Genius of ballet opens the opera festival

Genius of ballet opens the opera festival Photo: Maksim Platonov

The Opera International Festival named after Chaliapin opened on 1 February in the Tatar State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre named after Musa Jalil. This year the festival has been held for the thirty-sixth time. Read the details in the article of Realnoe Vremya.

''The Chaliapin's festival is incredible''

Let us recall that Chaliapin's festival, which opened on 1 February, is the oldest in Russia. Created in the early eighties of the last century by director of the theatre Raufal Muhametzyanov, it became the first opera festival on the entire territory of the USSR. It has grown out of events of local significance to the fest of the international level.

The festival is essentially traditional, and that's its thing. It does not chase the latest trends, remaining unchanged, and it has the right to it. The Chaliapin festival was initially positioned as the festival of voices, and it still remains such and acquaints the audience with interesting soloists. This is its charm — the Kazan fest is beyond changeable and capricious fashion, music lovers like it for its stability and predictability.

This time it has also been traditional: a full house, timid cries at the main entrance to the theatre ''Is there any extra ticket?'', smartly dressed audience, and the Chaliapin fest is also the opportunity to ''take out'' toilets, costumes from performances, which one can not only look but also touch with hands in ''pink living room'', the string quartet in the grand foyer and the feeling of festivity that one has been waiting for the whole year.

Anyway, the beginning of the festival fell out of common usual range: even at the closed curtain, on the stage there came the USSR people's artist, choreographer and ballet dancer, legendary Vladimir Vasiliev. He specially came to Kazan to open the thirty-sixth festival, dedicated this year to the 145th anniversary of Feodor Chaliapin, the great countryman of Kazan citizens.

Vasiliev, as always extremely charismatic and charming, addressed to the audience with an emotional speech, ''I am happy that today I am being on this famous scene — the scene that has seen so many great artists. The Chaliapin festival is an extraordinary, unique festival, unique and brilliant performers were there. And, of course, the bar of this festival was set by Chaliapin himself. Because I don't know a man who would be greater in the musical life. Everyone is trying to reach this peak — Chaliapin's. And no one has reached. Feodor himself never considered that he had achieved everything. I recently have reread his memoir, Man and Mask: Forty Years in the Life of a Singer, he was a man of many talents — he wrote, sculpted, and painted beautifully. And, most importantly, he set the highest level,'' Vladimir Vasiliev shared his thoughts.

Vasiliev noted that the main driving force of the festival was director of the Tatar State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre named after Jalil Raufal Mukhametzyanov, thanks to him, the festival is alive and developing. ''It's amazing how many different performances have been staged over this years. What is more, every festival begins with a premiere,'' noted Vladimir Vasiliev.

As for festival participants, almost all Russian opera ''stars'' were among its participants.

Nabucco. Take two

The festival opened with the premiere of Verdi's Nabucco. It is the second opera on the Kazan stage: the first was in 2003 and directed by Italian director, now living in Berlin, Denis Krief. The play was successful for nearly 15 years not only on the Kazan stage, but also in Europe, and particularly the interest to this masterpiece by Verdi made the theatre to do the new performance.

The director of the new version of Nabucco has become Yefim Maizel, known to Kazan citizens by the opera Il trovatore. The director at the time graduated from the Conservatory in St. Petersburg, he was a disciple of famous Novel Tikhomirov (the music lovers, of course, remember his famous opera film Eugene Onegin), but he has long moved to the United States for permanent residence, now he lives in New York and he is an assistant to staging of Russian operas at the Metropolitan Opera. Of course, he also stages opera performances as a director on other stages as well.

The distinctive feature of Maizel, coming from the tradition of his alma mater, is psychology. His staging Nabucco was physiological. The power struggle for the throne is only one aspect of the performance. For the director, no less important are human relationships: the love triangle Abigail-Ismail-Fenena, Nabucco's relationships with his daughters. Maizel could create a vivid psychological canvas, where, in addition to the main characters, a big role is given to the chorus. The choir in its turn once again demonstrated their skills under the leadership of Lyubov Draznina.

In the framework of the Chaliapin festival, this year it is planned a large enlightening programme: meetings with its top-end participants take place in the Actor House, and the theatre holds a round-table discussion on further development of the fest, where leading Russian music critics will express their wishes.

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