Era il gigante dei baritoni. Cittadino del mondo, tenacemente russo, ma sempre siberiano, con la Siberia nel cuore.
Fu la prova vivente di quanto l’arte possa commuovere anche gli spiriti più rozzi.
«Mr. Hvorostovsky was essentially a lyric baritone with a lighter voice. But his distinctive sound — with its russet colorings and slightly hooded quality, combining Russian-style melancholy with velvety Italianate lyricism — was so penetrating, he could send big top notes soaring. He could command the stage, and at his best he was a nuanced actor»
Dmitri Hvorostovsky, the charismatic Siberian baritone who won critical acclaim and devoted fans around the world for his burnished voice, uncanny breath control and rueful expressivity, died on Wednesday in London. He was 55.
Mark Hildrew of Askonas Holt, the talent management agency that represented Mr. Hvorostovsky, said the cause was brain cancer. Mr. Hvorostovsky announced the diagnosis in June 2015 and died in a hospice facility near his London home.
A favorite of audiences thanks to his alluring voice and heartthrob presence, Mr. Hvorostovsky cut a striking figure, his trim 6-foot-1 frame topped by a mane of prematurely white hair.
He also had a compelling personal story: He escaped the street-gang life as a teenager in a grim Siberian city, found his talent there despite the region’s cultural isolation, and overcame a tempestuous drinking problem that could have ruined his career.
Mr. Hvorostovsky was essentially a lyric baritone with a lighter voice. But his distinctive sound — with its russet colorings and slightly hooded quality, combining Russian-style melancholy with velvety Italianate lyricism — was so penetrating, he could send big top notes soaring. He could command the stage, and at his best he was a nuanced actor.
There “have been many beautiful voices,’’ the soprano Renée Fleming said, “but in my opinion none more beautiful than Dmitri’s.”
Early on, Mr. Hvorostovsky (pronounced voh-roh-STOV-ski) excelled as Valentin in Gounod’s “Faust,” Belcore in Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’Amore” and the title role of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni,” which he played with captivating suavity. He brought musical and linguistic authority to Russian opera, especially the title part of Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin,” in which he was peerless.
As his career developed, he was increasingly sought after for his dramatically layered interpretations of Verdi baritone roles, among them Germont in “La Traviata.” He had a close association with the Metropolitan Opera, where he sang some 180 performances of 13 roles there over a career that began in 1995.
He had been scheduled to appear at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in the fall of 2015, but that summer he revealed on his website that he had a brain tumor. An announcement said, “Although his voice and vocal condition are normal, his sense of balance has been severely affected.”
He canceled his summer appearances to undergo treatment in London, his main home since the 1990s, and it seemed doubtful that he would be able to fulfill his commitment to the Met, which had scheduled him to sing six performances in October in a revival of its 2009 production of Verdi’s “Il Trovatore,” with Mr. Hvorostovsky in the lead role of Count di Luna.
On the opening night of the run, the audience erupted in an ovation when he first appeared onstage as the count (in this production, the brash leader of Royalist troops during a time of civil war in Spain). Briefly breaking character, he smiled and placed his hand over his heart in gratitude.
Mr. Hvorostovsky gave a magnificent performance, and during final curtain calls he was showered with white roses thrown by orchestra members. Behind him, his close Russian colleague Anna Netrebko (singing Leonora) wiped away tears.
Looking thinner but determined to continue, Mr. Hvorostovsky returned to New York in February 2016 for a sold-out recital at Carnegie Hall with the pianist Ivari Ilja, his longtime accompanist. He sang a program of Russian songs as well as some German ones by Richard Strauss, including several that seemed to be parting messages to his devoted fans, like Tchaikovsky’s “The Nightingale,” with lyrics by Pushkin, which include these lines:
Dig me a grave In the broad open field At my head plant Flowers of scarlet.
The final ovations were ecstatic.
In an unannounced appearance, Mr. Hvorostovsky returned to the Met in May to take part in the gala concert celebrating the 50th anniversary of the company’s Lincoln Center house. Though unsteady on his feet, he sang a valiant account of the vehement aria “Cortigiani, vil razza dannata” from Verdi’s “Rigoletto,” winning applause and cheers from the audience for this last-minute performance.
Mr. Hvorostovsky’s rise to the pinnacle of opera was improbable.
Dmitri Aleksandrovich Hvorostovsky was born on Oct. 16, 1962, in Krasnoyarsk, a large city in central Siberia. As a center of the Soviet defense industry, the city was mostly closed to foreigners until well into the Gorbachev era.
An only child, Mr. Hvorostovsky lived mostly with his maternal grandmother, whom he adored, and his volatile step-grandfather, a broken-down war hero, whom Mr. Hvorostovsky described in 2003 in a profile in The New Yorker as “vain, arrogant and deeply alcoholic.”
He remained devoted to his father, an engineer, and his mother, a gynecologist. But they both had time-consuming work schedules, and he saw them only on weekends.
That he showed musical talent, at first on the piano, delighted his father, who had wanted to be a musician but had been forced into engineering school by his own father, a Communist die-hard. He arranged for his son to attend music school in the afternoons and evenings.
When that program ended, however, Dmitri, at 14, fell in with street gangs, started drinking vodka, got into brawls and broke his nose several times. Still, he finished high school, and at 16 he was given a new direction when his father enrolled him in a vocational school for choral conductors.
That led to his entering the conservatory in Krasnoyarsk, where he studied with Ekaterina Yoffel, whom Mr. Hvorostovsky remembered as “powerful, possessive, tough, cynical and very honest.” She taught him breath control, and his excellence at sustaining long phrases on a single breath would later be envied by colleagues.
His potential was recognized early on. “I was the most cherished and loved and admired boy,” Mr. Hvorostovsky said in an interview with The New York Times in 2008. He was given a government apartment while still a student.
Soviet music schools at the time paid scant attention to the Italian tradition of bel canto singing, which cultivated evenness through the range, smooth phrasing and the ability to embellish vocal lines with ornamentation. Mr. Hvorostovsky learned this heritage on his own by listening to classic recordings.
He graduated from the conservatory in 1986, just after Mikhail S. Gorbachev came to power and sanctioned greater freedom for artists to travel.
In 1988, at 26, Mr. Hvorostovsky made his first trip outside the Soviet Union, to France, where he won the Concours International de Chant competition. (Freedom still had its limits, however: Two female K.G.B. agents accompanied him.)
The next year, he won the prestigious Cardiff Singer of the World competition in Wales, narrowly beating out the young bass-baritone Bryn Terfel. Debuts followed in Nice, France; Amsterdam; Barcelona, Spain; Venice; and London, where he introduced to Europe roles that would define his later career, including Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin and Yeletsky in “The Queen of Spades,” the role in which he made his Met debut in 1995.
Mr. Hvorostovsky was only in his early 30s when his hair turned almost white. But no matter whether he was portraying a younger man, like the diffident Onegin, or an older one, like Verdi’s troubled Simon Boccanegra, stage directors usually preferred his silvery mane to any wig.
By the later 1990s, however, his performances could be erratic — sometimes dramatically unfocused, sometimes vocally patchy. By his own admission, he was often arrogant with directors and colleagues. The main problem, it became clear, was his drinking.
“I could easily put away two bottles of vodka after a performance,” he told The New Yorker. “I was a noisy, troublesome drunk.”
Alcohol, he acknowledged, contributed to the breakup in 2001 of his first marriage, to Svetlana Hvorostovsky, whom he had married in 1989.
Mr. Hvorostovsky said he stopped drinking on New Year’s Day 2001. He started unwinding after performances, he told The New Yorker, by taking long, hot baths and watching “stupid television.”
That same year he married Florence Illi, a Swiss-born soprano. She survives him, as do their two children, Nina and Maxim; twins from his first marriage, Daniel and Alexandra; and his parents, Alexander and Lyudmila.
His career revived in the 2000s, vaulting from one high to another. He won splendid reviews in 2002 for his performance at the Met as Prince Andrei in Prokofiev’s “War and Peace,” a role to which he brought uncommon vulnerability.
In 2007, Ms. Fleming boldly took on the role of Tatiana in “Eugene Onegin,” her first full production in a Russian-language opera, with Mr. Hvorostovsky in the title role. Their chemistry was almost palpable. A DVD of the performance, conducted by Valery Gergiev, became a top seller.
For years, Mr. Hvorostovsky devoted almost half of his professional time to solo recitals. He became a champion of the melancholic songs by the Russian composer Georgy Sviridov (1915-98), whose music was suppressed until the 1970s because he had refused to join the Communist Party.
He toured Russia with Ms. Netrebko and with other Russian opera singers in programs billed as “Hvorostovsky and Friends,” including a tremendously successful “Live From Red Square” concert. In his crossover ventures, he revealed an unlikely fondness for Europop.
In recent years, Mr. Hvorostovsky felt an increasing attachment to his homeland. In his interview with The New Yorker, he recalled a concert he gave at 22 with fellow singers and instrumentalists in a bread factory in central Siberia in below-freezing weather. The audience, wearing fur hats and warm boots, was overcome.
Those tears, Mr. Hvorostovsky said, “were more precious to me than all the applause I could ever get again.”
Il complesso architettonico dell’Hermitage, iniziato per ordine della zarina Elisabetta di Russia e portato avanti da Caterina la Grande, comprende diversi edifici:
– il Palazzo d’Inverno (1754-1762), progettato da Bartolomeo Rastrelli
– il Piccolo Ermitage (1764-1775), opera di Jean-Baptiste Vallin de la Mothe e di Jurij Velten
– il Grande Ermitage, detto anche Vecchio Ermitage (1771-1787), progettato da Jurij Velten
– il Nuovo Ermitage (1839-1851) realizzato da Leo von Klenze
– il Teatro dell’Ermitage (1783-1789), progettato da Giacomo Quarenghi.
Il museo espone opere di numerosissimi autori, fra i quali Caravaggio, Antonio Canova, Francesco Casanova, Paul Cézanne, Leonardo da Vinci, Jacques-Louis David, Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, Fra Filippo Lippi, Henri Matisse, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Rembrandt, Pieter Paul Rubens, Tiziano, Vincent Van Gogh, Jacob Van Ruisdael, Diego Velázquez, Paolo Pagani.
In totale, il museo assomma oltre tre milioni di opere d’arte.
Nella ricorrenza del centenario del sette novembre, l’Hermitage sarà oggetto di giochi di luce.
Il reperto risale a circa 4,000 anni or sono. Un uomo, una donna ed un bambino sono stati sepolti in un contenitore di legno ben costruito, sotto una lastra del peso di circa cinquanta tonnellate.
Sulle pareti, incisioni di una gradevole visione artistica ed accanto ai feretri vasi di ceramica.
Il reperto archeologico si trova nella Hula Valley.
Lungo tutte le alture del Golan ci sarebbero circa 5,220 tombe monumentali a dolmen, e la sola località Shamir Dolmen Field ne contiene più di quattrocento.
Sono reperti questi che forniscono elementi archeologici atti a far ripensare sia la visione religiosa sia le capacità costruttive della popolazione di quell’epoca.
Segni di una civiltà progredita molto più di quanto non si fosse pensato prima.
Non è solo questione di tecnologia necessaria per spostare pesi di quella stazza. È il fatto che la civiltà che ci ha lasciato questi dolmen era talmente ricca e progredita da potersi permettere il lusso di far ciò. Una cosa è costruire mura ciclopiche: la difesa è più che ben comprensibile e per essa si spendono anche somme ed energie ingenti. Un’altra cosa totalmente differente è il potersi permettere simili lussi per un culto funebre.
In northern Israel, archaeologists excavate largest dolmen in the Levant, with 50-ton stones to rival those of Stonehenge in size.
Around 4,000 years ago, a man, a woman and a child were laid to rest in a barrow beneath a massive 50-ton slab of basalt on a hillside in the Hula Valley. Offerings in ceramic pots were laid by their sides, and above their heads mysterious symbols were etched into the stone.
This enigmatic discovery, detailed in an academic article published in PLOS ONE on Thursday, upends our understanding of a little-understood dark age in the Levant following the collapse of Early Bronze Age cities.
Their grave of boulders stacked to form a crude table, known by archaeologists as a dolmen, was one of a vast field of tombs recently excavated by archaeologists in what is now northern Israel. The multi-chambered barrow the three skeletons were found in, however, stood out from the rest.
The excavation of the dolmens, near Kibbutz Shamir in the Hula Valley (a stone’s throw from a Roman manor described in a recent Times of Israel article), commenced after Gonen Sharon, a professor at Tel Hai College and lead author of the study, discovered the rock drawings in 2012. The field was first surveyed in the 1950s.
The study, which took several years of excavation, research and 3D scanning of the rock art, was carried out as a joint effort of Tel Hai College, the Institute of Archaeology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the Israel Antiquities Authority.
Dolmens lie scattered throughout the Golan Heights, and appear in Lebanon, Syria and Turkey. A recent survey of the Golan Heights turned up over 5,200 of the monumental rock tombs; the Shamir Dolmen Field has over 400.
“The dolmens are problematic,” Sharon told The Times of Israel in a phone interview Sunday. “It’s a problem to date them because they are very obvious on the landscape and people have been using them since they were built 4,000 years ago or a little bit more than that.
“But people have been using them since. We hear about them in the Talmud, they were used by Romans, so when you go in you have a problem to set the date,” he said. “Now we have a kind of consensus that the dolmens of the Galilee and the Golan should be dated to the Intermediate Bronze Age.”
Based on the pottery found inside the grave, and the time period associated with this style of burial, the authors said the tomb dates to a hazy period straddling the end of the Early Bronze and start of the Middle Bronze, around 2350 to 2000 BCE.
As archaeologists understood this period until now, the sophisticated city state governments of the Early Bronze Age collapsed, the towns emptied out, and large-scale agriculture ceased. Some scholars link rapid climate change — a cooler, drier time — around 4,200 years ago to the collapse of societies across the Near East, including the Levant.
“All these cities disappeared,” Sharon explained. “And then you have a few hundred years of practically nothing” until the emergence of the great cities of the Middle Bronze Age: Megiddo, Hazor, Ashkelon, Lachish.
During that intermediate period, society decentralized into small villages and wandering nomads, and scholars assumed the social conditions weren’t ripe for monumental architecture.
“What we do have is this dolmen,” Sharon said. The gigantic tombs force archaeologists to rework their understanding of that age.
“Hundreds of dolmens are scattered in the Shamir Dolmen Field, yet one dolmen stands out, even among the giants,” the authors of the study wrote. “The largest of the Shamir dolmens and, to our knowledge, one of the largest dolmens ever reported from the Levant, is Dolmen 3.”
The boulder capping the grave is over 13 feet long and nearly as wide, is just shy of four feet thick and weighs over 50 tons, making it “one of the largest stones reported to have been used in the construction of a dolmen in the Levant.” The structure itself is “one of the largest dolmens ever recorded in the Levant,” researchers wrote.
To put it into perspective, the standing stones at Stonehenge, which is slightly older than the Shamir dolmen field, are each around 13 feet high, almost 7 feet wide and weigh 25 tons — half that of the capstone. All the stones of Dolmen 3 together weigh somewhere in the vicinity of 400 tons, the researchers said.
It was also the first complex “multi-dolmen” reported in the Levant, with at least four sub-chambers, indicating some kind of social hierarchy.
On the underside of Dolmen 3’s titanic slab were 14 etchings hewn into the volcanic rock, all variations on a unique motif: a vertical line with an arc at one end, each around 10 inches long. Three-dimensional scanning of the drawings shed light on the technique used to etch them into the rock.
Each drawing differs slightly in the length and curve of the arc. The cryptic artwork has archaeologists stumped, but they suggest in the paper that they could be “schematic human forms or symbolic representations of the soul of the deceased,” perhaps indicating the path awaiting those buried therein. It’s a rare case, they said, where rock art is discovered in an archaeological context.
The patina inside the carving matches the surrounding rock face, suggesting it’s of the same age as the dolmen tomb, researchers said.
Digging below the surface of the tomb chamber, archaeologists found the fragmentary remains of an 8- to 10-year old child, a young adult and a 35- to 45-year-old adult, all buried around the time the dolmen was erected. Their bones were gathered up and interred in a secondary burial.
“Despite the heavy fragmentation, the preservation of the bone tissue was surprisingly good and it was possible to identify remains from all parts of the skeleton, from skull to leg bones, in each concentration,” the researchers said. Now they’re trying to nail down their age with radiocarbon dating, “but the poor chemical preservation of the bones is challenging the dating process.”
The presence of beads from a later period suggests that the dolmen was reused again at some point after the three were buried there.
Altogether, the Shamir dolmens’ complex burial customs, hierarchy and symbolic art defies scholars’ conception of society in the region during this period.
As author Bill Bryson pointed out with Stonehenge, “Can you imagine trying to talk six hundred people into helping you drag a fifty-ton stone eighteen miles across the countryside and muscle it into an upright position, and then saying, ‘Right, lads! Another twenty like that, plus some lintels and maybe a couple of dozen nice bluestones from Wales, and we can party!’ Whoever was the person behind Stonehenge was one dickens of a motivator, I’ll tell you that.”
The same goes with the dolmen fields in the Galilee and Golan.
“Even though we don’t have any regular archaeological evidence, like cities and towns and tels, it doesn’t mean there’s nothing here,” said Sharon. The Mongol Empire, the largest land empire in history, was forged by tent-dwellers who left little trace, he argued.
“Dolmens suggest we’re looking at a much more complex governmental system. To build this kind of dolmen you have to gather enough people, you have to feed these people, you have to accommodate these people, you have to have the architectural and construction knowledge, and you must have a boss. Somebody needs to tell them what to do.”
Alla cerimonia inaugurale per il giuramento del 20 gennaio saranno presenti a Washington le The Radio City Rockettes ed il The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, come per il giuramento di Bush.
Mr Donald Trump non smette mai di stupirci.
«For almost a century, the Rockettes have been American icons. They have appeared at Radio City Music Hall in hundreds of stage spectaculars, and have participated in many historic and memorable events—like joining the USO and traveling abroad to entertain the troops and support wartime effort, and performing at the inauguration of the 43rd president of the United States, George W. Bush, in 2001.» [The Radio City Rockettes]
«The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is dedicated to the universal language of music that has the power to bring joy, peace, and healing to its listeners. Made up of hundreds of volunteers from all walks of life, this unique music organization transcends cultural and generational boundaries and brings together people from around the world through stirring music. The Choir, the Orchestra at Temple Square, and the Bells on Temple Square act as goodwill ambassadors for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints» [The Mormon Tabernacle Choir]
Poveri liberals del partito democratico!
Intanto lo schiaffo a piena mano dato loro dal Presidente Putin:
«Ringrazio i liberals del partito democratico americano che mi hanno stimato così potente da aver fatto eleggere Mr Trump.» [Vladimir Putin]
Adesso le Rockettes ed il coro mormone, dichiaratamente religioso e solo maschile.
Un bel ceffone alle stelle di Hollywod, che prima hanno dichiarato di non voler andare ad assistere al giuramento, e poi si sono messe a piagnucolare per ottenere un invito.
La politica la si fa anche con ballerine e coristi.
Die Geschichte der Oper in Dresden geht auf die Eröffnung eines ersten Opernhauses 1667 zurück. Dresden stieg unter dem Hofkapellmeister Johann Adolph Hasse zur europäischen Opernmetropole auf.
1817 wurde das Königlich Sächsische Hoftheater eröffnet. Hier pflegte man neben dem Schauspiel das italienische und neuerdings auch das deutsche Repertoire. Carl Maria von Weber leitete das so genannte Deutsche Departement. 1843 wurde Richard Wagner Hofkapellmeister. »Rienzi«, »Der fliegende Holländer« und »Tannhäuser« wurden hier uraufgeführt. Unter Ernst von Schuch, Generalmusikdirektor von 1889 bis 1914, gab es über 40 Uraufführungen, darunter »Salome«, »Elektra« und »Der Rosenkavalier« von Richard Strauss. Bis 1938 erlebten fünf weitere seiner Opern in Dresden ihre Weltpremiere. Mit Schuchs Nachfolger Fritz Busch fand Dresden Anschluss an die Moderne, etwa mit Uraufführungen von Weill und Hindemith.
Die Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden, eines der renommiertesten Orchester der Welt, wurde 1548 gegründet. Chefdirigenten und Generalmusikdirektoren waren etwa Karl Böhm, Kurt Sanderling, Herbert Blomstedt, Giuseppe Sinopoli, Bernard Haitink und Fabio Luisi. Seit 2012 ist Christian Thielemann Chefdirigent der Staatskapelle.
Aaron S. Watkin prägt seit 2006 als Ballettdirektor das Semperoper Ballett. Mit einem vielfältigen Repertoire spannt er den Bogen von traditionellen Handlungsballetten bis zum modernen Tanz und setzt mit erstrangigen Solisten international Maßstäbe.
Nachdem der erste Theaterbau von Gottfried Semper aus dem Jahr 1841 im Jahr 1869 abgebrannt war, wurde 1878 die Oper in ihrer heutigen Form eröffnet. Nach der Zerstörung durch die Luftangriffe 1945 besaß die Sächsische Staatsoper kein eigenes Haus mehr, bis 1985 die wiederaufgebaute Semperoper eröffnet wurde.
Seit 2005 ist Wolfgang Rothe Kaufmännischer Geschäftsführer der Semperoper Dresden und seit Januar 2013 in diesem Amt auch verantwortlich für die aus Staatsoper und Staatsschauspiel Dresden fusionierten Sächsischen Staatstheater. Für die Semperoper nimmt Wolfgang Rothe überdies kommissarisch auch das Amt des Intendanten wahr.
Cave art as much as 14,500 years old has been pronounced “the most spectacular and impressive” ever discovered on the Iberian peninsula.
About 50 etchings were found in the Basque town of Lekeitio.
They include horses, bison, goats and – in a radical departure from previously discovered Palaeolithic art in the Biscay province – two lions.
Some depictions are also much bigger than those found previously – with one horse about 150cm (4ft 11in) long.
“It is a wonder, a treasure of humanity,” senior Biscay official Unai Rementeria said.
He was announcing the discovery, which was made in the Armintxe cave in May and has since been investigated by Biscay experts.
The cave was well-known to locals, said reports, but no-one had until then ventured the 50m inside where this latest 15m-long panel of etchings was found.
Together with two side panels, the depictions comprise some 30 animals along with forms comprising semi-circles and lines – including some “identical” to forms found in the French Pyrenees.
Other similar shared features – including the depictions of lions and the etching technique used – have suggested there could have been links between groups of hunter-gatherers in both areas.
The etchings are thought to date from between 12,000 and 14,500 years ago.
The cave will not be opened to the public, both due to its inaccessibility and because of the need to preserve the paintings – but authorities say they will use technology to give the public as good a view of the new finds as possible.
Experts will discuss the finds at a special congress at the end of the month.
È la storia due innamorati, separati dalla guerra.
Pochi, ma chiarissimi concetti.
– Lui, personaggio assente, ma ottimamente rappresentato dalla voce maschia di Hvorostovsky. Voce potente, carica di testosterone. Va alla guerra conscio del pericolo, ma lo fa per amore della patria e della sua donna.
Ha un ideale per vivere perché ha un ideale per cui morire.
– Lei, Katyusha, che ama con fedeltà il suo maschio, conservandone con cura le lettere, il ricordo, preservandone gelosamente l’amore.
– Già. L’amore. Questo sconosciuto.
Amore è donare la propria vita per la Patria, per la propria Moglie, per la Madre dei propri figli.
L’amore è dare, non è avere.
– Patria. Patria è il passato e la continuità nel futuro. La terra, la religione e la cultura in cui vivranno i figli: figli nati da un reciproco rapporto d’amore. Patria che non sopravvive senza un continuo fluire di nuovi figli.
* * * * * * *
Come si vede, quattro concetti oramai alieni all’Occidente.
Patria. Ma chi mai in Occidente andrebbe a morire per la Patria? Chi mai? E a cosa mai si è ridotta una patria i cui valori sono costantemente rinnegati, derisi, vilipesi?
Lei. Ma quale femmina oramai in Occidente si innamora di un maschio? Per fare poi una famiglia indissolubile, inattaccabile persino dalla morte? Una famiglia ove ella si nobiliti nella maternità che da nella discendenza la visione del futuro? Adesso le femmine si realizzano nel sesso sterile e nel lavoro, nel successo. Salvo poi impazzire quando finalmente realizzano che sono diventate volutamente sterili. Già: sterili come la sabbia del Sahara. Spesso anche assassine dei propri figli. Orripilanti i fantasmi che affliggono e tormentano le sterili! Ma oramai è troppo tardi. Che si strangugino pure nel loro passato successo: avete mai visto un assegno corrervi incontro a braccia aperte?
Ma il mondo non è l’Occidente.
E l’Occidente è incapace di comprenderlo: lo guarda stupefatto. Sta tramontando. Sta estinguendosi. Non è più in grado di comprenderlo, intriso di una cultura di morte.
The Bolshoi Theater re-opens on September 10 for a 241st season that, when it comes to additions to its operatic repertoire, promises to be its most adventurous in post-Soviet times. On its schedule are four new productions of opera, one of them a Russian premiere and two others never before staged in Moscow. The theater will also play host to four guest opera troupes from both Russia and abroad.
A Host of Guest Troupes
Prior to its traditional season-opening performances of Modest Mussorgsky’s opera “Boris Godunov” on September 19, the Bolshoi welcomes to its Historic Stage soloists, orchestra and chorus of Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, marking the renowned Italian theater’s tenth appearance at the Bolshoi since its sensational debut there in 1964. Leading off will be the first of three performances of Giuseppe Verdi’s dark and brooding opera, “Simon Boccanegra, set in 14th-century Genoa, which features Leo Nucci, one of Italy’s leading baritones for nearly half a century, in the formidable title role and esteemed Korean conductor Myung Whun-Chung in his Moscow operatic debut.
Italian maestro Riccardo Chailly, music director of Teatro alla Scala since last season, completes the theater’s guest appearance leading two performances of Verdi’s familiar Requiem and a concert program of vocal and orchestral music by Verdi, Gioacchino Rossini and Luigi Cherubini. The same program received much acclaim when performed last month at the Salzburg Festival in Austria.
Less than two weeks after the departure of Teatro alla Scala, the Bolshoi’s New Stage plays host to St. Petersburg’s enterprising theater Zazerkalye (“Through the Looking Glass”), which in the course of five days will present no less than seven operas: Giacomo Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly,” a double-bill of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Der Schauspieldirektor” and Puccini’s “Gianni Schicchi,” a pair of comic operas by Gaetano Donizetti, his seldom-heard “La gazzetta” and familiar “L’elisir d’amore;” “The Tale of the Nightingale, the Emperor and Death,” based on a story by Hans Christian Andersen and set to traditional Chinese music, and Benjamin Britten’s “Noah’s Ark,” an opera for children.
The Bolshoi’s own parade of new opera productions begins on October 16 at the Historical Stage, with what, as best I can determine, will be the first Moscow staging of Puccini’s initial operatic success, “Manon Lescaut,” a marvelously lyrical work — and my own favorite among the composer’s operas. Likely to cause something of a sensation will be the scheduled Bolshoi debut of glamorous Russian soprano Anna Netrebko in the opera’s title role.
Staging “Manon Lescaut” will be the highly-respected Ukrainian-born director Adolf Shapiro, whose Golden Mask Award-winning production of Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor” continues to delight audiences at the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko. Making his Bolshoi debut, together with Netrebko and Shapiro, will be young Italian conductor Jader Begnanini.
Up next, on November 25 at the Bolshoi’s New Stage, will be Britten’s “Billy Budd,” an opera based on a short novel by Herman Melville of the same name that tells a gripping tale of intrigue and injustice aboard a British man-of-war in combat with the French at the end of the 18th century. Premiered in London in 1951, “Billy Budd” has subsequently enjoyed much success throughout the operatic world and finally reached Russia four years ago in a production at St. Petersburg’s Mikhailovsky Theater.
The Bolshoi’s “Billy Budd” comes from London’s English National Opera, in a highly praised staging by innovative American director David Alden, who has moved the opera’s action forward in time to the first years of the 20th century.
Britten underpinned Melville’s tale with one of his most powerful and compelling scores. In charge of the music at the Bolshoi will be British conductor William Lacey, well-remembered in Moscow for his leading the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko’s Golden Mask Award-winning production of another Britten opera “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” which also originated at the English National Opera.
“Billy Budd” is played by an all-male cast and chorus, both of unusually large proportions, and will be sung in the original English, which presents the Bolshoi with a serious challenge. Although, in line with its recent practice, the theater will probably import native speakers for at least some of the opera’s principal roles, the bulk of the singing will be entrusted to local voices.
What I have previously heard in Russia of opera in English has generally been marred by extremely poor diction. In the case of “Budd Budd, where the words are of prime importance, perhaps the Bolshoi will manage to prove an exception and come up with a linguistically well-coached cast.
Celebrating a Forgotten Genius
From the end of January through February of next year, Moscow audiences are due to become acquainted for the first time with fully-staged performances of operas by the long-neglected Polish-born composer Meczyslaw Weinberg, in productions not only by the Bolshoi, but also Moscow’s Novaya Opera Theater and Yekaterinburg’s Ural Theater of Opera and Ballet.
Following the German invasion of Poland in 1939, the then 19-year-old Weinberg fled to the Soviet Union, ending up in Moscow, where he remained until his death in 1986. Weinberg’s talent as a composer was soon recognized by Dmitry Shostakovich, who did much to encourage and influence him. Performances of Weinberg’s prolific output of orchestral, chamber and solo piano music and seven operas was largely suppressed in Soviet times. But over the past two decades, he has increasingly gained recognition as one of the most important composers active in Russia during the 20th century.
Weinberg’s first opera, “The Passenger,” dating from 1968, centers on the relationship of a prisoner and a guard in a Nazi concentration camp and their chance encounter aboard a cruise ship shortly after the end of World War II. Its world premiere 10 years ago proved a resounding success as performed semi-staged by the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko. Fully-staged, the opera has gone on to receive an enthusiastic reception in Austria, Germany, Britain and the United States.
In mid-September, the Ural Theater of Opera and Ballet is scheduled to give “The Passenger” its long-overdue first full-scale Russian staging in Yekaterinburg and, on February 10, will bring the production to Moscow for a single evening at the Bolshoi’s New Stage. Just two weeks earlier, Novaya Opera plans to present its own version of “The Passenger.”
The Bolshoi pays its tribute to Weinberg with the Russian premiere of his final opera, “The Idiot,” on February 25 at the New Stage. Based on Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel of the same name and completed shortly before the composer’s death, “The Idiot” has previously been seen only at its world premiere three years ago in Mannheim, Germany. In charge of the music will be Polish conductor Michal Klauza, who last April successfully led the Bolshoi’s new production of Donizetti’s “Don Pasquale, with the staging entrusted to veteran Moscow-born Israeli director Yevgeny Aryeh.
Unlike its three predecessors, the final operatic premiere of the season is a work well-known to Moscow audiences, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s “The Snow Maiden.” The upcoming production, which opens on June 15 at the Historic Stage will be the Bolshoi’s eighth since the opera first appeared there in 1883, the most recent of which was a rather heavy-handed affair that served to open the theater’s New Stage 15 years ago.
Its libretto based on a play of the same title by Alexander Ostrovsky and re-telling of Russia’s best-known folk tales, “The Snow Maiden” contains some of Rimsky-Korsakov’s most fetching melodies, but also long stretches of tedium, both musically and dramatically. Perhaps imaginative efforts on the part of director Alexander Titel, the head of opera at the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko and a masterful interpreter there of other Rimsky-Korsakov operas, and of Bolshoi music director Tugan Sokhiev will manage to breathe life into at least some of those stretches.
The Bolshoi, of course, is not the only operatic player in town. But its four rivals, the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko, Novaya Opera, Helikon Opera and the Pokrovsky Chamber Musical Theater, from all of which interesting things can be expected, have yet to fully disclose their plans for the upcoming season.