Chief conductor of the Bolshoi theatre told about the Opera Billy Budd, whose premiere will be held in November
Chief conductor and music Director of the Bolshoi Tugan, Achieveto: TASS, Vyacheslav Prokofiev
– On the New stage of the State academic Bolshoi theater (SABT) at the end of November will take place the premiere of the Opera Billy Budd by Benjamin Britten – a large-scale joint project of the theatre with the English national Opera. On the eve of the premiere of chief conductor and music Director of the Bolshoi Tugan Sokhiev in interview to the correspondent of “Interfax” Anne of Nechaeva told about the production, about how projects are selected for the repertoire, the criterion for their commercial success and the absence of censorship at the Bolshoi theatre.
– Tugan Taymurazovich, please tell us about the next premiere of the Bolshoi theater, the Opera “Billy Budd” by Benjamin Britten.
Is co-production, co-production with the English national Opera. This production we continue the tradition of cooperation with big European Opera houses. For example, put “Rodelinda” by Georg Friedrich Handel.
Englishmen are proud of Britten because, despite the fact that they had many composers, but world-famous – units. “Billy Budd” first appears, not only in our repertoire, but in General in Moscow. This Great theatre is made only once in his work, and it was in the 60s – the Opera “a Midsummer night’s Dream”. The emergence of a serious Opera by this composer very important to us. We will try to convey why we think that Britten should sound in the Bolshoi theater in Russia, even in all the major Opera houses.
I must say that the whole production team came from Britain. The Director David Alden, conductor – William Lacey. We are very proud that famous bass Robert Lloyd came specially to take part in the production. Overall, 70-80 percent of the original composition of the play, from the London production.
– Why the choice fell on “Billy Budd”?
– Here powerful music, serious plot, real deep psychological theatre by Benjamin Britten. It’s not such an Opera as “La Traviata”, here the viewer will find different experiences. And, moreover, the peculiarity of this Opera in that it employs only male voices .
Is a large international project. On the season, you said that this is a difficult statement. What is the complexity what are the pitfalls?
– By itself, the score is complex, it consists of a large variety of items that are not easily given to artists. Not only in Russia. Britten generally differs in that its language is similar to the language of music by Bizet, Verdi and Tchaikovsky. You have time to enter into it. So the artists, the orchestra rehearsing for quite some time. To exist in that coordinate system, which came up with Britten, it takes a long time to get used to.
In addition, the English language is not very suited for singing. A lot of the sounds that the vocal is not very convenient for singers. The feeling of tonality is completely different than what he’s grown accustomed to singers. This is an unusual and unfamiliar musical language. William Lacey, as an Englishman, greatly helps our soloists in the understanding of the language.
Formulation is complicated by the fact that there are many challenges, as always from Alden. This is a big psychological burden to the actors – every second on stage, something happens.
– Please tell us about the Opera “the snow maiden” in which you act as a conductor of. The premiere is scheduled for June 15, 2017, can you reveal any details of future performances?
– Work is underway since last summer, handed over a mock play, have an understanding of what we want this production to be done. Often the spectator, when he speaks of “the maiden”, there is a feeling of a fairy, and I understand why. But here’s a completely different story – Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov wrote, based on a spring tale by Alexander Ostrovsky. If you know it, you realize that this is not a fairy tale, in this story, nothing baby at all. This is a serious, grown-up, philosophical, pagan, deep emotionally that sets the big questions, the history.
Some work on the production that is currently ongoing?
– As I said, this story touches on many teen issues. Serious and something even the drama Ostrovsky we will try to connect with the colorful music of Rimsky-Korsakov, who had the gift to decorate. He well wrote the music and had the orchestra from the point of view of the instrumentation. And we will try to show the flavor of Rimsky-Korsakov, “unsuppress” them the story of Ostrovsky.
We are still in the color search votes – is important and necessary to find how to compose voice. Sometimes it seems as if the unfolding of solitaire. Watch how the combined one or the other baritone, with a particular tenor, bass. It is important to choose a vocal palette of the votes.
– Generally speaking, what criteria projects are selected for the repertoire of the Bolshoi theatre?
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– In this theatre, how Large, must be constructed so that in the poster were the names that the audience always walks with a hobby, interest, because he knows these productions. Among them – “Carmen”, “Eugene Onegin”, “Traviata”, “Tosca”, “La Boheme”. Some generally accepted standard Opera set, which is in all Opera theatres of the world, which is known to all.
But there should be absolutely parallel to the policy of promotion of that music, which the audience does not know. In England, for example, know well the music of Czech composer leoš janáček, and we need to think how to acquaint our audience with his works.
We have just released the play “the damnation of Faust” by Hector Berlioz is not an Opera, even, and dramatic legend. We know that Berlioz has several operas, among which, for example, “Trojans”, which lasts five hours. Just start with “Trojans”, when the viewer is not prepared, including psychologically – I’m talking about the music – it is not quite right. Therefore, we first put a known and understood history of Dr. Faustus. The viewer knows the story, he can only get acquainted with the music and the composer.
Or, for example, now we present “Billy Budd”, I don’t exclude that later there will be other works by Britten.
We have anything that is interesting to today’s audience – music lovers, and those who are generally first comes to the Opera house. We have Mozart, Handel, contemporary music, this year – unfairly forgotten Weinberg.
In the main theatre of the country, the repertoire needs to be so extensive that any viewer could find what he wants. Starting from the fans and connoisseurs of Opera to those who first come to the Opera house and does not understand what is Opera.
In addition, it is important for us to raise a generation of people who will be coming to the Opera house and not to ask questions like “what is Opera, as it is necessary to listen?”. For example, we put the children’s Opera to the music of Banevich “Kai and Gerda” and we have great is this show.
– In your opinion, what should be the components of the formulation that it was in the repertoire of the Bolshoi theater?
– The name of the play. In our case these names a little – perhaps this is “La Traviata” in any form. It can be supplied with crinolines, to move in the XX century, on Mars. And still is the name and music familiar to the viewer, it would still be on her walk. Difficult with other names that are not very famous, and who need to do something to help. If the story causes some interest to today’s audience, if it is relevant, he likes it, and he continues on his walk, he “vote with their feet” – it is important for us. There are critics, experts, which statement may like it or not, that give a more professional assessment. For us, as artists, it is important and experts, versed in this genre, and it is important to know what the audience comes and how it goes with the play.
The hall is not visible, I do stand with their backs to the audience during performances, but still feel empathy, it is energetically transmitted. No matter what the setting, the main thing – touches if the viewer what an artist does on stage. Artists have to survive what you’re saying and convey that to the viewer, then the viewer will believe him.
For us, the important and classic plays, not known to the General public, and the work of contemporary authors. Mozart, Weinberg, Strauss – all composers should be. Overall, we have 80 percent of classical composers in the repertoire.
You need all the time to analyze, ponder in the right direction we are going, whether to change the vector repertory or write. I must say that now at the Bolshoi theater this was a team effort, with absolutely strict artistic hierarchy in the theatre, we’re in the same collective format discussing the creative life of the theater – his future, the repertoire policy, the policy terms searches of the artists in the troupe, orchestra, and choir.
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– The Bolshoi theatre is not only a world famous brand, but a recognized standard of excellence. What, in your opinion, is the determining factor for the success of the production? Including its commercial success.
– The plot itself. When expectations are confirmed by what is happening on stage, you want to come again. It is important that we have your performances always tried to attract the audience, to invite and others that he had an interest in the life of the theatre. Of course, while in Moscow, we understand that we are a Big theater, as you say, brand, there are people who come to look at this brand. There is always a certain percentage of the audience who came for the first time, just to visit the building of the Bolshoi theater, see theater, decoration. But it is everywhere. At the Vienna Opera house, Opera Garnier the same. And that’s great – maybe we’ll be able to convince them that Opera is very interesting, it is not elitist, but available. And then this viewer will become a supporter of our art.
– You go to the theater as a spectator?
– The schedule does not always work, but I try to go to some premieres, discoveries, new developments. Recently I was in the theater of Stanislavsky on a “Queen of Spades”. We all work in the same environment, we have only one shop. It is important to understand your colleagues, what they’re feeling this music, the Opera. As it seems, where should Opera in which direction to develop. Then we know where we are. We communicate with all Opera houses in the world – La Scala, the Metropolitan Opera. Today we must stop living with the feeling that we are great and best of us. We need to forget about it. You need to understand that there are other theatres of the country in which projects are done not worse. Grain healthy creative competition forces the theatres to move forward and develop.
– How you consider, whether artists, conductors, choreographers to work not only in Russia but also abroad? What they do for you?
– Such work is very important. The artists of my company, my approach is very simple – if they have any prompt, the priority for them is always a Big theater. But if there are interesting invitations from major Opera houses, in which the appearance of an artist of the Bolshoi theater, it is important for the artist, for the inviting party for us, I always go we try to find a compromise. We understand that the artist who cooked all the time in the same environment, and no longer feels fresh, understanding that what he was doing and where he is engaged in. When we’re doing a production of “Carmen” and then the singer’s going to Berlin and sings the same music with other artists in a different setting, something is changing in consciousness. It makes the feeling of the material by the artist more than the rich. It’s like a 3D effect. Working with another Director, the conductor and other colleagues, you will find different subtexts and meanings in one and the same music, the same score.
Such cooperation is important for the external relations of the theatre, and for the development of the artist. I always try to find the opportunity to let the artists on a major, necessary and proper for voice production. Because now artists often start singing before the music parties they sing is not necessary, because it is still early. Thus, they destroy voice and it is important for us to protect them and improve.
Because a good voice is like a fine wine, it needs to Mature. I know young artists who want to sing very early, because temptations are many. We live in the age of temptations. There are social networks, you can instantly find out what was there, who sang, who where made. And in fact any artist is a flammable internally, and difficult to restrain myself. We try our younger generation to lead, to follow him. They had not sang that they do not need. Then they will be able to develop at a pace which can develop their voice.
We have such a problem – besides the fact that we are the audience, the repertoire, we are looking for interesting to the public of the name, it is important to maintain the tradition established by its predecessors, as well as increase it. We try to educate artists. Because the theatre without actors it is just a building.
– You said that such cooperation is important for the external relations of the theater. What does this mean?
– When we let go of the guys to do on other sites, it allows the foreign audience to get acquainted with those talented guys, which exist today in the Bolshoi theatre. This means that the credibility of the current level of young singers in the Bolshoi theatre. Today in theatre work, other people will never be second Arkhipova or Exemplary, it’s impossible, people lived in a different era, they are made of a different material. But the talent we can be proud of the number of people that we have in the country. And which the Bolshoi theatre attracts.
It is important for us to show that we had a rich history, there is a tradition, but we don’t live by feeling the greatness of their own past history, we are moving forward. And today we have young artistic forces. Thus, the viewer realizes that the theatre is alive, evolving, and then he is interested.
– Despite the great skill of the Russian artists, what do you think, is there a country or of the school, which the countrymen should learn?
– We all need to learn from each other. Part of the ballet nobody jumped. In the movies, ballet, vocal schools, we were always one step ahead. We have a great conductor’s school, despite the inherent difference in the schools of the world, including Moscow and St. Petersburg. The same can be said about our pedagogical tradition. This is probably due to the fact that we always try to improve something.
Thus, for example, the Bolshoi theatre deliberately sends our Opera singers in Italy, for example, to the great Opera singer Mirella Freni, in her Academy. Having been in the Italian environment, with Italian singers, actors differently there begin to sing an Italian Opera. Here you will never explain that his Italian or sense of style wrong. So we learn from them, they, when you come to us, learn from us what we can share. I say this without any pathos.
At the same time we must understand that all the productions that we produced here – for us it is not the end result. This is another step that we have to go. One of thousands in length, the Great wall of China. We are evaluating themselves. I always say that the most violent critics – is ourselves. Releasing a statement, we begin to analyze, understand, what happened, and what is not, where there is a dramatic failure, that need to finish. It may take two blocks of performances, and then understand why something did not happen. And sometimes, just move the pace, and everything falls into place.
I myself always angry, but when the team works with dedication, I am very happy and proud artists. But if you’re satisfied with the work, this does not mean that you are happy with the result – these are two different things. I’m a terrible perfectionist.
– Now many say about censorship, government interference in the arts. In particular, Konstantin Raikin spoke very emotionally about it. In your opinion, is there censorship in Russia?
– The subject of which you speak, I deeply know, only heard that it was actively discussed in the media. I can say that today here in the Big theatre, I have never encountered a situation where I faced any censorship, in the present state of Affairs in the Bolshoi theatre, when everyone is busy in life.
As an artist, I can say that censorship does not need anyone. If she was, today we’d all be unemployed. Because all those great works to which we are applying all the time, not censored. Any artist has the right to create freely. No matter whether we are talking about Russia, America or China. The artist’s mind not to try to crop. Because otherwise, it is not the artist. Another thing – the aesthetics of the work. That’s another question. This is very individual and personal.
Our happiness is that our genre, Opera, is what it is. Everything was laid by the great authors. We are, in principle, for them to write nothing. When we turn to the great creation of Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin” is Tchaikovsky’s genius, coupled with Pushkin… What is there to censor? Or in “La Traviata”. What there can be censorship? It’s hard for me to say as an artist, because we are Svecofennian, phrasing, put a completely different task. I have not heard this, so we were told that today at the Bolshoi theatre can’t go one or another Opera, for whatever reasons. And again, the audience always proves or shows his respect or disrespect, love theatre the way he goes to the theatre.
– You have solid experience of working abroad. Than foreign audience differs from the Russian?
– It is always different. Here it is necessary to take specifically for each country. For example, in Italy the public knows all the arias by heart and can “sabucat” singer just because he sang in cadences, in which he has the right to freely sing, interpret, sang the wrong note, which was written by Verdi. This shows knowledge and respect for this culture. Shout from the peanut gallery, I do not embellish, the way it is. All have specific, geographically.
But I would have shared the viewer to “Russian”, “Western” or otherwise. Even in Moscow the audience is different. The spectator who comes to us in “Boris Godunov”, this is not the audience that will come to Billy Budd.
But I am glad that today we have many younger visitors. In the genre of classical music audience is dying – at concerts in the halls of a predominantly European audience in a respectable age. The average age of the audience is out there – 55 – 65 years. Young people there do not go to concerts of classical music, due to the fact that there is a loss in the education system. After all, when you are introduced at school person with physics, chemistry, and so on, you have to familiarize with music, with art. He himself will decide who he become. But you, as a state, must give the person a choice, what today in Europe is not done. And that we fortunately have. I at intermission, before the start of performances look at the audience and very happy, because we are all mixed – and the audience-luminaries who have been walking for performances in the Bolshoi theatre, and youth. Go, gaze, consider lodges, gilding, chandeliers, for them it’s unusual, too, because now you are almost anywhere else this decoration will not find. And how interested they continue to come. Today in Russia there is a young audience, and I was very happy. So something we’re doing right.