Shalyapin Festival gala concert: a three-hour ovation

All stars on the stage of the Kazan Opera Theatre yesterday and today

Shalyapin Festival gala concert: a three-hour ovation Photo: Maksim Platonov

International Shalyapin Festival is coming to an end. Two traditional gala concerts are like the icing on the cake. The Shalyapin gala concert is a quartet of tenors, loyalty to Ukraine, great Mikhail Kazakov and Evgeny Mikhailov and many other surprises.

Secret of the box

Lowered lamps, candelabras, flowers on the perimeter of the stage and a huge portrait of Shayapin – it is all the décor of the 35 th opera festival's gala concert. It traditionally took place to a full house even if the tickets were not cheap by Kazan standards. Politicians, famous businesspeople and all those who love opera and wait for this event during the year were in the hall.

Elegant Eduard Treskin briefly told Shalyapin's biography, he mentioned Kazan. Treskin reminded the spectators that Shalyapin considered Kazan the best city in the world and always recalled all the good and not very good things that happened to him in his homeland with tears of emotion.

A curious detail is that Fyodor Shalyapin always had a small box in one of his suitcases during all his life. He did not open it in the presence of somebody. The secret of the box was revealed after Shalyapin passed away. A handful of Kazan land was in the box!

As the festival is named after the great bass, the concert could not help but include the Shalyapin repertoire. It was excellently performed by soloist of the Bolshoi Theatre and Kazan Opera Theatre Mikhail Kazakov. He created two polar characters – Mephistopheles and Don Basilio and did it brightly and convincingly. Kazakov has grown a lot in the last years, which is seen in his singing and acting. The latter is very pleasant because if we speak about Shalyapin traditions, the bass carefully created characters.

Evgeny Mikhailov performed the final of Tchaikovsky's Concert No.1 with the orchestra

Another graduate of the Kazan Conservatory pianist Evgeny Mikhailov also showed his skills at the end of the first part. He performed the final of Tchaikovsky's Concert No.1 with the orchestra. Even if the conductor who was behind the desk did not burden with phrasing, Mikhailov demonstrated an amazing technique having made the spectators sad because it was his only performance in the concert.

Sergey Kovnir, a bass from Ukraine, sang a Ukrainian folk song Дивлюсь я на небо except an aria from La Giaconda and was awarded long applauses. Kazan spectators demonstrated again their political correctness and understanding that political games is one thing, and musical space is indivisible.

Four princes

It should be noted that the concert this year (staged by Svetlana Smirnova) was very smartly built. Even a kind of dramaturgy was seen there. Naturally, like any dramaturgy, there were heroes. Vasily Ladyuk is one of them. The baritone from New Opera was gorgeous – whether it was a prologue from Pagliacci or 100% successful in all concerts aria of Robert from Iolanta.

Another favourite of the Kazan audience Ronald Summ was good, as it was forecasted. It goes without saying that there were Sporting Life's verses from Porgy and Bess. It was not the end so far. The current concert gathered four tenors – mentioned Ronald Summ, Sergey Skorokhodov from the Mariinsky Theatre, Nurlan Bekmukhambetov from New Opera and unchangeable favourite of the Kazan music lovers Akhmed Agadi from the Mariinsky Theatre.

A quartet appeared all of a sudden when the tenors were singing Neapolitan songs. Then the four singers performed Calaf's aria from Turandot one by one. If we need to award one of the palm of victory, it should be fairly be given to the owner of the most beautiful voice charismatic Akhmed Agadi.

A performance of two singers who represent the Kazan Opera Theatre Gulnora Gatina and Venera Protasova was very pleasant and touching. The Kazan soloists did not lose against the background of probably more celebrated colleagues. It is good that both are very young, and they have a long way to go.

Elena Maksimova from the Vienna Opera who adorned the gala concert with Seguidilla and Anna Aglatova from the Bolshoi Theatre got their deserved portion of applauses. The Flower Duet performed by Aglatova and Maksimova from Delibes' Lakmé was one of the most beautiful performances of the concert.

This time the singing of the chorus of our opera in the gala concert deserved attention. It performed not a usual function and was a legitimate participant of the evening. A scene of storm from Othello and chorus of witches from Macbeth were done great, with a necessary piece of dramatism and temper.

The final of the concert was beautiful: the orchestra, conductor Marco Boemi and participants of the gala concert were on the stage. It is a pity that we will have to wait for Shalyapin Festival for a year.

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By Tatiana Mamaeva. Photo: Maksim Platonov. Video: Kamil Ismailov