In the Carnival Style: the Premiere of the Opera La Scala di Seta Was a Full House Event at the Astana Opera
A unique creative project – the Piccolo Chamber Theatre – was duly appreciated by the residents and guests of the capital last weekend. Gioachino Rossini’s one-act operatic farsa comica La Scala di Seta was presented to the audience for the first time. The comedic production marked the beginning of many classical opera performances that will be taking place at the Astana Opera Chamber Hall.
This is a very important event for the young opera house, which has been writing its history for six years. Now the Chamber Hall repertoire has become even more diverse. Piccolo Chamber Theatre is a creative laboratory where students, recent graduates, young vocalists can hone their craft together with accomplished opera singers.
There is a full house in the auditorium. Interesting action began to unfold under the house lights in an intimate chamber atmosphere. According to the plot, Giulia (Zhannat Baktay, Saltanat Akhmetova), the ward of Dormont (Ramzat Balakishiyev, Ruslan Sovet), is already secretly married to Dorvil (Zhan Tapin, Damir Saduakhassov), who climbs up into his wife’s bedroom every night on a silken ladder. Dormont wants to marry his ward off to Blansac (Yevgeniy Chainikov). Giulia’s cousin Lucilla (Saltanat Muratbekova, Malika Minisini), in turn, is in love with Blansac. Upon hearing that Giulia was expecting her husband at night, the guileless servant Germano (Sundet Baigozhin), believing that it was Blansac, hurries to inform him that the silken ladder will be lowered down for him…
Time and again, the heroes found themselves in comedic situations, to which the audience reacted very vividly, responding with laughter and rounds of applause. Talented young vocalists and the sought-after masters of the opera art not only conveyed the subtle vocal nuances of their parts, but, since this is a farce, simultaneously expressed various emotions using facial expressions, expressive gestures, and playful looks. The listeners were very excited, as the artists were in constant movement, running, hiding and appearing at the most unexpected moments. Italian Stage Director Ala Simonishvili’s flawless work was rather noteworthy: she has built the geography of the performance in such a way that every corner of the stage was filled with life, as if the action took place on a Venetian square.
Zhannat Baktay and Saltanat Akhmetova interpreted the main character each in her own way, through the prism of their own personalities and life experience. Both artists showed excellent mastery of the Rossini style and exceptional acting skills on different premiere days. They used their fans deftly and moved around the stage gracefully. Zhan Tapin and Damir Saduakhassov successfully portrayed Giulia’s love interest in this production. The tenors’ vocals were at a high level, just as it was for the baritones Sundet Baigozhin and Yevgeniy Chainikov. The audience could enjoy the masterful performance of these artists on both premiere days. In addition to brilliant vocals, Sundet Baigozhin showed tremendous acting talent, his portrayal had special magnetism. Evgeniy Chainikov created an interpretation of both comedic and charming hero-lover. It is clear that the part of Dormont was easy for Ramzat Balakishiyev and Ruslan Sovet, both artists were settled into their characters well. Wonderful mezzo-soprano singers Saltanat Muratbekova and Malika Minisini performed the part of Lucilla, demonstrating excellent bel canto technique.
Magnificent scenery was created by the Set and Costume Designer from Italy Manana Gunia. She made the costumes and sets in the style of the Venetian carnival, more precisely in vein of Commedia dell’Arte, with its famous characters Il Capitano, Il Dottore, Arlecchino and others. The artists looked extraordinary in these costumes. Such incredible exoticism with a bright palette of colours was perceived by the audience in the still rather cold capital with wonder and delight. The sets, costumes and video projections created the atmosphere of warm Italy in the mid-18th century.
The music in this opera was strictly dependent on the text. The orchestra musicians’ performance under the baton of Music Director and Conductor Abzal Mukhitdinov was brilliantly virtuosic and, as the orchestra was not in the orchestra pit, but in the auditorium, in close proximity to the listeners, the audience could feel like participants in the performance.
The premiere that took place within the Year of Youth with the support of the Ministry of Culture and Sports of the Republic of Kazakhstan was a great success. The listeners gave the artists long deafening applause. Thus, the creative project Piccolo Chamber Theatre received positive feedback from high art connoisseurs, as well as leading media, which means that it will have a long and happy scenic life.
The Astana Opera Press Office
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