Opera in the Spirit of St. Petersburg

For the first time in Kazakhstan, a tour of the St. Petersburg Chamber Opera State Chamber Music Theatre will take place at the Astana Opera. On November 9, the company under the leadership of the People’s Artist of Russia, laureate of the State Prize of the Republic of Kazakhstan Yuri Alexandrov will present Verdi’s opera Rigoletto, and on November 10 Bizet’s opera Les Pêcheurs de Perles will be performed.

Stage director Yuri Alexandrov will offer the residents and guests of the capital productions with a bold and unconventional interpretation of opera stories, colourful, luxurious costumes, excellent acting and musical performances.

“I have a special relationship with Kazakhstan, as I have invested a lot of energy and effort in the development of national opera art. I was directly involved in the opening of Kazakhstani opera houses and staged about 13 productions at various venues, including at the country’s main opera stage – Astana Opera. Your audience is very important to me, and I would not want to disappoint them. I hope my own team will show its merit,” Yuri Alexandrov shared.

In the production of Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Rigoletto, the famous Russian director made the main emphasis on the motif of the mask, the sinister masquerade of life. Verdi himself considered the plot of this opera to be the best of all that he set to music. For the first time in the history of the genre, the hero of one of the most popular operas of the great composer was an old hunchback – a court jester, a hypocrite with a grudge against the entire world. He ruthlessly exacts revenge against everyone who does not have a hump on their back. The stage director will offer the capital’s audience a new version of the psychological drama, according to which the court jester is not a hunchback at all, but a sarcastic, intelligent, angry and by all means not old man. The hump and mask are simply a buffoon’s disguise that he wears only at the Duke’s court. However, moral ugliness cannot be thrown off like a mask. An extraordinary man, forced to endure constant humiliation, he is entertained by intrigue, willingly taking part in the dirty amusements of his master and his entourage. Fate punishes Rigoletto for cruelty, turning into a murderer his own daughter Gilda.

“Despite the fact that St. Petersburg Opera is named a chamber music theatre and its native stage is very small, we do not limit ourselves to works of small form. This is one of the reasons why we can be considered a unique team. Rigoletto is a truly large-scale production in every sense. In St. Petersburg, it runs at the Hermitage Theatre, and we definitely choose Rigoletto for touring when we have an opportunity to present it at a large venue. Therefore, Nur-Sultan’s stage, like no other, is suitable for this production,” the director noted.

Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave is based on Victor Hugo’s drama Le Roi s’Amuse. Music Director – Maxim Valkov, Conductor – Alexander Goykhman, Set Designer – Lyudmila Goncharova, Costume Designer – Vera Marinina, Lighting Designer – Dzhalil Martazin, Props – Victor Grigoryev, Choirmaster – Igor Pototsky, Accompanist – Nina Zhukovskaya.

Georges Bizet’s brilliant opera Les Pêcheurs de Perles to a libretto by Eugène Cormon and Michel Carré captivates with melodic richness and dramatic expressiveness. This is St. Petersburg Chamber Opera’s first production of Bizet’s body of work. The opera takes place on the exotic island of Ceylon. In the center of the plot there is a love triangle: fisherman Zurga and head fisherman Nadir love the same girl Leïla, a priestess of Brahma. The Pearl Fishers is the young composer’s first opera commissioned by the Parisian Théâtre Lyrique, the main theatre in the French capital in the mid-19th century. Bizet composed the opera swiftly; it was written in just a few months. According to Hector Berlioz, the score ‘The score for Les Pêcheurs de Perles does Monsieur Bizet credit … arias and duets full of fire and great richness of colour.’ 

The Pearl Fishers is a beautiful fairy tale for grown-ups, in which there is a place for love, heroic deeds and self-sacrifice. I think that people of the twenty-first century need such stories in both Russia and Kazakhstan. Our production turned out to be very colourful and emotional, and even despite the tragic ending (our version differs from the original libretto), in many countries, where we brought it, the audience enthusiastically responded to the performance and left the auditorium in a very positive mood,” Yuri Alexandrov concluded.  

Music Director and Conductor – Maxim Valkov, Set and Costume Designer – Vyacheslav Okunev, Lighting Designer – Irina Vtornikova, Video Art – Daniil Bakalin, Mikhail Ushinin, Choirmaster – Igor Pototsky, Choreographer – Nadezhda Kalinina, Musical Preparation – Yana Zubova.

The performances will begin: on November 9 – at 18:00, on November 10 – at 18:00.

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