Friday, March 5, 2010

An Evening of Tchaikovsky Operas Scenes in Concert, Kennedy Center, Washington 4. Mar 2010

The Mariinsky Opera and Orchestra led by Valery Gergiev is in Washington to perform in a series of operas and concerts at the Kennedy Center Opera House.

Yesterday, 4. March 2010, the Mariinsky Opera and Orchestra with special guest Anna Netrebko and Valery Gergiev conducting, performed in "An Evening of Tchaikovsky Operas Scenes in Concert". The programme included scenes from Mazeppa, The Queen of Spades and Iolanta.


An Evening of Tchaikovsky Operas Scenes in Concert
Kennedy Center Opera House, Washington 4. March 2010


Act II, Scenes 2 and 3
Mazeppa: Edem Umerov
Maria: Victoria Yastrebova
Lyubov: Elena Vitman
Kochubey: Mikhail Kit
Iskra: Dmitri Voropaev
Drunk Cossack: Nikolay Gassiev


Act II, Scene 2
Prilepa: Irina Mataeva
Zlatogor: Edem Umerov
Milovzor: Zlata Bulycheva

Selected Scenes
Iolanta: Anna Netrebko
Robert: Alexei Markov
Count Vaudémont: Sergei Skorokhodov

Our blogfriend Howard and his wife Paula attended this concert performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington. Howard has kindly written the following report for the blog:
My wife Paula and I, were treated to a thrilling evening of the Mariinsky orchestra, chorus and solists conducted by Valery Gergiev. It indeed was a very special 60th birthday present that I will chersih. The opera house at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC is a beautiful and intimate hall overlooking the Potomic River that is generally reserved for the Kennedy Center Awards and the Washingon Opera Company led by Placido Domingo. In this 2 year cultural exchange with Russia, the Mariinsky Theater showcased its star talent. One quickly apprecites how the Russians have embraced and nurtured culture and music. Gergiev and Netrebko have elevated the bar to a very high standard and deserve much acclaim and accolades.

We treated ourselves to orchestra seats (5th row center) about 20 feet from the stage and it was worth every moment of this indulgence. The orchestra led by Gergiev was stylish, well-honed and provided an exquisite ensemble. The stage was crowded with orchestra and full chorus. The orchestra was in full formal attire and the chorus had matching couture including scarves for the women. Gergiev conducts to precision without a baton using only his fingers to nuance color from the orchestra. It was full drama from the outset with outstanding brass and percussion sections. One only has to imagine the string section all in unison with piannisimo staccato that sounded like rain drops falling in unision. The sound was just heavenly. This is a much more intimate setting than the Metropolitan opera which commands a great and expansive presence.

While I will not attempt to review the entire concert which was just truly spectacular, I will devote some time to the evening's culmination with Iolanta. Ms Netrebko arrived in a gorgeous aqua gown cinched at her left waist and flaired at the bottom The bodice was wrapped tightly and adorned with silver sequins and a simple elegance. From the moment she walked on stage you sensed the frightened look of an adolescent blind girl who has never experienced love. Her uncanny ability to act was truly amazing. Her blank stare, expressions of fright and tears only added to the mystique when she sang alongside the tenor. The awakening of both passion at love by this young girl who did not understand the meaning of light was very intimate. This was the birth of a budding initial romance. Aside from impassioned singing and charasmatic charm, you had to witness the transformation in her persona to understand how Anna has viewed her craft and art form. She has truly melded impassioned singing with a deeper understanding and portayal of her role. As has been stated in a very simplistic cliches, she is a stage animal ruling the enviroment. This does not even come close to the passion, talent and ability that she has developed in recent years. It has been said that singing in your native language is the epitome of your talent and this was certainly true. This opera, Iolantta is melodious, full of passion and drama and true to Tschaikovsky art form. Anna's singing was passionate, elegant and befitting for the role. She made you feel that she was in the opera rather than a staged performance. I cannot stress the color and resonance of her voice which was far superior to her outstanding counterparts from the rest of the performance. Russia has developed significant talents and depth in orchestral, ballet and opera and Ms. Netrebko has indeed become the cultural ambassador of the world showcasing this talent.

Returning to the scene from Iolanta, Ms. Netrebko sang with fierce personality, drama and changed her intensity and vocal strucure from a shy reclusive adolecent to a passionate and dramatic lover discovering companionship and true romance. The transformation from a shy, reticent and frail girl into a first sensuous love was dramatic and effective. A frightened blind glance evolved into a radient dramatic style and embrace. It was remarkable to behold. Her last nights were in a high register soaring with intensity, confidence and reminiscent of her now iconic Salzburg Traviata. My wife kept commenting how different she looked from her dying role in La Bohème. The scene ended with Anna in passionate embrace kissing her newly found lover. Netrebko's hands speak for themselves. They reflect elegance, sensuality and style. It was indeed a very memorable and wonderful performace that I will cherish for a long time. It concluded with a rousing standing ovation. As you can imagine the audience was filled with many Russian expatriots who truly appreciate the arts. We met people from the Washington, DC area who had also seen the recent La Bohème at the Met and were astonished by her capabilities.

The curtain calls were numerous to a boisterous crowd and Anna waived with her signature waive that is now known to her many admirers.

Press Reviews
[1] Music Review of the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra at the Kennedy Center | By Anne Midgette | Washington Post | 6. March 2010

Blog Reports
Ionarts: Concerts from the Mariinsky Theater

Alexei Markov and Anna Netrebko, Kennedy Center, Washington 4. Mar 2010. Photo: Brian

Alexei Markov, Anna Netrebko and Sergei Skorokhodov, Kennedy Center, Washington 4. Mar 2010. Photo: Brian

Anna Netrebko and Alexei Markov, Kennedy Center, Washington 4. Mar 2010. Photo: Brian

Valery Gergiev, Anna Netrebko and Alexei Markov, Kennedy Center, Washington 4. Mar 2010. Photo: Brian

Valery Gergiev, Anna Netrebko and Alexei Markov, Kennedy Center, Washington 4. Mar 2010. Photo: Brian

Valery Gergiev, Anna Netrebko and Sergei Skorokhodov, Kennedy Center, Washington 4. Mar 2010. Photo: Brian

Anna Netrebko at the stage door after the concert, Kennedy Center, Washington 4. Mar 2010. Photo: Brian

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  1. A first review can be found in Opera-L. A Great Evening! Looking forward to reading Howard review!

  2. I was supposed to go to that, but my husband is out of town, so for the lack of babysitters I had to skip it. What a shame.

  3. Thanks Howard for the fantastic review!

  4. May I offer one more appreciation of Anna's appearance with Gergiev and the Mariinsky company in Washington March 4?

    There was fine, often thrilling orchestral playing and rich choral singing. But until the Iolanta portion, which came last, the company's program of scenes from three Tchaikovsky operas lacked narrative context and any real drama. Some very good and some just ok singing by soloists mostly statically arrayed in muted concert dress. Then came the scene from Iolanta: one is meant to imagine a sylvan paradise outside the palace of Iolanta's father. There, having just arrived, Robert (Alexey Markov, in a rich, strong baritone) and Count Vaudemont (Sergey Skorokhodov, a pleasing light, lyric tenor), both in tuxedoes, discuss the real or wished-for women in their lives. Robert, engaged to an Iolanta whom he has never met and wishes would cease to exist, raves about his real, flesh-and-blood girlfriend. Vaudemont, rather stiffly, evokes an imagined creature of transcendent physical beauty and spiritual grace whom he despairs of ever meeting. But suddenly there she is, his vision incarnate, entering stage left in a bright floor-length turquoise blue gown, pinched at the knees and flaired below, with a pleated bustle drawn up at the side - a gown fit for the princess that Iolanta is and fitting like a dream the the gorgeous figure of a radiant Anna Netrebko. Like a Technicolor image thrust into a black and white film, she is a vivid, dramatically arresting presence before she sings a note. There was a storm of applause (through which Gergiev lead his forces unperturbed), not just a polite acknowledgement of the appearance of the star, but a spontaneous response to a concert stage become enchanged bower, an evening instantly transformed. And transformed it remained, as Anna made her glorious, pliable voice the subtle servant of the changing moods - uncertainty, distress, excitement and finally transport - of a young woman awakening to a realization of her blindness and then to love. Was it only 20 minutes? But does one count minutes of enchantment, as Anna/Iolanta,

    "In some melodious plot
    of beechen green, and shadows
    Singestof summer in full-throated

    (Returning to earth, and with apologies to Keats.) As always with Anna, from the moment of entrance to the final wild applause, she inhabited the character and made you believe. Part of what makes her so convincing dramatically in most roles is the way sho visually engages and constanty reacts to her partners on stage. Here, as a blind girl, the full engagement was there but without direct eye contact, the gaze of sightless eyes slightly misdireted, abstracted.

    In week, we are off to New York for our next dispensation of Netrebko magic: Anna as Mimi at the Met, where we will also see Hamlet and Attila. We were there in December, 2007 for her single earlier performance of the role in the same production, with Rolando villazon as her Rodolfo (a performance in which Placido Domingo, conducting, was booed by a boisterous claque that blamed him for failing to keep the orchestra in synch with some of Anna's rubattos). Judging by the Met broadcast of a week ago. we will have another memorable night at the opera to savor.

  5. Thank you very much for sharing your impressions about the concert and for doing iy with such a detail that one almost can be seeing what happened.

    I am sure you will enjoy also so much La Bohème, I have been listening three out of the five performances till now and both Anna and Piotr were magnificent. You would be very much welcome if you like to send us a review to be published on the blog! Same if you get some photos at the stage door or curtain calls or so...


  6. Thank you very much Brian for the wonderful collection of photos!



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