Abigaille in Verdi's Nabucco (1 July) alongside Nikolai Putilin as Nabucco.

    The festival includes a repeat performance of Wagner's tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen (13-17 June). Eduard Napravnik staged the first production of The Ring in Russia at the Mariinsky Theatre over one hundred years ago, although in Russian according to performing practice of the times. In 2003 Valery Gergiev tackled Wagner's immense work in the original German. The production has since been staged not just in St Petersburg and Moscow but on tour to Germany (Baden-Baden), South Korea and Japan. Next season will see performances in the USA – in October 2006 at the Orange County Festival and in July 2007 at the Metropolitan Opera, New York. The Mariinsky's Ring has received international critical acclaim as "a truly historic and epoch-making event" (New York Times), proven by the fact that tickets to the performance at the Wales Millennium Centre in December 2006 sold out in four hours. The festival performance will see the participation of renowned Wagnerian singers such as Larisa Gogolevskaya, Olga Savova, Olga Sergeyeva, Mlada Khudolei, Gennady Bezzubenkov, Leonid Zakhozhaev, Nikolai Gassiev, Vasily Gorshkov, Mikhail Kit and Mikhail Petrenko.

    The varied ballet repertoire will honour 120 years of the Mariinsky Ballet Company: in 1886 the ballet company moved from the St Petersburg Bolshoi Theatre to the Mariinsky Theatre. Tracing the history of this great ballet company, the festival has three sections: Imperial Ballet (ballets staged before 1917), the Kirov Ballet (ballets staged in the Soviet era) and the Mariinsky Ballet (the latest additions to the repertoire starting in 1992 when the company's historic name was revived). The best productions in the ballet repertoire will be performed, among them works ranging from Petipa to Balanchine, Lacotte and Forsythe.

    Other major festival events include a performance of the most recent opera premiere – Britten's The Turn of the Screw (24 May, 18 July). No less significant are the solo concerts. Vladimir Galuzin's solo concerts are now a tradition and this year he will be performing on (12 June). American diva Renee Fleming, who performed at the Mariinsky Theatre and in Russia for the first time at the St Petersburg Tercentenary gala concert, will be appearing once again with a solo concert (27 June). Outstanding pianist Yefim Bronfman, one of the greatest interpreters of 20th century music, will be giving a solo concert (25 June).

    This year marks 250 years since the birth of Mozart, and the festival programme includes a performance of his Requiem by the Philharmonia of the Nations under Justus Frantz (28 June) and the opera Cosi fan tutte under Austrian maestro Manfred Honeck (5 July).

    This festival will be the last before the historic theatre building closes for reconstruction and during the festival the theatre will also be using one of the venues allocated for the reconstruction period – the Theatre of Musical Comedy, where there will be ballet galas (16, 17 and 22 June) and the operetta Moscow, Cheryomushki (26 June).

    In line with the tradition begun in 2002, the festival will extend its horizons beyond St Petersburg: on 29 June at the Ivangorod fortress and on 7 July in Vyborg.

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    On 17, 18 and 27 April the Mariinsky Theatre is premiering Benjamin Britten's opera The Turn of the Screw

    On 17 and 18 April Valery Gergiev will be conducting.

    Musical Director and conductor – Valery Gergiev; Stage Director – David McVicar; Movement Director – Andrew George; Set and Costume Designer – Tanya McCallin; Lighting Designer – Adam Silverman; Musical Preparation – Irina Soboleva; Music Coach and Consultant – Steven Maughan; Assistant Conductor – Pavel Smelkov.

    Benjamin Britten left a rich legacy of choral, symphonic, chamber and instrumental works, as well as fifteen unique operas, one ballet and four edited versions of classical English operas. The Turn of the Screw was Britten's eighth opera and was commissioned for the Venice biennale. It was created with the assistance of designer John Piper and his wife Myfanwy, who wrote the libretto and text for the opera, based on the classic English novella by Henry James (1898). The plot of The Turn of the Screw is based on the story of a governess' struggle against the ghosts of recently deceased servants for the souls of two children called Flora and Myles. The unusual interpretation of the motif of coming face to face with ghosts brought the novella closer to the problems of para-psychology, popular in James' era.
    John Piper had been involved in many of Britten's previous operas, and Britten considered his collaboration with Myfanwy Piper highly successful – he would go on to repeat the experiment twice more with Owen Wingrave and Death in Venice. The Turn of the Screw was first staged by the English Opera Group at La Fenice on 14 September 1954, with Britten himself conducting.

    The Turn of the Screw is a two-act chamber opera with a prologue, each act containing eight scenes and eight interlude variations. The composer considered that "chamber opera is the most flexible form to convey the innermost emotions". The opera was written for thirteen musicians and six singers – four females, a tenor and a treble.
    The opera was first performed in the USSR in autumn 1964 by the English Opera Group when they toured with The Turn of the Screw and another two of Britten's operas – The Rape of Lucretia and Albert Herring – to Moscow and Leningrad. Britten himself conducted the performances. The first Russian production was staged by Svyatoslav Richter and Boris Pokrovsky, first at Moscow's December Evenings (1984) and subsequently in Leningrad (1985), where it was performed in concert at the Small Philharmonic Hall. In 1990 at the Mariinsky Theatre (then the Kirov) there was a tour by the ENO with performances of Jonathan Miller and David Ritch's production of The Turn of the Screw. In 2001 the opera was performed at the Hermitage Theatre as part of the project The World of Chamber Opera. There was yet another Russian production by the Experimental Musical Theatre of Yekaterinburg in the 2001-2002 season.

    The Turn of the Screw is not the Mariinsky Theatre's first experience of staging a work by Britten. In summer 1965 the Kirov staged a premiere of the opera Peter Grimes, performed in Russian according to the practice of the times.
    The premiere of this staging of The Turn of the Screw is the Mariinsky Theatre's first production of one of the most famous 20th century English operas and the first English opera performed in the original language.

    The Turn of the Screw is stage director David McVicar's second work for the Mariinsky Theatre. In 2001 he staged a production of Macbeth.
    The Mariinsky Opera Company, familiar with the works of Mozart, Rossini, Verdi, Wagner, Puccini and Strauss, is now turning its attentions to Britten. The opera is being rehearsed by Tatiana Pavlovskaya, Yekaterina Soloveva and Irina Vasilieva (the Governess), Larisa Shevchenko and Elena Vitman (Mrs Grose), Milena Kotlyar, Yekaterina Shimanovich and Lyubov Sokolova (Miss Jessel), Andrei Ilyushnikov and Alexander Timchenko (Prologue, Peter Quint) and Yekaterina Reimkho (Flora). The role of Myles, one of the most difficult and demanding child roles in opera, is being rehearsed by Nikolai Irvi, a young pupil of the Glinka Choral School.

    This production has been made possible thanks to support from the Mariinsky Theatre Trust (UK).

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    Premiere of the opera I pagliacci at the Mariinsky Theatre

    On 3 and 6 April Vladimir Galuzin will be performing the main role
    in the premiere of Ruggero Leoncavallo's opera I pagliacci

    Stage Director and Set Designer – Isabelle Partiot-Pieri, Lighting Designer – Vladimir Lukasevich, Musical Preparation – Alla Brosterman, Principal Chorus Master – Pavel Petrenko. Conductor Tugan Sokhiev is working on the production, having conducted several opera premieres last season including Rimsky-Korsakov's The Tale of Tsar Saltan. Since 2005 Tugan Sokhiev has also been First Guest Conductor of the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, France.

    The brilliant stage history of Ruggero Leoncavallo's opera I pagliacci began with the premiere on 21 May 1892 at Milan's Teatro Dal Verme. It was conducted by the young Toscanini. The premiere enjoyed amazing success – many of the numbers were repeated twice and three times, and the composer received twenty-four curtain calls. Leoncavallo worked on arguably his most popular work determinedly and furiously – "Back to the wall and despairing, but full of resolution for the last battle" (as he later wrote in his autobiography), the composer worked furiously on the opera in an unspoken rivalry with Pietro Mascagni, whose Cavalleria rusticana, after the triumphant premiere at the Teatro Costanzi di Roma, had been staged at every major theatre in Europe for just over a year. The libretto and music for I pagliacci were completed in five months. I pagliacci answers all the canons of verismo aesthetics. It is a theatrical, dramatic and compact opera-play.

    Soon the opera became famous all over Europe, and the Mariinsky Theatre proved no exception. I pagliacci was staged in St Petersburg as early as 1893 by the directing and conducting team of Osip Palechek and Eduard Napravnik. The premiere was performed by outstanding singers of the day – Nikolai Figner and his wife Medea. The opera was staged a second time at the Mariinsky Theatre, by then the Kirov, in 1929 under the direction of Isai Dvorishchin.

    A star cast has been engaged for the new stage version. The main role of Canio, leader of a company of travelling comedians, will be performed by brilliant tenor Vladimir Galuzin, who has a fine reputation not just as a singer but also as an actor. Canio is one of the crowning roles in the tenor repertoire, and it is also being rehearsed by the renowned Yuri Marusin and Alexei Steblyanko. The role of the comedian Tonio will be sung by baritone Valery Alexeyev, who has created many excellent roles at the Mariinsky Theatre, among them Rigoletto in last season's premiere. I pagliacci is also being rehearsed by Tatiana Borodina, Yekaterina Popova and Natalia Timchenko (Nedda), Yevgeny Ulanov and Edem Umerov (Tonio), Vladimir Felenchak, Andrei Ilyushnikov and Alexander Timchenko (Beppe) and Vladimir Moroz, Vladislav Sulimsky and Vladimir Tyulpanov (Silvio).

    The new stage version is being directed by Isabelle Partiot-Pieri: "I am inclined to connect operatic verismo, I pagliacci being written according to its laws, with the phenomenon of neo-realism in Italian cinema which is so very close to us. In my production reality and theatre come together all the time. In one scene stage workers appear, and we also expose the stage space of the Mariinsky Theatre which is normally unseen by audiences.

    I believe that Canio, Tonio and Nedda are like Shakespeare's Otello, Desdemona and Iago. And if in Shakespeare Iago uses Otello to kill Desdemona, then in I pagliacci, too, Tonio places a knife on the table and closes the door of the caravan so that Nedda cannot escape."

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    "New Names" at the Mariinsky Ballet Festival

    On 21 March as Part of the VI International Ballet Festival Mariinsky the Mariinsky Theatre Presents the Programme "New Names"

    The Mariinsky ballet festival is presenting the "New Names" project for the first time, offering the public three one-act ballets staged by young choreographers especially for the Mariinsky Ballet company: Le Bourgeois gentilhomme to music by Richard Strauss, Du Cote de chez "Swan" to music by Leonid Desyatnikov and The Overcoat after Gogol to music by Dmitry Shostakovich. The productions are by young choreographers trained in different dance schools: Nikita Dmitrievsky, a graduate of the Moscow State Academy of Choreography who works with the Nederlands Dans Theater under Jiri Kylian, Alexei Miroshnichenko, a graduate in dance and choreography from the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet and coach of Forsythe's ballets at the Mariinsky Theatre, and Noah D Gelber, a student of the School of American Ballet and dancer with William Forsythe's company and his assistant.
    The premieres continue the tradition over recent years of inviting young contemporary choreographers to the Mariinsky Theatre, without whom the radical changes to the Mariinsky Theatre's repertoire and its image in recent years would not have been possible. In the past the programme has included works by David Dawson, Alexei Miroshnichenko and Kirill Simonov.

    I. LE BOURGEOIS GENTILHOMME – premiere
    Music: Richard Strauss
    Choreography: Nikita Dmitrievsky

    Nikita Dmitrievsky: "For me, Jourdain, a bourgeois gentleman, is like a fish out of water. In any comedy there is a root of tragedy and Jourdain is an image with tragic elements. I staged this ballet after Moliere, merging the internal peripeteia of the play with Strauss' music and attempting to find an appropriate choreographic language for this very music. The result is somewhat ironical in mood. Regarding the form, I have used the lexis of classical dance, but as I have studied various forms and techniques of modern dance myself, it is a mix, a sort of melange of dance languages."
    The premiere is being rehearsed by Irina Golub, Yekaterina Kondaurova, Yevgenia Obraztsova, Islom Baimuradov, Mikhail Lobukhin, Anton Lukovkin, Andrei Merkuriev, Alexei Nedviga, Anton Pimonov and Alexander Sergeyev.

    II. DU COTE DE CHEZ "SWAN" – premiere
    Music: Leonid Desyatnikov
    Choreography: Alexei Miroshnichenko

    Alexei Miroshnichenko: "Desyatnikov combined Proust's story of the Swan and Saint-Saens' wonderful Le Cygne, which Michel Fokine once staged for Pavlova as the famous Dying Swan. The title of Desyatnikov's piece – Du Cote de chez 'Swan' – is a play on words: without the second 'n' in Swann and the word itself in inverted commas it becomes the 'Swan' itself. So, I had to work with the image of the dying swan, Desyatnikov's witty and brilliant music and Proust's complex space, where there is neither past nor future, where the concept of time does not work, everything just 'is' – it's like a split second or a whole eternity. Therefore the beginning and the end, reality and fantasy, dream and actual events are all united, and as a creator working in these conditions I have the right to start my composition from the end."
    The premiere is being rehearsed by Diana Vishneva and Mikhail Lobukhin; Yekaterina Petina and Andrei Merkuriev; Olesya Novikova and Alexander Sergeyev.

    III. THE OVERCOAT AFTER GOGOL – premiere
    Music: Dmitry Shostakovich
    Choreography: Noah D Gelber

    The production of The Overcoat after Gogol has been made possible thanks to support from Die Stiftung der Freunde des Mariinsky Theaters, Germany

    Noah D Gelber: "If I wished to describe my choreography I would choose such adjectives as 'complex', 'multilayered', 'compound', 'intuitive'. 'Painfully attentive to detail' is another description that should be included in this list.
    "My ballet is metaphorical. Although I try to avoid metaphors that can be easily understood. I look for something obscure, distant. I choose my words in the same way. I love using unfamiliar words and do the same thing as a choreographer.
    "I analysed Gogol's key sentences on an emotional and physical level, and then tried to embody my own thoughts in movement. That is how I built the characters. And as I am, after all, interpreting the story, I added a female character, not as a sexual object but as the personification of what is missing in Akaky's life.
    "For Akaky, the new overcoat is his passport to a world of stability and prosperity which has always been beyond his reach. But after our hero gets what he wished for, he is face to face with the questions 'Does he belong in this world'', 'Does he feel comfortable there'', 'Isn't he being unfaithful to himself''"
    The premiere is being rehearsed by Yana Selina, Islom Baimuradov, Maxim Chashchegorov, Andrei Ivanov, Maxim Khrebtov, Fyodor Murashov and Anton Pimonov.

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    Premiere of the Ballet Ondine

    The VI International Ballet Festival Mariinsky presents the premiere of the ballet Ondine to music by Cesare Pugni and staged by Pierre Lacotte at the Mariinsky Theatre on 16 and 17 March.

    From 16-26 March 2006 the Mariinsky Theatre is hosting the VI International Ballet Festival Mariinsky, and, as always, the festival opens with a premiere. This year sees the premiere of Ondine to music by Cesare Pugni, staged by renowned French choreographer Pierre Lacotte who is famed for his stylisations of 19th century ballets and who is staging this work especially for the Mariinsky Ballet Company.
    Pierre Lacotte's collaboration with the Mariinsky Theatre began a quarter of a century ago in 1979 (when it was still the Kirov Theatre), when he staged fragments of ancient choreography for ballet soloists (Cachucha from Le Diable boiteux, the Pas de six from La Vivandie and the Pas de deux from Le Papillon).
    The world premiere of Ondine, ou La naiade to music by Cesare Pugni and choreographed by Jules Perrot took place at Her Majesty's Theatre in London in 1843. In 1851 the choreographer brought the ballet to St Petersburg under the title The Naiad and the Fisherman. The role of the naiad was performed by Carlotta Grisi and that of Matteo by Perrot himself, as he had done at the world premiere in London.

    In 1874 Marius Petipa produced a new version of the ballet, and the next production of The Naiad in 1892 altered the ballet yet further. In 1903 Alexander Shiryaev offered another new version based on Petipa's and Perrot's, with Anna Pavlova as the naiad. Shiryaev, a ballet master and coach, revived the ballet in 1921 for the Petrograd Choreography School. For many years it was not in the theatre's repertoire. The last attempt to revive the ballet at the Mariinsky Theatre came in 1984 when, at a gala evening marking Pyotr Gusev's eightieth birthday, a suite from Jules Perrot's version was performed, having been revived by Gusev himself.

    Pierre Lacotte, who has revived ballets including Schneitzhoffer's La Sylphide (choreography by Philippe Taglioni), Delibes' Coppelia (choreography by Saint-Leon), Adam's Giselle (choreography by Coralli and Perrot), and the Pas de six from Pugni's La Vivandiere (choreography by Saint-Leon), has done a vast amount of research work, restoring Perrot's greatly altered and partially lost choreography:
    "I was always interested in this ballet. Sadly, very little remained of Jules Perrot's choreography in the 1903 revival, and even less in Gusev's 1984 version. I studied the first version of the ballet Perrot staged in London. I only had the violin score written by Pugni and critics' opinions of the production. I was unable to restore the sets and costumes from the documents I had so I created them in a style that I believe dictated the aesthetics of the age."

    Pierre Lacotte used many sources when restoring the ballet, and consulted with the renowned coaches Gustavo Rico and Carlotta Zambelli.
    "Work on Ondine took no less than four years, and now I am happy to stage this ballet here, in St Petersburg, a city that has become home to me, and in a theatre where I think of the entire company as my family."

    The premiere is being rehearsed by Yevgenia Obraztsova, Yekaterina Osmolkina, Viktoria Tereshkina, Diana Vishneva, Andrian Fadeyev, Igor Kolb and Leonid Sarafanov.

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    VI International Ballet Festival MARIINSKY

    From 16-26 March 2006 the Mariinsky Theatre is hosting the VI International Ballet Festival Mariinsky, and, as always, the festival opens with a premiere.
    This year sees the premiere of Ondine to music by Cesare Pugni, staged by renowned French choreographer Pierre Lacotte who is famed for his stylisations of 19th century ballets and who is staging this work especially for the Mariinsky Ballet Company. The production is being supported by the Banque Societe Generale Vostok.

    Another premiere of the festival is the "New Names" programme, with works by three young choreographers: Muscovite Nikita Dmitrievsky (Le Bourgeois gentilhomme to music by Richard Strauss), St Petersburg's Alexei Miroshnichenko (Du Cote de chez "Swan" to music by Leonid Desyatnikov) and New Yorker Noah D Gelber (The Overcoat after Gogol to music by Dmitry Shostakovich). The premieres continue the tradition over recent years of inviting young contemporary choreographers to the Mariinsky Theatre, without whom the radical changes to the Mariinsky Theatre's repertoire and its image in recent years would not have been possible. In the past the programme has included works by David Dawson, Alexei Miroshnichenko and Kirill Simonov.

    Continuing the traditions of the Imperial Ballet of St Petersburg where there were gala concerts for ballerinas and the corps de ballet, a practice revived last year, there will be a series of gala concerts with Nikolai Tsiskaridze, Igor Zelensky and Farukh Ruzimatov. The programmes have been structured to reflect the different artistic styles of the dancers.
    The programme of the festival also includes full-scale ballets in the Mariinsky Theatre repertoire with the participation of international ballet stars from London's Royal Ballet (Alina Cojocaru) and the Opera de Paris (Jose Martinez and Mathieu Ganio).
    The festival comes to a close with a grand Gala Concert in honour of Natalia Makarova with international ballet stars.

    Stars of the festival: Rosario Castro Romero (Compania Suite Espanola), Alina Cojocaru (London's Royal Ballet), Lucia Lacarra (Bayerisches Staatsballett), Agnθs Letestu (Opera de Paris), Ulyana Lopatkina (Mariinsky Theatre), Olesya Novikova (Mariinsky Theatre), Daria Pavlenko (Mariinsky Theatre), Diana Vishneva (Mariinsky Theatre), Ricardo Castro (Compania Suite Espanola), Andrian Fadeyev (Mariinsky Theatre), Mathieu Ganio (Opera de Paris), Charles Jude (Ballet de Bordeaux), Johan Kobborg (London's Royal Ballet), Igor Kolb (Mariinsky Theatre), Jose Martinez (Opera de Paris), Andrei Merkuriev (Mariinsky Theatre), Cyril Pierre (Bayerisches Staatsballett), Farukh Ruzimatov (Mariinsky Theatre), Leonid Sarafanov (Mariinsky Theatre), Nikolai Tsiskaridze (Bolshoi Theatre) and Igor Zelensky (Mariinsky Theatre).

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    The Second Maslenitsa festival at the Mariinsky Theatre (22.022006)

    In the past, Maslenitsa, or "Pancake Week", was one of the major merriments of St Petersburg and it was celebrated in style before the Revolution – there were public fκtes, charity balls and masquerades involving the Mariinsky Theatre. Last season the Mariinsky Theatre revived this wonderful tradition of celebrating Pancake Week and held its first Maslenitsa festival.

    For an entire week the stage of the Mariinsky Theatre will enter the realm of fairytales. Performances including the ballets The Nutcracker (28 February and 5 March, 7 pm) and The Sleeping Beauty (1 March) to music by Tchaikovsky, a Gala Concert by the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet (4 March, 11.30 am), The Magic Nut (5 March 11.30 am), the world premiere of which took place last year at the Mariinsky Theatre (music by Sergei Slonimsky, libretto, sets and costumes by Mikhail Chemiakin and choreography by Donvena Pandoursky), and the operas The Snow Maiden (2 March), The Tale of Tsar Saltan (3 March) and Sadko (4 March, evening) by Rimsky-Korsakov represent a colourful selection of the ballets and operas staged at the Mariinsky Theatre.

    The Maslenitsa festival at the Mariinsky Theatre also has a social and educational programme. Continuing the tradition of open-to-all concerts and performances of the Imperial Theatres, last year's festival held a series of open-to-all concerts in the dress circle foyer to great success, as well as a special children's programme and a Students' Ball at the University of St Petersburg. Over five hundred students from the university and other higher education institutes in St Petersburg came to the ball, having the opportunity not just to listen to the most famous ball scenes from Russian operas (Glinka's A Life for the Tsar, Tchaikovsky's Eugene OneginWar and Peace), but to receive lessons from a choreographer and perform the dances that previously adorned grand balls, the celebration culminating with pancakes and the traditional burning of a straw scarecrow.

    At this year's festival there will also be open-to-all concerts in the dress circle foyer (27 and 28 February) with soloists of the Academy of Young Singers and of the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, a musical performance for children (27 February), a concert by the Academy of Young Singers at the Hermitage Theatre for senior school pupils (1 March), a performance by soloists of the Academy of Young Singers at the St Petersburg Polytechnic University (2 March) and the second students' ball at the University (2 March). This year the festival is expanding beyond the territory of St Petersburg: 4 March will see the Prinarovie 2006 Open Competition of Russian and Estonian Children's Music Schools in Ivangorod, dedicated to the memory of Baron Alexander Stieglitz, an outstanding Russian statesman of the 19th century, financier, industrialist and philanthropist. The jury includes soloists of the Mariinsky Theatre Symphony Orchestra.

    The grand culmination of the festival will be the Mariinsky Theatre's Farewell, Winter! charity ball, to be held at the Great Peterhof Palace on 3 March. The ball will be hosted by Mariinsky Theatre soloist Anna Netrebko.

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    Verdi's Falstaff at the Mariinsky Theatre: One Century On (09.02.2006)

    On 15 and 16 February the Mariinsky Theatre will be presenting one of the most long-awaited premieres of the season with the support of CIT Finance – Giuseppe Verdi's opera Falstaff, which has only been staged once before at the Mariinsky Theatre.

    Working on the premiere are Valery Gergiev (Musical Director and Conductor), Kirill Serebrennikov (Stage Director), Nikolai Simonov (Set Designer), Olga Reznichenko and Kirill Serebrennikov (Costume Designers) and Larisa Gergieva (Musical Preparation).

    Falstaff returns to the theatre's repertoire over one hundred years after the first production there in 1894. The St Petersburg premiere took place just one year after the opera's world premiere at Milan's La Scala. The Mariinsky Theatre production was staged by the artistic team of conductor Eduard Napravnik and stage director Osip Palechek. The theatre's designers at the time faithfully recreated the sets of each scene from sketches for the Milan production. The most outstanding singers of the age were engaged in the production, among them Arkady Chernov, Fyodor Stravinsky, Yevgenia Mravina and Maria Slavina.

    The stage history of Falstaff in Russia is relatively brief. It was staged only twice in St Petersburg. In December 2005 Valery Gergiev conducted the opera company in a successful concert version of Verdi's opera at a festival in Israel. The theatre is now restoring the composer's last masterpiece to the St Petersburg stage.

    Among those rehearsing for the premiere are Viktor Chernomortsev and Edem Umerov (Sir John Falstaff), Alexander Gergalov, Vasily Gerello and Alexei Safiulin (Ford), Daniil Shtoda, Dmitry Voropaev and Andrei Ilyushnikov (Fenton), Nikolai Gassiev and Andrei Popov (Dr Cajus), Yuri Vorobev, Grigory Karasev and Mikhail Petrenko (Pistola), Andrei Bobrov and Vasily Gorshkov (Bardolfo), Tatiana Pavlovskaya and Oxana Shilova (Mrs Alice Ford), Lyudmila Dudinova, Yulia Smorodina and Olga Trifonova (Nannetta, Ford and Alice's daughter), Mziya Nioradze and Lidiya Bobokhina (Mrs Quickly) and Anna Kiknadze and Elena Sommer (Mrs Meg Page).

    Stage Director Kirill Serebrennikov says of the production: "Falstaff is a parable. There is a great deal of sadness in this opera. It is not so very comic. And the story is cruel, so it is impossible to stage Falstaff today without cruelty. None of these sylphs could scare Falstaff if the story is set in our own time, you need something else. And we opted for a solution that is a little cruel and somewhat unusual…"

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    A Starry New Year at the Mariinsky Theatre

    In late December and early January Valery Gergiev will be conducting a series of performances with stars of the Mariinsky Opera Company.
    On 21 December a star cast is engaged for Musorgsky's Khovanshchina – Sergei Aleksashkin, Vladimir Vaneyev, Alexei Steblianko, Valery Alexeyev and Yevgeny Akimov (making his debut in the role of Andrei). Marfa will be performed by Olga Borodina, whose interpretation is considered one of the finest.
    The Mariinsky Theatre is staging Dmitry Shostakovich's orchestration of Khovanshchina, the current production being a revival of the famous Baratov and Fyodorovsky production.

    On 26 December Olga Borodina will be performing again, this time in a work by Verdi. Borodina will be performing as Princess Eboli in Don Carlo, one of her best roles. She will be partnered by Irina Gordei (Elisabeta), Vladimir Vaneyev (Filippe II) and Sergei Aleksashkin (Inquisitor).
    The cast announced for this performance can truly communicate the drama of Verdi's opera with unbelievable force.

    28 December will see a performance of one of the most successful works in the Mozart repertoire – renowned German director Johannes Schaaf's staging of Don Giovanni. Performing the opera on the threshold of the New Year is highly symbolic as 2006 has been announced as the Year of Mozart by UNESCO to celebrate 250 years since the composer's birth. This December performance has a star-studded cast of young Mariinsky Theatre singers, for whom the opera was staged in 1999 – Yevgeny Nikitin (Don Giovanni), Ildar Abdrazakov (Leporello), Tatiana Pavlovskaya (Donna Elvira), Mikhail Petrenko (Masetto) and Yevgeny Akimov (Don Ottavio), now famous in the music world and regular performers at the world's leading opera houses.

    New Year Week at the Mariinsky Theatre comes to a close with the traditional Gala Concert on 31 December with stars of the opera and ballet companies.

    On 2 January Valery Gergiev will be conducting Verdi's magnificent Requiem. The composer rejected the usual canons in his Requiem. His music is notable for its theatrical imagery and colour, linking this work with the composer's late operas. Olga Borodina and Ildar Abdrazakov are performing.

    On 3 January there will be a performance of Puccini's La boheme with the brilliant Anna Netrebko and Mexican tenor Rolando Villazon, two singers in great demand all over the globe.
    Anna Netrebko, one of the Mariinsky Theatre's most famous sopranos and a recipient of the State Prize of Russia and of prestigious classical music awards, is often engaged at the world's leading opera houses. Her rise to glory began with the amazing success of her performance in Don Giovanni at the Salzburg Festival, where critics unanimously referred to her as "Salzburg's miracle". The singer has an exclusive recording contract with Deutsche Grammophon, and has released two solo albums and the DVD Anna Netrebko. The Woman. The Voice.
    When Luciano Pavarotti announced he was leaving the stage, the music world quickly determined his replacement in the famous Pavarotti-Domingo-Carreras trio – young Mexican tenor Rolando Villazon. He is often also compared to Placido Domingo – in musical circles he is known as the "piccolo Domingo". Critics generally stinting in such metaphoric praise refer to his voice as "chocolaty, agile and passionate". And when it comes to Villazon 's performing instincts, his detailed attention to style, his clever phrasings, his talent to convey the musical material with truth and life, he has been likened to Frank Sinatra.
    The performance on 3 January will be a double debut for the couple: Anna Netrebko will be singing as Mimi for the first time and it will be Rolando Villazon 's first appearance in St Petersburg.
    Olga Trifonova, Yevgeny Nikitin and Vladimir Tyulpanov are also engaged in the performance. Valery Gergiev will be conducting.

    On 4 January Valery Gergiev will conduct Verdi's Aida. Since its premiere in 1877 it has been staged at the theatre five times, the current production most effectively conjuring up the opera's Egyptian flavour.
    The lead roles are to be performed by Irina Gordei, Akhmed Agadi, Larisa Diadkova, Mikhail Petrenko and Viktor Chernomortsev.

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    Tour of the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Musical Theatre at the Mariinsky Theatre (21.11.2005 - 4.12.2005)

    From 21 November to 4 December 2005 the "Vladimir Smolkin Production Centre" presents the tour of the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Musical Theatre at the Mariinsky Theatre. One of Russia's leading theatres, the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Musical Theatre has performed in St Petersburg several times. The scale of this tour, however, with all the company's leading opera and ballet soloists, is a first.

    The third largest theatre in Russia has appeared in St Petersburg before. In 1928 in Leningrad there were performances by the Stanislavsky Opera Company, and in 1937 by the Nemirovich-Danchenko Musical Theatre. The last tour by the company was in 1987. In 2003 the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Opera Company performed Madama Butterfly at the Mariinsky Theatre as part of the Golden Mask festival, receiving a warm response from the public in addition to being awarded Russia's Golden Mask prize in four categories. The forthcoming tour, however, is unprecedented in scale. For the first time, both the opera and ballet companies will be staging their finest productions in St Petersburg.

    The tour opens with a concert performance of Fidelio on 21 November at the Great Hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. This unique international project celebrates two centuries since the premiere of Beethoven's only opera. From 22 November to 4 December, there will be performances of three operas and two full-length and two one-act ballets at the Mariinsky Theatre as well as one more opera in concert. There will also be a gala concert by soloists of the opera company.

    The theatre's leading soloists are taking part in the tour. Prokofiev's comic opera Betrothal in a Monastery will be performed by a glittering cast including Khibla Gerzmava, Elena Manistina and People's Artists of Russia Vyacheslav Voinarovsky and Anatoly Loshak. Olga Guryakova, already known to Petersburg audiences for her numerous appearances at the Mariinsky Theatre under the baton of Valery Gergiev, will be performing the role of Mimi in La boheme. The tour will give music lovers the chance to hear the opera Ernani, one of Giuseppe Verdi's earliest works, with Irina Arkadieva, Moscow City Prize recipient Mikhail Urusov and People's Artist of Russia Yevgeny Polikanin.

    The tour programme includes two productions rarely performed outside Moscow. The opera Carmen and the ballet Romeo and Juliet both require complicated sets to be installed and are not frequently taken on tour. Audiences in St Petersburg are therefore fortunate as both productions are to be performed during the tour.

    The ballet programme includes the company's calling card – the legendary Vladimir Burmeister production of Swan Lake – and one-act ballets by renowned choreographer Dmitry Bryantsev, originally from St Petersburg, who has directed the famous Moscow ballet company for nineteen years. The theatre's ballet dancers to perform in St Petersburg include stars such as People's Artists of Russia Tatiana Chernobrovkina, Natalia Ledovskaya and Viktor Dik, Honoured Artists of Russia Natalia Krapivina, Oxana Kuzmenko, Dmitry Zababurin and Anton Domashov and International Competition prize-winners Georgi Smilevski and Roman Malenko.

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    Richard Wagner's Parsifal.
    Conducted by Valery Gergiev (02.11.2005)

    Legend is the best word to describe Wagner's Parsifal. Both the subject of the opera and the way it has been perceived both in the past and in the present are mythological in several senses. Even the name of the opera is shrouded in legend – one version has it that it comes from the Arabic parsi (pure) and fal (simple) and another that it comes from the French perce (penetrates) and val (valley).

    The opera is based on a highly mystical and popular Medieval tale about the Holy Grail, the Knights of the Grail, King Amfortas who fell victim to the beautiful seductress Kundry, the evil magician Klingsor and the pure-of-soul Parsifal, who came to restore the integrity of the world. The main characters of the story and Wagner's unbelievably powerful and ecstatic music make this opera unsurpassed in terms of the power it has over audiences.

    The great composer's last work is imbued with motifs of ancient mythology, medieval epos, Eastern philosophy and Christian mysticism. The Mariinsky Theatre's 1997 staging of Parsifal by Tony Palmer was the first production of the opera in Russia for a long time. Due to the thirty-year-long ban of the work, staged in Bayreuth in 1882, and the exclusive ownership of the work over these years, it was first performed in Russia only in 1913 at the Grand Theatre of the House of the People in St Petersburg then in 1914 at the St Petersburg Theatre of Musical Drama. Parsifal subsequently disappeared from the repertoires of Russian theatres. On 11 May 1997 the opera was performed for the first time at the Mariinsky Theatre under the baton of Valery Gergiev.

    Director Tony Palmer draws the audience into a world of ritual, turning the whole auditorium into a massive theatrical space: singers with spears and swords in the aisles, brushing against the audience with their cloaks of bast mat, and the voices of angels (a children's chorus) flowing down from the third tier. The theatre is also used to evoke the Wagnerian mystery of a special acoustic image: the gloomy voice of the Knight Titurel from the grave in dialogue with his son, coming from somewhere above; and from the foyer one can hear the distant chorales of brass that are answered instantly by the strings in the orchestra pit. Light spots flicker around the auditorium; at key moments of the action poignant images of the Virgin Mary and the ascetic face of Christ, depicted in the Orthodox icon tradition, are projected onto the backdrop. Among those engaged in the performance are soloists Gennady Bezzubenkov, Olga Savova and Alexei Steblianko.

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    The Mariinsky Theatre to Open Its 223rd Season

    On 20 September the Mariinsky Theatre will open its 223rd season. The opening night will see a performance of one of the most Petersburg of operas – Alexander Galibin's staging of The Queen of Spades. Valery Gergiev will be conducting, and the lead role – Vladimir Galuzin (Herman) and Anna Shafazhinskaya (Lisa). Both performers will be appearing again on 26 September in Turandot.
    The 223rd season is the last before the theatre closes for reconstruction. In the 2006–2007 season the Mariinsky Opera and Ballet Companies will be performing in other theatres in St Petersburg.

    The playbill for the coming season includes many interesting productions, among them Britten's The Turn of the Screw (directed by David MacVickar) and two operas by Verdi – Nabucco (directed by Dmitry Bertman) and Falstaff (directed by Kirill Serebrennikov).
    The theatre's Verdi repertoire is already relatively extensive, comprising La traviata, Rigoletto, Un ballo in maschera, Macbeth, Don Carlo, Aida and Otello. The theatre is now turning its attentions to Nabucco, the opera with which Verdi claimed his career began. And, as if to encompass all the works by the great composer, the theatre is setting its sights on his last opera Falstaff, a reformist work in the comic opera genre.
    The appearance of Britten's opera in the Mariinsky Theatre playbill is an event in itself. In taking one of the composer's most original works, the theatre is turning to British music and opera performed in English.

    The 223rd season will see the now traditional Mariinsky Theatre festivals. The VI International Ballet Festival Mariinsky will run from 16 to 26 March, deservedly acclaimed by ballet critics and immensely popular among the public.
    From 27 May to 16 June the theatre will run the XIV International Stars of the White Nights festival of arts under the artistic direction of Valery Gergiev. The Stars of the White Nights will doubtless prove one of the highlights of the season, once again presenting residents of St Petersburg and visitors to the city with unique programmes of operas, ballets and symphony music.
    Last season the Mariinsky Theatre began to revive the Russian tradition of the festive seeing-off of winter and ran the Maslenitsa festival for the first time. This will be repeated once again in February-March 2006.

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