Barber of Seville’s eternal masks

79th season of National Academic Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theatre promises great premieres and ambitious projects

By Alexey Ivanenko

The Opera and Ballet Theatre plans to give Minsk audiences seven new performances by August 2012. According to Vladimir Gridyushko, the Director General, in early September, the first premiere was Gioachino Rossini’s comic opera The Barber of Seville, staged by Italian conductor Gianluca Marciano and chief director Mikhail Pandzhavidze. The performance is presented in the genre of a square theatre, following the carnival traditions of Italian commedia dell’arte — from the second half of the 16th century. The actors wear the traditional character-masks of Colombina, Clarice, the Doctor and Harlequin.
“Traditional theatre has always endeavoured to reflect daily life while commedia dell’arte has never done this, being more like a grotesque exaggeration of human nature,” Mr. Pandzhavidze explains. “We use the principles of square theatre: a little rough and ordinary, but clownish and absolutely truthful. Our ‘fools’ always speak in a straightforward and frank manner.”

In November, the Opera and Ballet Theatre will present ballets from Sergey Dyagilev’s Russian Seasons: Scheherazade and Tamar. These will be staged by prominent dancer and choreographer, People’s Artist of Russia Andris Liepa. December gives us another premiere: Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor — a masterpiece of Italian Bel canto opera.

The first half of 2012 will also be intense, offering us premieres of Giselle and Anyuta, staged by two People’s Artists of the USSR: choreographers Nikita Dolgushin and Vladimir Vasiliev. The premiere of Giacomo Puccini’s grand opera Turandot sees a new stage version by Mikhail Pandzhavidze, predicted to be a highlight of the 79th season. Its Nessun Dorma (None shall sleep) aria remains one of the most popular of all time.

In mid-December, Minsk’s International Christmas Opera Forum will bring together prominent singers and conductors from the CIS and beyond for the second time. Old New Year night will see the Opera and Ballet Theatre once again host its wonderful New Year Ball and, in summer 2012, Nesvizh will host its Nights of the Bolshoi Theatre at Radziwills’ Castle.
Opera tours are also scheduled for Lithuania, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Egypt, in addition to major tours of Belarus, across regional and district centres.

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