Price for Immortal Creative Work
The world premiere of the ballet Beethoven – Immortal – Love about the fate of the composer Ludwig van Beethoven was held with great success at the Astana Opera Grand Hall on February 14 and 15 under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture and Sports of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The capital’s opera house presented a new ballet genre to the general audience. The production was staged by the German choreographer Raimondo Rebeck to the music of Beethoven, Bach, Haydn, Mozart and Dirk Haubrich. Beethoven – Immortal – Love is a large-scale artistic statement on the dramatic life path of the outstanding personality.
The ballet begins with a funeral procession. People, dressed in black, say goodbye to the genius, seeing the great composer off on his last journey. The news of his death strongly affected them and they deeply mourn Beethoven’s passing. This scene shows how strong his influence in the music world was. The black piano, symbolizing the coffin, creates a somber image of existence, thus affirming that everything in this world is perishable. However, a little later, an episode of Cosmos will show us that the composer did not die, but only became part of the Universe, one of the stars in the high black sky.
The composition of the ballet itself can be considered narrative, the plot tells us about the agony and secrets of the work of a genius. Onstage, Beethoven’s world gains such strength and power that the viewers believe – that is exactly how it was. Here is the future composer sitting at the piano with his father, studying new material: again and again Ludwig has to repeat the composition. The muse of music Euterpe (Assel Shaikenova, Gaukhar Ussina) helps to cope with hard work, supporting him. All dancers portray their characters with a great deal of emotion, their movements are choreographically precise. Despite the fact that there is a number of abstract characters in this ballet (Illness, Inspiration, Love), it is still easy for the audience to understand the character lines of these heroes.
Mature, gifted Beethoven attracted the attention of enlightened Bonn families, and the brilliant piano improvisations provided him with free access to high music communities. In the ballet, an example of the high society’s attention to Beethoven’s person is the Vienna Ball scene. In addition to a completely new modern choreography, the set design is also amazing. The set by the Japanese designer and the author of the lighting design concept Yoko Seyama resembled a crystal palace. This decision was not made by chance. Transparent crystal is a symbol of another time dimension: more precisely, it indicates that the ballet is not set in any particular time and place. This is probably why in this scene the choreographer introduces the main character of Love (her outfit is bright red, symbolizing this strong feeling). The composer’s first meeting with his lover takes place at a time when the entire society freezes, not only motionless, but seemingly lifeless. This is Love casting its spell over Beethoven, entering into his very heart.
The transition of musical material from Mozart’s Serenade to the modern music by German composer Dirk Haubrich changes the general spirit. Something new for the audience to admire: the portraits of Beethoven’s teachers – Mozart and Haydn – come to life. Exiting their picture frames, they dance the trio with Beethoven, later, in the Pas de Quatre, Euterpe joins them.
Bakhtiyar Adamzhan (Beethoven) was impressive and interesting, especially with regard to the writing scene. From the creative standpoint, his plastique and artistic judgment show a mature personality in terms of acting. The opera house’s prima ballerina Aigerim Beketayeva (Love) dances with him. She made her heroine dramatically truthful and piercingly sensual. On the second day, Daler Zaparov and Mariko Kitamura shone in these roles.
The dynamism of mass scenes was worthy of admiration. Raimondo Rebeck’s choreography is flowing; he knows how to use space correctly. The exciting solos and duets of the two main characters reflect the intensity of feelings. Nevertheless, Beethoven still does not choose Love, preferring Euterpe – inspiration.
Beethoven himself liked to say that music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy. “Those who understand my music must become free from all the miseries that the others drag with them,” he said.
The musical numbers in this ballet flesh out a rich selection of characters, emotions, and psychological atmosphere. The Astana Opera Symphony Orchestra under the baton of the Music Director of the production Abzal Mukhitdin confidently handled the challenge before them and conveyed bright colours of the music, which is so familiar and at the same time new every time. Piano solo was brilliantly performed by Dolores Umbetaliyeva.
According to the plot, Beethoven suffered and struggled with his deafness in the later years of his life. The role of Illness (Olzhas Makhanbetaliyev, Serik Nakyspekov) turned out to be very interesting and deep in its psychological and choreographic content. The composer was overtaken by deafness, which became a payment for talent. The choreographer affirms the idea that there are ailments in each of us. Whether you are a person from the nobility or from a poor social class, you cannot run away from your illness.
The final scene of Heaven is carried out purely in white, telling us about the influence of time that is beyond any form of control. The musical basis of the material was Beethoven’s famous Symphony No. 9. The message of this work is clear and modern. Today, when there are many conflicts in the world, this work about bringing people together is especially relevant.
Astana Opera’s entire creative team was involved in this large-scale scene. For the first time in the history of ballet, the choir singers became full-fledged participants in a ballet performance. The figures they created onstage amazed with their clear lines. Ballet dancers, choir, supernumeraries, opera soloists and orchestra musicians created a truly spectacular performance.
Beethoven is standing alone. He is not subject to time and space – the world premiere of the ballet Beethoven – Immortal – Love ends on this emotional note. The performers elicited unceasing rounds of applause and shouts of ‘Bravo’; a sea of flowers adorned the stage, as a gesture of gratitude to the artists for their high skill.
On various premiere days, ballet soloists (Symphony No. 9) Olzhas Tarlanov, Serik Nakyspekov, Moldir Shakimova, Mariko Kitamura, Zhanibek Akhmediyev, Daler Zaparov, Nurai Nursafina, Aziza Aimakova performed their parts at a high level.
Opera soloists: Soprano – Honoured Workers of Kazakhstan Aigul Niyazova, Bibigul Zhanuzak. Mezzo-Soprano – Honoured Worker of Kazakhstan Dina Khamzina, Tatyana Vitsinskaya. Tenor – Honoured Worker of Kazakhstan Zhan Tapin, Ramzat Balakishiyev. Bass – Honoured Worker of Kazakhstan Talgat Mussabayev, Talgat Galeyev.
Father – Sungat Kydyrbayev, Kuat Karibayev. Count – Zhanibek Akhmediyev, Olzhas Tarlanov, Mozart – Aibar Toktar, Galymzhan Nurmukhamet, Haydn – Serik Nakyspekov, Daniyar Zhumatayev. Mother – Zhamal Altybassarova, Assel Kenzhebekova. Countess – Anastasia Zaklinskaya, Seika Tonosaki.
On the second premiere day, Maestro Ruslan Baimurzin conducted the performance. The Set Designer and Author of the Lighting Design concept – Yoko Seyama, Costume Designer – Rosa Ana Chanza, Assistant Costume Designer – Arassel Dosmuratova, Projection Designer – Sergio Metalli, Chief Choirmaster – Honoured Worker of Kazakhstan Yerzhan Dautov. The Artistic Director of the Ballet Company – People’s Artist of Russia Altynai Asylmuratova.