Shalyapin Festival to fill the gaps?

A round-table talk in which theatre critics tried to define the areas the Kazan fest could move in to become more attractive for audience took place during the F. Shalyapin International Opera Festival. Realnoe Vremya tells the details.

''There are free days''

It's no secret that it's not easy to find tickets to the Shalyapin Festival, they're sold out like hot cakes, and all plays are performed to a full house. But it doesn't mean the festival shouldn't think of its further development in the rapidly developing world. The round-table talk where both Kazan critics and their colleagues from federal newspapers were invited for this reason. They came to the Shalyapin Festival.

Dmitry Morozov from Moscow made his offers first. He started to come to the opera festival earlier than many of his colleagues. His first visit to the Shalyapin Festival was in 1989. Although Morozov doesn't see every festival, he has the professional right to consider the festival in motion. ''Every year is different. Sometimes such an all-star cast gathers at the festival so that any Russian theatre will envy. It's doesn't have so many stars at times. At least, we don't feel shame for the playbill, and there are people whom we can listen to. Probably a greater diversity of the repertoire would come in handy in the theatre. But the Kazan opera theatre accomplishes its tasks, and spectators fill the hall,'' Dmitry Morozov noted.

In his opinion, the theatre could pay attention to 20 th century composers, the tendency for ordering authors to make up compositions deliberately for a certain theatre in world theatres is becoming more and more popular. As for the last remark, it wasn't very clear. For instance, The Poet's Love to Rezeda Akhiyarova's music and libretto of Renat Kharis is performed in the Kazan opera. The opera was deliberately created for the Kazan theatre, Syuyumbike of the same authors is in line to be staged.

Dmitry Morozov from Moscow made his offers first. Photo:

''I think it's time the festival crossed the borders of one hall. We look at the festival's playbill and see many gaps there. There are pauses between plays, chamber stagings could be performed, they may have a small budget, make concert programmes,'' Dmitry Morozov made his offers.

The participants of the round-table talk supported all these offers and remembered that the Shalyapin Festival used to have concerts on these days. As for chamber performances, the city has the potential for it – it is both the conservatory and rapidly growing Live City fund with its ambitious projects.

Dmitry Morozov's another offer was about the comeback of the singers' contest that took place during the Shalyapin Festival in the 1990s.

What about guests?

Doctor of Art History, professor from Baku Ulkyar Aliyeva put an example of the opera festival in Minsk. It's considered to be a Christmas festival that traditionally takes place in December. According to Aliyeva, this festival's playbill has plays of other theatres that are intentionally brought to Minsk. Particularly last December, operas from Poland were brought.

Undoubtedly, this practice is interesting. And there was a precedent during the Shalyapin Festival when the Mariinsky Theatre brought its plays. It's difficult to say how possible it's to repeat this experiment. The budget of the M. Jalil Tatar State Academic Theatre isn't big, while it's a costly thing to invite entire plays to participate in the festival. In this respect, Minsk has territorial comforts – the city is close to European countries.

The Maksim Gorky Museum used to have Shalyapin readings simultaneously with the festival. Photo:

The round-table talk participants remembered the former tradition when the Maksim Gorky Museum had Shalyapin readings simultaneously with the festival, the biggest researchers of Shalyapin's art were invited there, his relatives came. Shalyapin readings had a very interesting programme – from presentations of new books about Shalyapin to reports about the latest details of the singer's life and work. Unfortunately, the museum doesn't work actively in this area now, and the theatre can't assume such a scientific function.

''I was pleased to see a message on the theatre's page that the House of Actor would have recitals with the festival's participants, the audience could meet an actor they had seen in a play,'' noted presenter of Orfey radio Nikolay Rybinsky who has been regularly visiting the Shalyapin Festival for more than 20 years.

Critic from Saint Petersburg Gyulyara Sadykh-zade also told about this practice and give an example of the festival in Ekaterinburg that had a tradition of meetings of spectators with actors in the foyer after a play. Spectators always willingly stay for such meetings, which, by the way, don't need any financial costs.

''Shalyapin Festival is a 'successful project''

Doctor of Art History, professor Vadim Dulat-Aleyev was categorical and called the Shalyapin Festival an ''undoubtedly successful project'', which we couldn't help but agree with. The oldest Russian festival that has been existing for more than a third of a century has a historical meaning.

''Our republic has one opera theatre, and we can't lose the academic theatre for the sake of experiments,'' thinks Vadim Dulat-Aleyev. Photo: Maksim Platonov

In Dulat-Aleyev's opinion, the formula of the Shalyapin Festival was established a long time ago, and one shouldn't break it. Its playbill consists of the stagings created in the academic school. As for modern authors' stagings, probably there is a sense in thinking of another festival,'' professor Dulat-Aleyev thinks.

''Thinking of the second festival, it can reflect another tendency, maybe experimental. It can take place in other places, it all is linked with problems of development of opera in our environment. Our republic has one opera theatre, and we can't lose the academic theatre for the sake of experiments,'' Mr Dulat-Aleyev commented.

In general, the participants of the talk agreed that the Shalyapin Festival in Kazan was a big cultural event. Speaking of the offers to make its programme richer and more diverse, probably there is a sense in it. Moreover, the festival has potential, of course.

By Tatiana Mamayeva