On September 11, 2018 the Primorsky Stage of the Mariinsky Theatre saw the first premiere of the season: The Tsar’s Bride opera by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov was presented to the public. The premiere was created especially for the Primorsky Stage and took place on the opening day of the Eastern Economic Forum, becoming the central event of his cultural program. The show was visited by Olga Golodets, Deputy Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation for Culture, Sports and Tourism.
The main parts in the performance were sung by the leading soloists of the Mariinsky Opera of the Primorsky Stage: Anastasia Kikot, Laura Bustamante, Alex Bublik, Sergei Pleshivtsev, Roman Krukovic, Alexei Kostyuk, Alena Diyanova, Eugene Plekhanov. The musical director of the production Pavel Smelkov noted that The Tsar’s Bride opera was ideally suited to the troupe of the Primorsky Stage and that it enabled the soloists to show their talents to best advantage. The musical consultant of the production, leading accompanist of the Mariinsky Opera Irina Soboleva highlighted the advantages of the troupe of the Primorsky Stage: youth, energy and robust ambition.
In the premiere performance, the Mariinsky Orchestra and the Chorus of the Primorsky Stage were involved; leader conductor Pavel Smelkov took the panel. During their work on the show, the directors tried to avoid clichés, those musical and semantic changes that have taken place in the opera over the long years of its stage life. "The Tsar’s Bride opera was tremendously popular both in the USSR and in contemporary Russia, but the musical material has taken a turn for the worse during this period. Our primary task was to return to the composer’s pace, that is, to make the opera the way he wanted to hear it, for the first time in the recent sixty performances of this opera”, Irina Soboleva noted.
The scenery and costumes produced in the workshops of the Mariinsky Theatre attracted the attention of the public even at the stage of rehearsals: the audience compared the production with the films in the style of fantasy. The producers noted that such parallels were not scaring them; on the contrary, they meant potential attraction of new audiences. “As for the scenic design and costumes, I wanted to convey the spirit of the era and to get rid of the unnecessary details that mean nothing both for our story and for the characters’ images. Our performance is not historically accurate, there’s place for stylization, fantasy. Therefore, I believe that the association with The Game of Thrones is very good”, said Pyotr Okunev, the author of the scenography and costumes.
The creation of a performance capable of capturing a modern spectator and of making them fall in love with opera became one of the goals of the directors working on the project. “In The Tsar’s Bride opera, there is everything: Russian lyricism, almost Wagnerian drama, the emerging symbolism. We have managed to brush away age-old dust from the images: there’s a passion in opera, a very bright human drama. We tried to make the history modern, congenial and understandable to us in terms of emotional, sensual content. It’s important that every spectator coming to see the play would find something of their own in it”.
Pavel Smelkov has emphasized the special significance of this particular opera by Rimsky-Korsakov taking its place in the repertoire of the Primorsky Stage: "The Tsar’s Bride opera, though cleared of any extrinsic features, still remains a Russian historical opera, and Vladivostok hasn’t seen such an opera before. There was a lot of Tchaikovsky, a lot of fabulous Rimsky-Korsakov, but this is a serious, terrible era. This opera will show the public new facets of the Russian opera repertoire”.
The premiere shows of The Tsar’s Bride opera will take place on the Primorsky Stage of the Mariinsky Theatre on September 14 and 15, 2018.