By Piotr Vladislavlev
Imre Kalman’s Silva (Die Csardasfurstin) is undoubtedly a landmark piece of operetta, performed on world stages for over 90 years. It has survived various interpretations and has been dissected in any number of ways. Now, the Belarusian State Academic Musical Theatre is hosting a premiere, staged by its chief director Suzanna Tsiryuk.
It’s true to say that we each see what we desire in the operetta, while each performer gives us their own interpretation of their role. The performance can appear bright and festive, like a fantasy, or treacle sweet in turn. Stage manager and theatre chief director Suzanna Tsiryuk has followed the author’s original stage directions, so is confident that her performance differs from previous versions.
She explains, “We’re trying to avoid ‘sugary pseudo-pathos’ — a peculiar feature of Soviet operetta; we want to make the story as believable as possible. It’s a challenge but, at least, that is our intention. My directing principle is simple: there shouldn’t be any seam in the performance. The audience shouldn’t see where my direction ends and where the choreography begins. The dance continues on from the dialogue and relations of characters. I think it’s stylish, laconic and constructive. I’ve set the action in the present, with ‘Galliano’ style costumes, which are extremely beautiful.”
The performance is the first for the theatre’s new chief conductor, Oleg Lesun. He notes, “Of course, the orchestra and some soloists remember something from previous performances, so it’s difficult to put that aside. However, I think, we’ve managed to do well and solved all contradictions.”
The new Silva premiere boasts three teams of soloists, with People’s Artiste of Belarus Natalia Gaida playing the role of Duchess Alexandra. She smiles, “If it were not for our stage company working so calmly, we’d have hardly managed to prepare everything within such a short period of time. I’ve played in all four performances of Silva at our theatre. Of course, this covers four quite different times and four completely different performances. I’m sometimes asked whether we need to reinvent old works, making them more modern, and how we should interpret this operetta. Regardless of what we do, audiences enjoy performances which explore human nature and relations. If you perform from the heart, your efforts are, undoubtedly, interesting to contemporary spectators.”
March premieres of Silva saw full houses at the Musical Theatre.