"The Stars of the White Nights 2020" International Ballet and Opera Festival
Mariinsky Theatre, New Theatre and Concert Hall
Artistic Director: Maestro Valery Gergiev
About "The Stars of the White Nights" Festivals
The Stars of the White Nights is one of the brightest stars of the music and theatre universe and has emerged to be one of the most popular and grandiose music forums in its context and scale.
The Stars of the White Nights Festival was created in 1993 by Maestro Valery Gergiev, Mariinsky Theatre Artistic and General Director. Maestro Gergiev says that he conceived the first Festival as a "musical gift" to the city from the Mariinsky and its star-artists. From the very beginning, the Festival has been focused on the masterpieces of the world's music discovering for its audience some rarely performed or undeservedly forgotten pieces.
The Stars of the White Nights Festival has gained in strength, popularity and international acclaim. The duration of the Festival it has expanded from ten days to three months during the last sixteen year. Renowned conductors and star-artists take as great honour the invitation to perform at the Stars of the White Nights. Each year the Festival programme includes the Theater's finest opera and ballet productions, great symphonic works, masterpieces of chamber music and new premieres.
During the last years, the Festival programme has included the works created by the great classical composers – Beethoven symphonies, Prokofiev's and Tchaikovsky's operas, ballets and symphony music. Major events at the Stars have included the production of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, in addition to the Shostakovich and Mahler Symphonies series.
This festival is a must for ballet, opera and classical music amateurs. The annual Stars of the White Nights Festival takes an inspiration for its name from the short summer season when the sun never sets, and the beauty of St-Petersburg White Nights contributes to the festival's special atmosphere and its world-class programme of concerts, as audience comes out of the historic theatre at midnight into daylight to stroll along the streets of the theatrical setting of St Petersburg.
The Stars of the White Nights 2020
20 June - 6 September 2020
Mariinsky Theatre, New Theatre and Concert Hall
Artistic Director: Maestro Valery Gergiev
On 6 September 2020 the XXVIII Stars of the White Nights music festival and the 2019-20 theatre season will draw to a close at the Mariinsky Theatre. The music forum, the first in Russia to open on 20 June 2020 following an enforced interruption and now unprecedented in terms of scale, has lasted more than two months. Over this period, the Mariinsky Theatre's venues have hosted over one hundred and ten events.
On 20 June 2020 the Mariinsky Theatre was open its doors to the public for the first time in three months and has hosted two concerts. The theatre's first honorary guests were medical professionals from St Petersburg. For these concerts the theatre has assembled its greatest performers – top soloists of the Mariinsky Opera and Orchestra.
The first event was a concert performance of Pyotr Tchaikovsky's opera Iolanta which took place on 7 July 2020 and which marked 180 years since the birth of the composer. The lead roles was performed by a strong cast featuring the finest soloists of the Mariinsky Opera, among them Irina Churilova (Iolanta), Stanislav Trofimov (René, King of Provence), Sergei Skorokhodov (Count Vaudémont), Alexei Markov (Robert) and Vladislav Sulimsky (Ibn-Hakia). On 8 July 2020 Giuseppe Verdi's Il trovatore amassed another outstanding cast: Tatiana Serjan as Leonora, Ekaterina Semenchuk as Azucena, Najmiddin Mavlyanov as Manrico and Vladislav Sulimsky as the Conte di Luna. Valery Gergiev conducted on both evenings.
At the festival on 9 and 10 July 2020 there was a performance by the Mariinsky Theatre's longstanding friend Denis Matsuev, one of Russia's greatest living pianists. On 9 July 2020 together with the orchestra under Valery Gergiev he performed Dmitry Shostakovich's First Piano Concerto. The programme also included Rodion Shchedrin's Naughty Limericks and the suite from the ballet Konyok-Gorbunok (The Little Humpbacked Horse) as well as Anatoly Lyadov's Kikimora. On the second evening, Matsuev will be presenting a recital programme featuring works by Robert Schumann, Sergei Prokofiev, Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Igor Stravinsky.
At the matinee on 11 July 2020 the Mariinsky Theatre presented another opera – a concert performance of Camille Saint-Saëns' Samson et Dalila, while in the evening and on 12 July 2020 dance fans could expected to see three gala concerts with stars of the Mariinsky Ballet and the next generation of young performers who have already made a name for themselves. Choreographic miniatures, scenes from ballet classics and contemporary works was performed by Ekaterina Kondaurova, Oxana Skorik, Alina Somova, Viktoria Tereshkina, Olesia Novikova, Maria Khoreva, Maria Iliushkina, Timur Askerov, Andrei Yermakov, Kimin Kim, Xander Parish, Vladimir Shklyarov, Konstantin Zverev and Alexander Sergeyev among others.
On 14 July 2020 at the Mariinsky II under Valery Gergiev there was a rare performance of Mascagni's opera Cavalleria rusticana. For the first time at the Mariinsky Theatre, the role of Santuzza was sung by Ekaterina Semenchuk, one of the world's greatest mezzo-sopranos. The singer was partnered by Najmiddin Mavlyanov (Turiddu), Yekaterina Sergeyeva (Lola), Roman Burdenko (Alfio) and Elena Vitman (Mamma Lucia). On 17 July 2020 Ekaterina Semenchuk also appeared in recital at the Concert Hall.
The first "non-concert-performance" was Puccini's La Bohème, an opera about life filled with reverie and hopes. The production by Ian Judge, which has been performed for almost twenty years at the historic Mariinsky Theatre, was moved to the Mariinsky II for the very first time.
The playbill for the Concert Hall was adorned by the names of performers in various Mariinsky Theatre ensembles. On 16 July 2020 there was a concert by one of the public's favourite theatre ensembles – Renaissance Percussion. The musicians, who are always remarkable for affording a fresh look at the traditional repertoire, performed original works, compositions from films and famous opera arias arranged for percussion.
On two occasions at the Stars there was appearances by one of the greatest Russian pianists who enjoys a reputation as a musician of rare aristocratism – Nikolai Lugansky.
On 21 July 2020, the Mariinsky-II was seen the return of Ian Judge's staging of Wagner's opera Der Fliegende Holländer. For this performance, Valery Gergiev has assembled an amazing vocal ensemble: the Dutchman was sung by Yevgeny Nikitin, one of the greatest Wagnerian singers of the present day, the role of Senta by Elena Stikhina, Daland by Mikhail Petrenko and Erik by Sergei Skorokhodov.
Two new programmes was presented by stars of the ballet company. Divertissements featured famous classical pas de deux and contemporary works including Maxim Petrov's ballet Russian Dead-Ends set to music by Nastasya Khrushcheva, which entered the theatre's repertoire after being performed at the Creative Workshop of Young Choreographers in 2020.
On 30 July 2020 ballet performances returned to the Mariinsky-II once again with the one-act works Le Jeune Homme et la mort by Roland Petit, In the Night by Jerome Robbins and Le Spectre de la rose and The Dying Swan by Michel Fokine. The first two-act performance featured not just soloists but also dancers of the corps de ballet was La Sylphide, known as a manifesto of ballet romanticism.
On 31 July and 1 August 2020 the Stars of the White Nights festival hosted performances by young pianists who are steadily leaving behind their status as rising stars and acquiring a new one – that of acclaimed recital musicians with packed schedules: Alexandra Dovgan, Abisal Gergiev and Arseny Mun. The name of Alexandra Dovgan is known not just to Russian music-lovers. Her concerts take place at internationally renowned venues, among them the Philharmonie in Berlin, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Konzerthaus in Berlin, the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris and the Salzburg Festival.
On 1 August 2020 the historic theatre opened its doors to the public with Verdi's opera Rigoletto. The title role was sung by Vladislav Sulimsky, the role of Gilda was performed by Olga Peretyatko, one of the most sought-after sopranos in the world. On several occasions, the singer has performed in this opera at theatres in New York, Madrid, Vienna, Paris and Berlin, although this was her first appearance in the Mariinsky Theatre's production. The role of the Duke was performed by Alexander Mikhailov, while the stellar cast was conducted by Valery Gergiev.
Yet another oustanding cast was featured in Verdi's Attila. Ildar Abdrazakov has come to the festival for this role, one of the finest in his repertoire. He will be partnered onstage by Tatiana Serjan (Odabella), Sergei Skorokhodov (Foresto) and Vladislav Sulimsky (Ezio).
On 7 August 2020 for the first time following a lengthy interval at the Mariinsky Theatre, there was a complete performance of Tchaikovsky's most monumental and ambitious work, The Maid of Orleans. The incredibly demanding role of Joan was performed by the dazzling Ekaterina Semenchuk.
On 23 August 2020 the Mariinsky Theatre has seen the return of a legendary production – David Freeman's staging of Sergei Prokofiev's The Fiery Angel. The images of the characters of this mystical opus was brought to life by stars of the Mariinsky Opera – Elena Stikhina appeared as Renata alongside Yevgeny Nikitin as Ruprecht. Valery Gergiev conducted.
For the closing days of the Stars of the White Nights festival, the theatre has prepared a rich and intense programme for audiences: the premiere of a new production of Rimsky-Korsakov's opera "The Snow Maiden" and a performance of a revival of "The Fiery Angel" by Prokofiev to be conducted by Valery Gergiev (2 September 2020), concerts by virtuoso pianist Daniil Trifonov (3 and 4 September), gala concerts and an evening of one-act ballets. the Stars of the White Nights will be closing simultaneously at the Mariinsky Theatre's three venues: at the Historic theatre there will be a performance of Verdi's opera "Rigoletto" featuring Vladislav Sulimsky, Albina Shagimuratova and Mikhail Petrenko, at the Mariinsky II there will be an evening of one-act ballets with Viktoria Tereshkina, Yekaterina Kondaurova and Kimin Kim, and the Concert Hall will be hosting the final evening of the series All Tchaikovsky Romances which has been prepared by the Mariinsky Academy of Young Opera Singers.
In addition to its traditional programme, the theatre continued its online work by broadcasting several festival events and screening its finest recordings.