Opera and Ballet Theatre launches ‘Portraits’ concerts, composed and conducted by famous Viacheslav Volich. The Belarusian conductor tours a great deal, often welcomed by Moscow’s New Opera Theatre.
Having invited Belarus’ leading operatic soloist, Nina Sharubina, to perform in the opening ‘Portraits concert’, the maestro made the aria ‘Casta Diva’ (Chosen by the Gods) the theme of the evening (from Bellini’s opera Norma — once sung by the legendary Maria Callas).
Volich tells us that he plans a series of benefit nights dedicated to all musicians — young and old, successful and aspirational.
Is it so important to establish personal contact with singers?
Of course! I need to know whether they will follow me or insist on their own ideas. I must understand how they breathe and form phrases and which orchestra timbres are needed to reveal their voice. The conductor is solely responsible for unveiling the compo-ser’s drama.
Which kind of music is most pleasant for you to conduct?
It may seem strange but I love Italian music. I clearly remember my childhood impressions. When I first heard Verdi, I felt as if I’d known the melodies all my life. I once conducted baritone Antonio Salvadori in Germany and, after the concert, he hugged me, saying, “Be grateful to your parents — you have an Italian heart.” I most enjoy conducting Verdi’s and Puccini’s operas. In late March, I was fortunate in being able to conduct ‘Romeo and Juliet’ by Prokofiev (dedicated to the anniversary of my teacher, Gennady Provatorov). I would love to conduct Shostakovich but feel it’s too early. One much respected colleague has told me, “A conductor only really comes into his own after he is fifty.” I agree with him and am surprised at having dared to conduct ‘Turandot’ ten years ago. At that time, anything seemed permissible but, now, I realise that I plunge new depths as the years go by. I’m showing a more respon-sible attitude to musical material. I still don’t dare conduct Tchaikovsky’s ‘Sixth Symphony’ — Lord forbid that anyone experience the tragedy of this music. Valery Gergiev fittingly chose it to perform in Beslan.
Conductors have the same mission as doctors and religious prophets; their skill should bring light into others’ souls. If they have mud in their own, they can only fail…