"The Stars of the White Nights 2004" International Ballet and Opera Festival
30 May - 18 July 2004
Artistic Director: Maestro Valery Gergiev
Over seven weeks there will be over sixty performances and concerts at the Mariinsky Theatre, the Great and Small Halls of the St Petersburg Conservatoire and the Hermitage Theatre as well beyond St Petersburg in Kaliningrad, Vyborg, Ivangorod and Tikhvin.
Highlights of the Festival include:
• a premiere of Mikhail Glinka's opera A Life for the Tsar, marking two hundred years since the composer's birth
• the second Russian performance of a new production of Richard Wagner's tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen (10-15 June)
• stars of the Mariinsky Opera Olga Borodina, Anna Netrebko and Vladimir Galuzin performing their finest roles in operas and solo concerts
• a series of performances entitled The Balanchine Century (2-7 June), marking one hundred years since the birth of George Balanchine, the 20th century's greatest choreographer
• a series of Piano Stars of the White Nights concerts with virtuoso performers Mikhail Pletnev, Alexander Toradze, Yefim Bronfman, Vladimir Feltzman and Tsimon Barto.
The Festival will open with a series of performances marking two hundred years since the birth of Mikhail Glinka, the forefather of Russian classical music. The premiere of the opera A Life for the Tsar (Stage Director and Production Designer: Dmitry Chernyakov) coincides with the date of Glinka's birth. It was with a performance of this opera that the Mariinsky Theatre opened in 1860, but from 1939 the theatre staged a censored version entitled Ivan Susanin. In this anniversary year, the composer's original version with its libretto by Baron Rosen will return to the Mariinsky Theatre. As part of the anniversary celebrations, there will also be a Tribute to Glinka on Theatre Square together with the St Petersburg Conservatoire and a performance of the opera Ruslan and Lyudmila at the theatre, with the revived sets and costumes by Alexander Golovin and Konstantin Korovin from the 1904 production. The Mariinsky Theatre will be hosting the Glinka and Musical Theatre round table with music historians from Russia and abroad and will also participate in an exhibition dedicated to the composer organised by the St Petersburg Museum of Theatre and Music.
As part of the Festival, the Mariinsky Theatre will be staging the season's opera premieres: Saint-Saëns' Samson et Dalila (Stage Director: Charles Roubaud; Set Designer: Emmanuel Favre), Shostakovich's The Nose (Stage Director: Yuri Alexandrov; Set Designer: Zinovy Margolin) and Rimsky-Korsakov's The Snow Maiden (Stage Director: Alexander Galibin; Set Designer: George Tsypin).
10-15 June will see the second Russian performance of a new production of Richard Wagner's tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen, which the international press has hailed as "a truly historic and epoch-making event". Germany's Tagesspiegel wrote that "the Russians have emerged the victors from The Ring. This Ring has shown this land of great, powerful voices has once again produced magnificent Wagnerian performers".
The opera programme of this year's Festival will focus much attention on works by Rimsky-Korsakov. In addition to the theatre's recent premieres of The Golden Cockerel and The Snow Maiden, there will be a performance of Sadko and concert performances of the rarely performed Mlada and May Night. The Festival playbill includes programmes In Honour of Shostakovich and In Honour of Stravinsky, which will see performances of these composers' opera, ballet and symphony music. As part of the Festival, there will also be performances of Verdi's Requiem, Don Carlos and Otello.
The stars of the Mariinsky Opera will be performing their best roles: Olga Borodina will sing Dalila in Saint-Saëns' Samson et Dalila and in Verdi's Requiem; Anna Netrebko will perform as Violetta in Verdi's La traviata and as Musette in Puccini's La Boheme; and Vladimir Galuzin will sing in Verdi's Otello and Tchaikovsky's The Queen of Spades. Alongside Mariinsky Theatre soloists, renowned Italian bass Ferruccio Furlanetto will sing in Boris Godunov and Don Carlos and leading Italian soprano Barbara Frittoli will perform in Verdi's Requiem.
The Festival's symphony programme will see performances by the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra under the baton of Valery Gergiev and Gianandrea Noseda, principal guest conductor of the Mariinsky Theatre, and regular Festival guest Christoph Eschenbach, the renowned German conductor and pianist. Mikhail Pletnev, Alexander Toradze, Yefim Bronfman, Vladimir Feltzman and Tsimon Barto will perform in a series of piano concerts during the Festival.
The ballet company will stage a series of performances entitled The Balanchine Century (2-7 June), marking one hundred years since the birth of George Balanchine, the 20th century's greatest choreographer. In addition to Balanchine's own works, there will be performances of ballets by his predecessors and his heirs - Marius Petipa, Fyodor Lopukhov, Vaslav Nijinsky, Bronislava Nijinska and William Forsythe. Artists from the leading ballet theatres from Russia and abroad, including the Perm Theatre of Opera and Ballet, the Opéra de Paris, American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet, will perform alongside Mariinsky Theatre soloists. Celebrations at the Mariinsky Theatre marking this anniversary of Balanchine are to include an exhibition and international conference entitled The Balanchine Century in the Hermitage Theatre.
The ballet programme for the Festival includes great classics such as Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky and Petipa/Ivanov, Don Quixote by Minkus and Gorsky, La Bayadere by Minkus and Petipa, ballets by Fokine, Vaslav Nijinsky, Bronislava Nijinska, Zakharov and Lavrovsky reflecting the search for new choreography in the early 20th century as well as the theatre's most recent works - Chemiakin and Simonov's Nutcracker, Prokofiev's Cinderella, choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky, and the ballets of William Forsythe. Performers will include Mariinsky Theatre soloists Zhanna Ayupova, Diana Vishneva, Ulyana Lopatkina, Daria Pavlenko, Natalia Sologub, Igor Zelensky, Igor Kolb and Andrian Fadeyev. As part of the Festival, there will be performances by the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet at the Mariinsky Theatre. There will also be a gala concert marking 125 years since the birth of this great ballerina and teacher, whose career was closely linked to the glory of the St Petersburg ballet school.
The theatre will continue its tradition of performing outside St Petersburg: the Mariinsky Ballet Company will be performing for the first time in Kaliningrad and Ivangorod, there will be a performance of Richard Wagner's Der Fliegende Holländer in Vyborg Castle and Rimsky-Korsakov's opera The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maid Fevronia will be performed at the Monastery of the Virgin in Tikhvin to honour the return to Russia of the Tikhvin Icon of Our Lady.
The Festival will also be hosting the traditional Stars of the White Nights Ball in the Catherine Palace in Tsarskoe Selo, bringing the Festival to a grand culmination.