Silva sang and danced

Festival of operetta Natalia Gaida Invites among most popular in Belarus
Only held since 2012, the event is already at the heart of theatrical-musical life in our country, hosted by the State Academic Musical Theatre of Minsk and gathering leading performers from Belarus and abroad. Last autumn, masters from eleven Russia musical groups responded to Ms. Gaida’s invitation! St. Petersburg’s Theatre of Musical Comedy sent several soloists, headed by conductor Andrey Alexeev — an Honoured Artiste of the Russian Federation. Even today, the maestro recollects past performances in Minsk with pleasure.

Mr. Alexeev tells us, “This is the third time that we’ve performed at Natalia Gaida’s festival, which sees full houses every day, as Minsk residents love operetta. Our St. Petersburg artistes Andrey Danilov, Maria Yelizarova, Alexander Lenogov, and Fiodor Osipov performed Women’s Revolt, and Silva at the final gala concert. It was a real holiday both for performers and the audience, with pieces sung from Lehár’s Merry Widow, Kálmán’s Die Bajadere, Hervé’s Mam’zelle Nitouche and West Side Story, by Bernstein. Audiences received them with enthusiasm. I must admit that it’s a long time since I’ve witnessed such love and devotion for this genre as in Belarus. This is to the merit of Natalia Gaida, who is an amazing person of rare talent and diligence.

She was born and grew up in Sverdlovsk (now Yekaterinburg) where she began her professional career.

Yes. She was invited to Minsk’s theatre ‘to revive operetta’ and I think she’s done so more than successfully. She has seen 200 percent success! Last year, Natalia celebrated a major birthday but continues to perform and remains on excellent form. She sets the tone. Visiting the festival, I was able to observe her work; she’s usually one of the first at the theatre and is always smiling, full of enthusiasm. Music and the stage is a huge delight for her.

The idea of organising the festival appeared some years ago, because of Natalia’s desire to help those new to the genre, to promote understanding of operetta and give singers the chance to show their talent. Susanna Tsiryuk, who is well known in Russia, having performed in Rostov-on-Don, Novosibirsk, and Chelyabinsk, supported her. She has directed international festivals in Switzerland and Germany. Interesting, Susanna comes from our northern capital but has been creatively connected with Belarus since the early 1990s, having worked for ten years at the Minsk Opera and Ballet Theatre. In 2010, after a break, she returned to the capital to become the main director of the Belarusian Musical Theatre, becoming known as ‘our motor’ for her endless energy, enthusiasm, and innovation.

I ask Andrey Alexeev what attracts musicians to the festival? Perhaps, good fees — as are common at international performances?

We don’t pay any fees. Rather, people come for the good rehearsal and performance atmosphere. It’s like a rest. That’s all. Since Natalia Gaida began the festival (I’ve participated from the first year), I’ve never heard of a refusal. Groups accept from the first invitation. After all, not everything can be measured by money. There is such a wonderful atmosphere — as is hardly seen at European theatres. You meet interesting new acquaintances and have wonderful experiences: something creative people cannot do without. Our domestic musical theatres haven’t toured much in recent years, as it’s troublesome and costly to take the actors, chorus, ballet and orchestra around the world. Therefore, such invitations, which are given once a year by Natalia Gaida and Susanna Tsiryuk, are not only interesting but very useful.

Do the organisers dictate what to play and who should perform?

We co-ordinate each programme. This time, I conducted ‘A Feminine Revolt’, performed by a small group of artistes from our theatre. I can’t stress enough how such events inspire and revive a group of actors. When a performance is put on regularly it can become stale (‘Women’s Revolt’ is such). You need to ‘shake it up’. Being under scrutiny, artistes also try to do their best, so as not to let down colleagues.

Is it hard to work with an unfamiliar orchestra? Besides knowing the score, you need harmony.

Professionalism helps and the goodwill of the festival creates a corresponding atmosphere.

By Lyudmila Bezrukova
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