“Les Contes de Hoffmann” by Jacques Offenbach
The Stanislavsky Music Theater
The latest opening night at the Stanislavsky Theatre was devoted to Jacques Offenbach’s only opera, Les Contes de Hoffmann (Hoffmann’s Fairy-Tales). In the programme for the performance at the Stanislavsky Music Theatre, the opera is described as being a “fantasy opera in three acts with a prologue and epilogue”. Several of Hoffmann’s stories are used in the opera’s libretto.
Twenty five years ago, this opera, which is rarely staged in Russia, enjoyed tremendous success at the Sverdlovsk (now Ekateriburg) Theatre, and was later brought to Moscow on tour. The same three key people who created the original opera helped to recreate it on the Stanislavsky Theater stage— Alexander Titel, the Director and the Artistic Director of the theatre, Valery Levental, the Set Designer, and Evegeny Brazhnik, the Production Music Director.
The new opera is amazing, which is not a surprise taking into account the high artistic and music quality of this theatre’s productions. The set design deserves a special mentioning. You have three hours to feast your eyes on a great variety of stage sets—Paris theatre Garnier, streets and cafes, Venice with its beautiful gondolas, huge Pegasus statue.
Les Contes de Hoffmann uses the technique of “theatre at the theatre”. According to the libretto, Hoffmann speaks about love and misdeeds while there is a performance going on in the nearby theatre.
When: June 20
The Stanislavsky Music Theatre
17 B. Dmitrovka str.
Tel: +7 (495) 629-28-35
I was particularly impressed by Hibla Gerzmava, the leading soloist, who sang four different music parts. This is a very welldone production with impressive singing and beautiful set design.
“Pushkin. Duel. Death”
The Moscow Young Generation Theater (MTYuZ)
I can fully relate to the point mentioned by one of the critics about this performance that: “After this play you have a strong urge to get all the books you have about Pushkin, look through them, compare and ask yourself the same question as Ginkas (the director): could this have happened any other way?”
Alexander Pushkin was a Russian author of the Romantic era who is considered to be the greatest Russian poet and the founder of modern Russian literature. Pushkin pioneered the use of vernacular speech in his poems and plays, creating a style of storytelling—mixing drama, romance, and satire—associated with Russian literature ever since, and greatly influencing later Russian writers. He died as a result of a duel with Georges d’Anthès at the age of 37.
In this play, Pushkin’s contemporaries get together around the table to talk about his genius and discuss the consequences of the duel and what a great loss Pushkin’s death was for the Russian cultural heritage. The performance is played in a small white room (Small Stage) with about 50 people in the audience. It creates a real connection between the audience and the actors. Several minutes into the performance you are totally swept away by the magnitude of the acting talent of the cast. This performance makes you feel as if these events just happened; you start to empathize with
Pushkin as if he were someone you personally knew. That is one of the key elements of this production— you feel personally touched by the tragedy being told.
When: June 6, 28
The Moscow Young Generation Theatre (MTYuZ)
10 Mamonovsky per.
Tel: +7 (495) 699-5360
It is impossible to believe that this performance, which won Kama Ginkas, the director, received the State Prize of Russia, has been in this theatre’s repertoire since 1999. It is so alive, intense and encouraging. I hope it will remain in the repertoire for many more years.
“The Rostov Action”
The Moscow State Academic Chamber Musical
Theater named after Boris Pokrovsky
On April 26th this legendary show was performed at the theatre for the 250th time. The opening night dates back to 1982. While watching this performance I felt like I was back in the Middle Ages witnessing a passion play (mystery) at the medieval theatre.
The Rostov Action is what they call a “Christmas comedy” of the 17th century. It was written by the great churchman Dmitry Rostovsky (1651-1709). He was especially talented in music and composed a series of chants. He created The Rostov Action at a time when Russia was in the midst of Peter the Great’s reforms, and when the church experienced difficulties in defending and maintaining basic spiritual principles.
This passion play tells the story of Christ’s birth, and along with the usual Biblical characters we see some allegorical ones that represent such notions as Kindness, Evil, Love, Hatred, Peace, and War. This performance is full of church chants as well as folk songs that were sung for centuries in Russia, Ukraine and Poland.
Besides the ordinary stage, the actors use some sort of a podium and the audience sits on both sides of it; therefore, the entire stage resembles
a T-structure, placing the audience almost in with the actors. No matter how long ago the play was written, it is still very relevant, raising eternal human problems, like the unending battle between good and bad.
When: check the repertoire
The Moscow State Academic Chamber
Musical Theatre named after Boris Pokrovsky
17 Nikolskaya str.
This was one of the most original performances I have ever seen. The genre is highly unusual for the Russian theatre. So if you would like to listen to some extraordinary music and picture yourself as the audience of a medieval theatre, then you should check this one out.