Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Boris Godunov hits Athens like a meteorite

I admit that I ‘m not really into Russian opera. I know Onegin, I have heard/seen Pikovaya Dama and the Maid of Orleans a couple of time, I’ve watched live Lady Macbeth Von Mtsensk and the Liceu dvd of the same opera once but I never felt enchanted by Russian opera whatsoever. I have been trying haaaaaard to listen to the whole Godunov and the whole Khovanshchina but never did. Yes, I know I sound narrow but hey! I have my limitations and that’s just me.

Last night I had the chance to complete what I had started a hundred times but never finished: Listen to Boris Godunov! Not only listen but also watch! Watch and enjoy one of the most spectacular productions one could possibly see.

I suppose we ‘ve all more or less read about the hype that this new production of the Bolshoi Opera had caused a year ago (April 2007). The new Alexander Sokurov production was then greeted by the critics as a masterpiece. And I think this is exactly what the audience of the opening night at the Megaron of Athens thought about it. Extraordinary sets and costumes by Yuri Kuper and Pavel Kaplevich respectively, an interesting stage direction, a good cast (not excellent though) and uber alles (for me at least), the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra (and chorus) under the direction of Alexander Vedernikov.

Sokurov while rehearsing.

Ok, I know, some may say that the production was very conservative, very oldie, very typical Bolshoi, that the sets were ugly and looked cheap and that it looked like a performance of the Bolshoi in the 70's but hey! I ‘d rather see that than a production of a Godunov holding a dildo.

Almost all members of the cast were impressive. Big voices, typical Russian, by the tradition of the Bolshoi, beautiful and expressive.

Boris Godunov: Mikhail Kazakov

Xenia, his daughter: Anna Aglatova
Fyodor, his son: Sergey Belyaev / Alexandra Trubitsina
Xenia's Nurse: Evgenia Segenyuk
Prince Vasily Ivanovich Shuisky: Maxim Paster
Andrei Shchelkanov, secretary to the Duma: Yuri Laptev
Pimen, hermit chronicler: Alexander Naumenko
Pretender, the false Dimitri, Grigory Otrepiev: Vsevolod Grivnov
Marina Mnishek, daughter of the Sandomierz commander: Elena Manistina
Varlaam: Valery Gilmanov
Missail: Alexander Zakharov
Innkeeper: Oxana Kornievskaya
Simpleton: Vitaly Panfilov
Nikitich: Vladimir Krasov
Mityusha, a peasant: Nikolai Kazansky
Police officer: Vladimir Ognev
Rangoni: Pyotr Migunov, Vadim Lynkovsky
Boyar: Alexander Arkhipov

Kazakov, an excellent Boris, a bit strange looking (youngish) but majestic and imposing. Elena Manistina also a good Marina (a mediocre actress though), Vitaly Panfilov as the Holy Fool (or Simpleton) was impressive, same for Valery Gilmanov as Varlaam and Alexander Naumenko as the Pimen. I didn’t particularly like Vsevolod Grivnov as the false Dimitri/Grigory but who am I to judge.

Fotos from the curtain calls:

These were the PROS, let’s move to the CONS (that have nothing to do with the excellent performance of the Bolshoi Theatre)

The Alexandra Trianti Hall of the Athens Megaron was the REAL Siberia! Ok, Athens is hot and the temperature yesterday rose to 40 °C degrees, but hey! Would it be possible for us not to leave with a gangrene the next time? Thank you!

The Alexandra Trianti Hall was full and both nights are sold out. But I ‘d rather enjoy an opera of this magnitude in a half empty Hall than live again what I lived last night. I won’t speak about the coughing. I won’t say about the sneezing (I assume that it was due to the a/c in the Hall). I won’t even complain about people dropping stuff the whole time. Books, cell phones or whatever these f*&^%& things that were sliding off all night long were!

I hate it when people have the mentality “I have paid for a ticket and therefore I can do whatever I fancy”. No you stupid b&tch! You can’t zip and unzip your handbag every 30 seconds, you can’t take your filthy bottle of water out of a scritch-scratch plastic bag and make all this noise every 5 minutes, pretending that nobody is annoyed and above all: you cannot stretch your legs on the back of my sit and give me little earthquakes every single minute of the 4 f******** hours of the opera. Ok? Now that I wrote all these I feel really relieved.

ps. Who gave the permission to the stupid ushers to let people in 15 minutes after the performance had begun? Grrrrr....


Anonymous said...

Simfwnw me ola, kai eidika sto simeio tou koinou!Afto kai eidika ekeino tis premieras t curlew river(eixame ena koloxontro pou mas kounouse episis kai 2 vlaxantera na mi stamatoun na milane) itan aisxos!
I apantisi tou ipefthinou gia to koino pou epetrepsan na mpei mesa:
I efthini einai tou Bolshoi, afto mas eixe pei na to valoume tote, kai epeidi itan gemati i aithousa an kai sinithws tous vazoume se oti adeia perioxi iparxei, anagkastika eprepe na pane sti thesi tous!

Ekei pou diafwnw einai edw:
"Ok, I know, some may say that the production was very conservative, very oldie, very typical Bolshoi, that the sets were ugly and looked cheap and that it looked like a performance of the Bolshoi in the 70's but hey! I ‘d rather see that than a production of a Godunov holding a dildo."

Ws opados tis modernas skinothesias tha protimousa na eixe to dildo kai na kikloforouse me string!But that's me of course;)

mostly opera... said...

"I ‘d rather see that than a production of a Godunov holding a dildo."

Really? I wouldn´t :)

Excellent post. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Εγώ έκατσα στην πλατεία πίσω από την κονσόλα, όπου είχε 4 άτομα (!) εν των οποίων οι δύο έφηβοι που έπαιζαν. Φρίκη! Πάντως το φαινόμενο με το κόσμο που μπήκε μετά την πρώτη σκηνή επαναλήφθηκε και χτες

Ντέμης said...

Ἒ, ἀγαπητὲ Parsi, ἂς εἶμαι ἐγὼ αὐτὸς ποὺ θὰ συμφωνήσει μαζί σου ὅσον ἀφορᾶ τὴν σκηνοθεσία, καὶ γενικῶς καὶ στὸ συγκεκριμένο ἀνέβασμα.
Βεβαίως ἡ Ὄπερα δὲν πρέπει νὰ θεωρεῖται οὔτε νὰ εἶναι ἕνα κειμήλιο, κἄτι τελειωμένο ποὺ ἁπλᾶ συντηρεῖται γιατὶ ἀρέσει σὲ κἄποιους "τοῦ παρελθόντος αἰῶνος". Καὶ ἁπλώνεται σὲ 4 αἰῶνες (πρᾶγμα ποὺ δὲν ἰσχύει γιὰ κανενὸς ἄλλου εἴδους μουσική, ἐκτὸς τῆς Βυζαντινῆς) καὶ οἱ ἴδιες ὄπερες παρουσιάζονταν - καὶ ἑρμηνεύονταν - διαφορετικὰ τὸ 1860, τὸ 1920, σήμερα, αὔριο. Ἄρα εἶναι κἄτι ζωντανό.
Ἂς μὴν φθάνουμε ὅμως στὸ ἄλλο ἄκρο καί, προσπαθῶντας νὰ τὴν κάνουμε ἀκόμη πιὸ ἑλκυστικὴ στοὺς ἀδαεῖς, τὴν εὐτελίζουμε. Ἡ Ὄπερα εἶναι ὑψηλὴ Τέχνη καὶ ὁ κάθε ἐδιαφερόμενος πρέπει νὰ κάνει ὁ ἴδιος τὴν προσπάθεια νὰ ἀνέβει πρὸς αὐτήν, ὄχι νὰ ἔχει τὴν ἀπαίτηση νὰ κατέβει ἡ Ὄπερα στὸ δικό του χαμηλὸ ἐπίπεδο.
Γιὰ μένα ἕνα ἀπὸ αὐτὰ ποὺ μὲ τραβοῦσαν στὴν Ὄπερα ἀπὸ παιδὶ εἶναι τὸ αἴσθημα "ἐποχῆς", τὰ βαρειὰ σκηνικὰ καὶ κοστούμια, ἡ αὐλαία, ὅλα αὐτὰ ποὺ σὲ μεταφέρουν σὲ μιὰν ἄλλην ἐποχή (σὲ ἐκείνη ποὺ λαμβάνει χώραν ἕκαστο ἔργο). Ὅταν κἄποιος σκηνοθέτης ἀμφιβόλων προσόντων βάζει τὸν Τσάρο Μπορὶς νὰ βαστᾶ δονητὴ (!) ἢ κάνει τὶς τρεῖς Κόρες τοῦ Ρήνου πουτάνες ποὺ κάνουν πιάτσα σ' ἕνα ὑρδο-ηλεκτρικὸ φράγμα, ἐγὼ φρίττω! Ἄλλο πρᾶγμα τὰ ἀφαιρετικὰ συμβολιστικὰ σκηνικὰ τύπου Βήλαντ Βάγκνερ, κὶ ἄλλο ἡ διαστρεύλωση ἐκείνου ποὺ ὁραματίστηκε ὁ κἄθε συνθέτης. Ἡ Ὄπερα ἐξάλλου εἶναι ἀπὸ μόνη της δύσκολη καὶ τὰ θέματά της ἄγνωστα στὸν μέσο θεατή, καθῆκον λοιπὸν τοῦ ἑκάστοτε σκηνοθέτη πρέπει νὰ εἶναι νὰ τὴν κάνει πιὸ προσιτὴ καὶ εὐκολονόητη, κὶ ὄχι νὰ τὸν μπερδεύει
ακόμη περισσότερο βάζοντας δικά του στοιχεῖα. Ἂν ὁ κύριος σκηνοθέτης ἔχει τόσο σημαντικὰ θέματα νὰ μᾶς περάσει, ἂς κάτσει νὰ γράψει καὶ νὰ σκηνοθετήσει ἕνα δικό του ἔργο! Ὅταν πάω νὰ πληρώσω καὶ νὰ δῶ Βάγκνερ, θέλω νὰ δῶ τὴν ἰδεολογία τοῦ Βάγκνερ, ὄχι τοῦ κάθε ἄλλου τυχάρπαστου....

Anonymous said...

Now we want "Khovanshchina"

Anonymous said...

Agaphte Ntemh, an kai symfwnw se genikes grammes me to sxolio sou, auth h teleutaia frash oti plhrwneis kai 8eleis ta deis THN IDEOLOGIA tou Wagner einai ligo tromaktiko, dedomenhs ths ideologias tou syn8eth. Egw nomizw oti pame sthn opera gia na akousoume thn mousikh tou kai na jexasoume thn antidrastikh (gia na to pw eugenika) ideologia tou.
Epishs,opoios rijei mia matia sta ntokoumenta apo tis paragwges pou anebaze o idios, me tis forades epi skhnhs, ta kapellakia "Asterix" kai ta resta -o idios o Wagner eixe APAGOREUSEI opoiadhpote allagh stis skhno8etikes/ais8htikes tou protaseis (sto Festpielhaus toulaxiston)- mono na gelasei mporei pleon.
Oi monternes/updated paragwges, kai oxi mono ston Wagner, krinontai apo thn synoxh kai thn ais8itikh tous, oxi apo tis emmones mas Etsi, px, enas Boris metafermenos se periballon mesopolemikhs diktatorias endexetai na steketai, an o skhno8eths jerei giati kai pws kanei thn metafora. O perifhmos donhths, apo thn allh, den dikaiologeitai para mono ws pro8esh na sokarei tous astous (pw pw ti prototypo kai kyriws ATOPO-ektos topou, axrhsto). To na 8elei omws kaneis ton Wagner tou opws ton skhno8etouse o Richard einai san na epipenei na anebazei arxaio drama me maskes, ko8ornous kai all male cast.