"The Stars of the White Nights 2008" International Ballet and Opera Festival
10 May - 27 July 2008
Mariinsky Theatre and Concert Hall
Artistic Director: Maestro Valery Gergiev
In its 225th year, the theatre will pay tribute to great composers and performers of the Petersburg-Petrograd-Leningrad, all those illustrious, talented artists whose names are firmly fixed in the history of the Mariinsky Theatre and world music.
The festival programme includes masterpieces by Rimsky-Korsakov, a well-known figure in Russian opera and a composer whose works connect the nineteenth and twentieth centuries: when he was born in 1844, Glinka was still living, and his death in 1908 in a sense marked the end of an age, though Rimsky-Korsakov's young students Stravinsky and Prokofiev were already creating new works, and the two-year-old "Mitya" Shostakovich was being introduced to the world of music by his parents at home. Rimsky-Korsakov's operas The Maid of Pskov, The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh, The Snow Maiden and Sadko will be performed along with famous operas by his contemporaries and heirs: Borodin's Prince Igor, Glinka's Ruslan and Lyudmila, Musorgsky's Boris Godunov, Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin and the Queen of Spades, Prokofiev's Love for Three Oranges and Betrothal in a Monastery and Dmitry Shostakovich's The Nose.
The festival repertoire covers the most glittering pages in the history of the Mariinsky Ballet, from Petipa to Ratmansky: stars of the ballet and the widely acclaimed corps de ballet in perfomances that define the company's historic past as seen in works by Petipa, Choreographers influenced by the Petersburg stage – Michel Fokine andGeorge Balanchine – and a contemporary repertoire of ballets by Forsythe and Ratmansky. Ratmansky's Le Baiser de la fee to music by Stravinsky is returning to the Mariinsky Theatre, and Pierrot Lunaire to music by Schonberg will be performed for the first time in Petersburg as part of an evening of the choreographer's works with Mariinsky Theatre prima ballerina Diana Vishneva for whom the ballet was staged. The ballet programme will see perfomances by the theatre's renowned soloists, the embodiment of the Mariinsky Ballet – Ulyana Lopatkina, Diana Vishneva, Igor Zelensky, Andrian Fadeyev and Igor Kolb, as well as the younger generation of ballet dancers gaining in fame today – Viktoria Tereshkina, Leonid Sarafanov, Olesya Novikova, Yevgenia Obraztsova, Alina Somova, Vladimir Shklyarov and Mikhail Lobukhin. Many ballets and programmes in the ballet playbill are dedicated to legendary names of our theatre: Anna Pavlova, Mathilde Kshessinska, Vaslav Nijinsky, Tamara Karsavina, Olga Spesivtseva, Konstantin Sergeyev, Natalia Dudinskaya, Rudolf Nureyev, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Irina Kolpakova.
There will be a unique tribute to figures of Petrograd-Leningrad musical figures in the form of a concert celebrating seventy-five years of the Composers' Union at the theatre's Concert Hall with a programme of works of all composers that have headed the Union: Shcherbachev, Chulaki, Dunayevsky, Soloviev-Sedoi and Petrov; there will also be concerts dedicated to outstanding conductors: Coates, Dranishnikov, Mravinsky, Khaikin and Semionov. The festival will also see perfomances of productions by Yuri Temirkanov dating from his time at the theatre – The Queen of Spades and Eugene Onegin.
Twice staged at the legendary Metropolitan Opera and causing huge interest among audiences and critics, the theatre's most ambitious project of recent years – Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen – returns to its home following triumphant world tours, from Germany, Japan and South Korea to the Met, to be staged as part of the theatre's Wagnerian project. This perfomance of the Ring will be enhanced by its star cast: Nikolai Putilin, Larisa Diadkova, Alexei Tanovitsky, Yevgeny Nikitin, Lasisa Gogolevskaya, Olga Savova, Olga Sergeyeva and Vasily Gorshko. The perfomance of Wagner's operas will be a tribute to great Kirov Theatre singers Bulat Minzhilkiev and Yevgenia Tselovalnik.
Having proved a sensation in Paris, Los Angeles, New York and Rotterdam, Wagner's opera Tristan und Isolde with video designs by renowned American artist Bill Viola will be seen in Russia for the first time. The shocking synthesis of contemporary art and opera will be staged twice at the Mariinsky Theatre Concert Hall.
The theatre's most recent Wagnerian premiere – Der Fliegende Hollander – will also be performed with an amazing cast headed by Yevgeny Nikitin, whose interpretation of the role of the Dutchman was ecstatically received by European audiences at the German premiere "Golden voices" of world opera will be performing solo recitals and in operas: Bryn Terfel, Olga Borodina, Maria Guleghina, Dmitry Hvorostovsky, Feruccio Furlanetto, Thomas Hampson, Rene Pape, Ramon Vargas and Yekaterina Gubanova.
Chamber concerts at the Concert Hall include appearances by famed virtuoso instrumentalists: Alfred Brendel, Maxim Vengerov and Leonidas Kavakos; and the music world's rising stars Denis Matsuev, Alexei Volodin, Olga Kern and Christian Blackshaw, prize-winner at the VI International Tchaikovsky Competition. Chamber ensembles taking part in the festival include Yuri Bashmet and his Moscow Soloists, who have appeared many times over the years and developed a love of Petersburg, the Jerusalem Quartet, and the Casals Quartet – impressive chamber orchestras that have made themselves great reputations this century.
Opera premieres at the festival include works from the 20th and 21st centuries: Ravel's L'Heure espagnol, Puccini's Gianni Schicchi, Szymanowski's King Roger, Shchedrin's The Enchanted Wanderer and Smelkov's The Brothers Karamazov (world rpemiere). L'Heure espagnoland Gianni Schicchi will be performed in Russian – following the success of the Russian-language version of Mozart's Die Zauberflote, the theatre is continuing its practice of performing great operas in Russian.
A special place in the Stars of the White Nights 2008 festival is occupied by a mini-festival of French music, combining works by Saint-Saens, Bizet, Berlioz, Ravel, Messiaen and Honegger. The festival programme includes many works by ninety-one-year-old contemporary composer Henri Dutilleux, a major figure of 20th century European culture and special guest of the festival. His appearance in Petersburg will be an event of exceptional importance. Many of his works are to be performed in Russia for the first time.
Following Shostakovich and Mahler symphony series in the 2006 and 2007 festivals, this year will see perfomances of all of Sibelius' symphonies by the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, referred to by Britain's Financial Times as the only Russian ensemble in the world's top ten ensembles. Works by the great Finnish composer will be performed under the batons of conductors Valery Gergiev, Gianandrea Noseda and Paavo Jarvi.