By Valentina Timofeeva
The Theatre hopes to make its jubilee year rich and exciting, with 12 premiers planned. The season has opened with a two-act opera entitled The Grey Legend, using music by Dmitry Smolsky and Vladimir Korotkevich’s libretto almost unchanged. Clearly, the Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theatre is sending a message that Belarusian composers and national traditions must be preserved.
Chief director Mikhail Pandzhavidze chose The Grey Legend, explaining, “In the 1990s, we faced stagnation, failing to stage plays by contemporary composers; we were deprived of a huge experience. I’m happy now, as I have this opportunity. We always enjoy our rehearsals and are experiencing an atmosphere we lacked for a long time. Our audiences will soon be convinced.”
Chief conductor Victor Ploskina admits, “A special spirit was present at our first rehearsal, as the performance is essentially Belarusian. It’s a large and worthy work. Never before has Belarus given such a performance.”
Theatre’s Director General Vladimir Gridyushko notes, “We want our performance to change popular opinion about Belarusian musical art, making it more positive. I’m convinced that The Grey Legend will enjoy popularity and love. We are truly now gaining momentum, enhancing our performances. You can judge yourself: last theatrical season, we sold 263,000 tickets, with over 90 percent of seats occupied at each performance.”
“Belarusian operas have always been worthy,” notes chief choir master Nina Lomanovich. “However, it’s hard to describe what’s happening now: three hours of rehearsal pass as if they are a few minutes. This is a wonderful national play. While working on it, we’ve been continually surprised. The performance features all the best artistes and is already felt to be our ‘strongest’; the choir deserves special attention, as it sings under the most complicated stage conditions.”
Meanwhile, the Theatre is preparing other premieres, as Mr. Gridyushko explains, “We’re focusing on the renewal and enrichment of our repertoire. In November, audiences will be welcomed to two premieres: Duke Igor (in early November) and Koschei the Immortal. Youngsters will enjoy Winnie the Pooh, staged by Olga Buravleva, in December. In addition, we’re mastering new choreographic styles, entering a new age in the history of Belarus’ choreographic art.”
Italian opera is still being scheduled, with Turandot planned for spring, alongside The Nutcracker. The Flying Dutchman — by Richard Wagner (whose jubilee is being celebrated) — is being staged for the first time at the Belarusian Theatre, which remains faithful to its traditions. It organises and participates in many major international projects, with 19 co-operative memorandums already signed and exchange tours common: in February, the Estonian National Opera is to stage its best pieces in Minsk.
May 2013 will see the release of The Large Encyclopaedia of the Bolshoi Theatre, in addition to a commemorative coin and a postal stamp: all issued to mark the Theatre’s anniversary. Many guests will arrive to congratulate the troupe, including famous artistes, musicians and heads of the largest opera theatres in the CIS and Europe.