Alexey Rybnikov: ''It is a risky experiment to work in the academic way today''

Alexey Rybnikov: ''It is a risky experiment to work in the academic way today'' Photo: Oleg Tikhonov

Alexey Rybnikov, the author of the cult rock opera The Star and Death of Joaquin Murrieta, Juno and Avos and many other works, has recently become a guest of Relanoe Vremya online conference. What has brought him to Kazan, his attitude to modern opera productions, about how at the beginning of the difficult nineties he opened his own theatre in Moscow – read in the material of Realnoe Vremya.

''The Kazan opera will withstand''

This Alexey Rybnikov's visit to Kazan has been not the first one. He came to the capital of Tatarstan for the first time at the age of 19, when he wrote a children's ballet and offered it to the then directorate of the opera theatre. They liked the ballet, but for some reason it did not work out, the Russian ministry of culture didn't approve it. Some time ago, Rybnikov visited the city for another reason — the Tatarstan National Symphony Orchestra performed his compositions. This time the composer has been a guest of the International Opera Festival named after Chaliapin, which is being held in Kazan.

''Kazan is associated with the brightest moments of my life. And now, I've come here to discover for myself the Tatar State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre named after Musa Jalil. I went to the first performance of the Chaliapin festival, the premiere of the opera Nabucco, and it also was a discovery for me. Great orchestra, great choir, and this achievement is not only of the Republic of Tatarstan, but also of the whole our great country,'' Alexey Rybnikov said.

He is planning a creative cooperation with the Kazan Opera. ''We are making our first steps to our cooperation, and we have a subject of this cooperation. We are going to meet with director of the theatre Raufal Muhametzyanov and although it is difficult to speak about any specific date right now yet, maybe somewhere around 2020 we will appoint in Kazan the premiere of my composition,'' commented the composer, not calling neither the genre nor the title of the work that he would like to see on the Kazan stage.

Kazan is associated with the brightest moments of my life. And now, I've come here to discover for myself the Tatar State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre named after Musa Jalil

It was interesting to ask Rybnikov about his impressions of the premiere in Kazan. Alexey Rybnikov responded very thoroughly and specifically, ''Everything that is done on the stage of this theater, and I have also watched the videos on the Internet, have amazed me. This is a high world level. It should be judged not by the standards of this theatre, but by the standards of the world opera. By these standards, the Kazan Opera Theatre meets the expectations of the most demanding opera audience.''

The conversation naturally touched on the recurrent criticisms of the Kazan theatre for academicism and the absence of risky experiments. ''It is a risky experiment to work in the academic way today, and few dares. Today they are bending over backwards, the works of the seventeenth century are transferred to the twenty-third century, they do so many things. With the only aim not to do like it was intended by the author. But for me, the author is sacred. If young people get acquainted with opera works, they should know and understand what the author wrote. Not something that was invented by a director, who today is popular but tomorrow he's gone and that's it. But the experience of the audience, especially young, will be already poisoned. They will think that it is Verdi or Mozart wrote. But Mozart and Verdi did not write that. Therefore, there must be the starting point. In the theater, there should be classic performances.

There also should be experimental ones, of course. But if there is no classics, the experiment loses its value. The preservation of traditions — that is what helped the Kazan Opera Theatre to survive. And theatre courageously withstands the confrontation. And I think, theatre will withstand. About the rest – I don't know,'' Alexey Rybnikov designated his position.

''The theatre opened in 1992''

Alexey Rybnikov has his own theatre in Moscow. He opened it during one of the toughest periods for the country — in 1992 the theater began to exist in a basement, with a small hall. Rybnikov decided to create his own theater for the reason that in the country there were no institutions that would stage performances in the genre he wrote — rock operas, musical mystery plays, mixed music genres, synthetic theatres. He had to create such theater by himself. In Moscow, many were closed, but in the theater on Povarskaya Street Rybnikov opened his own theater. Until today, nobody, except Rybnikov, has created such an ensemble.

It is a risky experiment to work in the academic way today, and few dares. Today they are bending over backwards, the works of the seventeenth century are transferred to the twenty-third century, they do so many things. With the only aim not to do like it was intended by the author. But for me, the author is sacred

A year later, there appeared an art patron, and then the Rybnikov's theatre was unexpectedly invited on tour in the US. The first performance was held in the hall for a half thousand people. It was the performance The Liturgy of the Catechumens, for this production the theater was created.

''It was the mid-nineties. Everything was closing, composers were moving to other places, Maksim Dunayevsky — in America, Zatsepin — France, Tukhmanov — Germany. The country was not adapted to creativity, everyone had to survive. But god helped us. After the tours, the press was wonderful,'' Alexey Lvovich [Rybnikov] recalls.

By the way, he is quite pessimistic about rock today, believing it to be the music of the last century, he says that now he would not write rock operas. According to him, rock has turned from a social, protest phenomena into a commercial one.

By Tatyana Mamaeva. Photo: Oleg Tikhonov