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Knights of the Vine RUSSIA


Opening of the Moscow Theatre Season
Marina Lukanina

For any passionate theatre-goer, fall is defi nitely associated with the opening of a new theater season in Moscow. By October most theatres are back from their regional tours and are ready to impress the Moscow audience with their latest performances.

It is often challenging to orient yourself in a wide selection of the theatre repertoires as most of the information is available in Russian only. You often feel bewildered by the number of performances happening every evening. So this new series of articles is meant to assist the readers spoilt for choice and to give an idea of what some of the highlight performances are and, most importantly, where the theatres are located.

The Bolshoi Theater

Theater Square 1,

The Bolshoi Theater will open its 235th season with the world premiere of the ballet, And Then a Century of Peace: Creation 2010. The ballet is staged by the famous French choreographer Angelin Preljocaj. This production is part of the Year of France in Russia and the Year of Russian in France.

The ballet theme is Biblical, based on the Book of Revelation. The choreographer is eager to explore what is hidden in the human soul. The composer of the ballet is the well-known “father of the French electronic music”, Laurent Garnier. The set design is done by the Indian artist, Subodh Gupta. The costume design is provided by Igor Chapurin. This is his 5th time working at the Bolshoi Theatre.

The Maly Theater

Teatralnyi proezd 1 bld.1 (Main Stage); Bolshaya Ordynka, 69 (Additional Stage)  

If you have lived in Moscow for some time, you will probably know that next to the Bolshoi Theater (which literally means “Big Theatre”) is the Maly Theater (which means “Small Theatre”). This is the oldest theatre in Russia, having been founded in the 18th century. It is now opening its 255th season.

On October 10th it presents two famous productions, Woe from Wit by Alexander Griboedov and The Mysteries of the Madrid Court by Eugene Scrib. The first opening night of the season will be on October 11th with the comedy of Carlo Goldonni Lovers (Innamorati). This production is staged by the Italian director Stefano de Luca. It might be worth seeing an Italian comedy by the Italian director at the oldest Russian theatre.

The Chekhov Moscow Art Theater

Kamergerski Per, 3  

This theatre was an “early bird”, opening its 113th season on August 30th. The Artistic Director, the actor Oleg Tabakov, celebrated his 75th birthday a couple of weeks before the new season began.

The Italian comedy, Ghosts, by Eduardo de Fillipo, was the first to open on the main stage. It seems that the Italians are in fashion in Moscow’s theatres these days. The story in brief is the following: Pasquale and his wife move into a house that everyone considers to be haunted. Pasquale, however, is eager to experience some of the magic that is bound to happen. The cast is a reasonable mix of famous and less famous actors from three different theatres.

The Malaya Bronnaya Theater

Malaya Bronnaya Str., 4 

This theatre opened its 65th season on August 1st with the hit of last season, Arcadia, by Tom Stoppard.

The play consists of two different scenarios being acted out in the same country, but with a time diff erence of 200 years. Stoppard off ers a conceptualisation of history that challenges the idea of the linearity of time, with Byron as the central character. The play can be interpreted in many ways, such as supporting the optimistic image of history as an endless march in which nothing is lost, as compared to the manifestation of “chaos theory” where everything is lost.

The first opening night of the current season will be on October 15th with Graham Greene’s cold-war story, Our Man in Havana. The director of this production, Aleksey Frolenkov, defines the genre as “spy detective parody”.

In November another opening night will introduce a new interpretation of Gogol’s famous play, The Government Inspector.

An interesting production already running, called Late Love, is worth mentioning. This is a joint international theatre project by the Malaya Bronnaya Theatre, the Israeli production company, Ametist, and the Gesher Theatre, also from Israel. The director, Evgeny Arbie, from the Gesher Theatre, offers a tragi-comedy based on Valery Mukharyamov’s play, inspired by the story of the Nobel Prize winner, Isaak Bashevis Singer, called In the Shadow of a Vineyard. This is a story of an old lonely man, Harry Bedinger, who lived a hard life. A sudden encounter with an extraordinary woman makes Harry completely reconsider his life and reflect on his past, present and future.

This production stands out by the fact that the leading actress here is Clara Novikova, who is a well-known comic of the “language genre” rather than a theatre actress as such. It is a little bit odd to see her in that capacity. However, for the most part she does a splendid job. Leonid Kanevsky plays the role of Harry in a very sincere and moving way. He manages to fi nd the right words and intonation to touch the hearts of people in the audience.

Moscow Theatre of Young Audiences

Mamonovsky per., 10  

One should not be confused by the name of this theatre. Even though there are several productions targeted at children and youth, the majority of the theatre’s repertoire is for adults. The director, Genrietta Yanovskaya, strongly believes that it is unacceptable for adults to be bored during performances for children. Her opinion is echoed by the words of the world famous actor and director and one of the founders of the Moscow Art Theatre, Konstantin Stanislavsky, who used to say that it is necessary to act in front of children in the same way as for adults, but only better.

One item in the repertoire, the children’s story The Wolf and Seven Little Goats, could be enjoyed by children and adults alike. It is a musical production with beautiful set designs and lively acting. The composer Aleksey Rybnikov and the poet Yuri Entin in tandem make an impressive contribution to a production team headed by Henrietta Yanovskaya. This age-old fairy-tale story is presented in an original and humorous way. Children from the age of five are welcome. There is no upper age limit.

Moscow Palace of Youth

Komsomolsky prospect, 28 Zorro Musical

Moscow is becoming a centre of musical culture. After the huge success of Beauty and the Beast, another musical is coming to Moscow: Zorro. It has already conquered London audiences at the Garrick Theatre, and impressed Parisian theatre-goers at the Folies Bergere. Now it is Moscow’s turn to enjoy this passionate story with a Spanish flavour.

The cast includes people from five nationalities, who speak four different languages. One of the most popular music and opera theatre directors, Christopher Renshaw, is working on this production. Renshaw staged Eugene Onegin together with Mstislav Rostropovich during the Olboro Festival, and Luiza Miller with Luciano Pavarotti in Philadelphia.

This is a love story with an infectious plot, beautiful flamenco dancing and the magical music of Gypsy Kings. It started on September 25th and will be running every day thereafter.

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