By Leonid Ivanshin
The Belarusian Musical Theatre’s open air symphony concert was a great success, notes the Musical Theatre’s Director, Alexander Petrovich. He explains, “In Europe, open air performances are wide-spread in summer. Why shouldn’t we use our wonderful site in the village of Strochitsy, near Minsk — at the Belarusian Museum of Architecture and Daily Life.”
Following the best foreign traditions, classical pieces were performed during the two hour concert, entitled Fairy Open Air Night of Classical Music. Thirty pieces by Verdi, Strauss, Kalman, Tchaikovsky and other composers were enjoyed by an audience of a thousand music lovers. Soloists from musical and opera theatres across Belarus were joined by the Bolshoi and Mariinsky theatres of Russia. Five conductors interchanged: four Belarusians and American Philip Simmons — who is soon to stage a performance at the Belarusian Musical Theatre.
Mariinsky Theatre soloist Larisa Yudina could hardly hide her emotions on returning to Belarus, with which she shares close ties: her husband, also an operatic soloist, began his career here. In Strochitsy, Ms. Yudina performed several pieces, including Alyabiev’s Nightingale. “Belarus has welcomed me with open arms,” she said. “My husband’s relatives used to ask me why I often performed abroad rather than singing for Belarusian audiences. Eventually, I gained the wonderful chance to sing for Belarusians, which I do with great pleasure.” She is a regular performer at St. Petersburg’s city festivals, so the Belarusian open air format was nothing new to her. She admits that she finds it easier to sing in the open air since the microphone is a useful aid.
The Belarusian Museum of Architecture and Daily Life is a reconstructed Belarusian village, with wooden houses, mills, churches and other buildings. It has already hosted several cultural forums, including pop and folk festivals, but this was the first classical concert. “We tried to choose the best pieces from world operatic classical music — well known and loved by everyone,” stressed the project’s artistic director, Adam Murzich. “Next time, we’ll also include Belarusian music.”
Open air classical music concerts are gaining popularity countrywide. The first of the kind was organised within the courtyard of Polotsk’s Sophia Cathedral. Concerts at Mir Castle followed, with Mr. Petrovich personally helping in their organisation. “Open air concerts are quite expensive,” he notes. “A stage is needed, in addition to seating for the audience and artistes. Moreover, transportation and security services must be provided. We would hardly have succeeded without support from the Culture Ministry, Minsk authorities, heads of the Minsk Region and sponsors.” Speaking of why Strochitsy was chosen to host the event, he tells us, “The museum has its fans. Moreover, the site is popular among tourists coming to Belarus. The country is now promoting tourism development, with culture as a focus.”
Mr. Petrovich is convinced that the project will be repeated. Next year, Strochitsy stage should host two or three concerts of classical music.