Valery Gergiev presents The Firebird to citizens of Kazan

Easter Festival arrived in Kazan

The capital of Tatarstan became the first city where concerts of the Easter Festival headed by its art director Valery Gergiev for the 16 th time took place. On 17 April, the maestro, orchestra and soloists of the Mariinsky Theatre gave two concerts in Saidashev State Big Concert Hall. Naberezhnye Chelny was going to receive the Easter Festival on 18 April.

Red square

A banner was placed above the stage of the Tatarstan Big Concert Hall – it was a red square. As it is known, red is the colour of Easter. An Easter egg was featured on the square – it is a symbol of life. The Easter Festival whose concert programme arrived in Kazan due to support of Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov began in Moscow, it is a tradition. Then they went to Kazan by train and will travel across the country then. Gergiev and his orchestra gave two concerts in Kazan. A traditional charity concert took place in the afternoon, Mahler's Symphony No. 4 was in the programme. The second concert was held in the evening also to a full house.

The evening concert was 30 minutes late, but spectators did not grumble. Everyone understood it was a great labour to perform two programmes in a row. Musicians needed a short break. The third bell rang, and the spectators accommodated in the overcrowded hall, the orchestra occupied its seats, and not Gergiev but Metropolitan of Kazan and Tatarstan Feofan opened the programme. First of all, the concert is dedicated to Easter. Secondly, His Eminence and Valery Gergiev are friends. They helped people together when a conflict with Georgia broke out in Ossetia.

Gergiev and his orchestra gave two concerts in Kazan

His Grace appeared on the stage and took the microphone immediately: ''Dear friends, brothers and sisters. Today we are not witnesses but participants of a great event in the cultural life of Tatarstan because the Easter Festival, which opened yesterday in Moscow, is travelling across great Russia. Kazan had the honour to meet great Gergiev with his wonderful collective. It is difficult to speak about him because many things mixed with what was gifted by God. Of course, he is not just a talented person, not one of many, it is the one and only Gergiev! Not only Russia but the whole world knows him. The best world halls pay homage to his talent.

Representatives of different cultures pay homage to genius Gergiev and his collective, of course. A real symphony is here, a creation of the sky with a talent given by God is here on Earth. Concert halls stay still from this miraculous, divine music. And you wonder who Gergiev is. First of all, it is the greatest son of our Earth, maestro, diplomat, musician, hero, representative of the highest culture and fearless fighter. I remember he went to fire-breathing Syria with this wonderful collective right from here last year. I want to say that we love you, maestro, we appreciate your talent as director who gathered such a wonderful collective,'' Metropolitan Feofan addressed the spectators and Gergiev who appeared from the wings. His speech was emotional, accurate and heartfelt, as usual. His Grace presented Valery Gergiev a copy of the icon of Our Lady of Kazan having noted one can't leave Kazan without that icon. According to Easter tradition, both the maestro and metropolitan kissed three times.

Apart from Tatarstan, the educational project of Valery Gergiev will visit another 72 cities

From Verdi to Glinka

The concert programme that Valery Gergiev brought was long and rich. It consisted of two parts. If the first one was dedicated to Italian music, Russian music sounded in the second.

The concert started with an overture to opera La forza del destino. In this first concert performance, the orchestra amazed with its sound from the first beat. As for Gergiev's mastery, it is the case when it is absolute and can't be discussed. He has a kind of magic when it seems he does nothing but the orchestra surprisingly obeys him catching not just a stingy gesture – but the conductor's breathing.

Two soloists of the Mariinsky Theatre – Vladislav Sulimsky and Ildar Abdrazakov – took part in the concert. Great baritone Sulimsky astonished the spectators. Many people listened to this charismatic and delicate singer for the first time. Ildar Abdrazakov looked a bit statuesque in comparison with him.

The second part was dedicated to Russian music – Glinka's waltz, a fragment from The Nutcracker, a suite from Stravinsky's The Firebird were performed. The last composition reminded Diaghilev's Russian Seasons. However, a common thing can be found between Diaghilev and Gergiev – both are avid propagandists of the Russian culture.

The Easter Festival continued in Naberezhnye Chelny on 18 April. Apart from Tatarstan, the educational project of Valery Gergiev will visit another 72 cities.

By Tatiana Mamaeva. Photo: Video: Kamil Ismailov