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A match made in music

Mariinsky maestro Valery Gergiev and composer Rodion Shchedrin are becoming closer collaborators than ever before.

Published: October 31, 2008 (Issue # 1421)

  • Valery Gergiev (l) and Rodion Shchedrin (r) reviewing a score at the Mariinsky Concert Hall.

Rodion Shchedrin, one of the most acclaimed Russian composers, is obviously winning the heart of Valery Gergiev, the artistic director of the Mariinsky Theater.

The Second New Horizons festival opened Thursday with a performance by the Mariinsky Symphony Orchestra of the second act of Shchedrins opera Lolita (as well as Olivier Messiaens LAscention and Pierre Boulezs Four Notations) conducted by Gergiev.

For Shchedrin, the plot of Lolita, Vladimir Nabokovs 1955 tragicomic novel, is a wonderful thriller begging to be transformed into an opera.

Some years ago I was approached by French managers and asked to compose an opera set to a Russian novel for the then newly inaugurated Opera Bastille, Shchedrin recalls. [The late cellist] Mstislav Rostropovich was invited to be the musical director of the production. This Nabokov novel has tangible allusions with the story lines of Carmen.

Shchedrins Carmen-Suite is arguably Shchedrins greatest success and most frequently performed work, so he was keen to develop similar themes.

The composer perceives Nabokovs novel, in which a middle-aged man, Humbert Humbert, connives to kidnap and sexually abuse Lolita, a 12-year-old girl, as a story of stolen beauty.

It feels like a nostalgia for beauty; it is a symbol, really, Shchedrin said. For me personally, Lolita as a character is less of a human being but rather an archetype, a symbol of beauty but a fleeting beauty.

While no specific plans to produce a full stage rendition of Lolita have yet been voiced, Gergiev announced that other works by Shchedrin are on their way into the Mariinskys repertoire.

Speaking to reporters earlier this month, Gergiev sounded enthusiastic when unveiling plans to rehearse Shchedrins opera Dead Souls and stage the composers ballet The Little Humpbacked Horse.

The ballet looks set to premiere during the current season and be choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky, formerly the artistic director of the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow and now with the New York City Ballet. Gergiev said he has already secured an agreement with Yury Temirkanov, the artistic director of Shostakovich Philharmonic, to conduct Dead Souls.

Gergiev devotes special attention to contemporary music and is especially interested in the works of living composers. His recent presentations to St. Petersburg audiences have included, in addition to Shchedrins opera, Thomas Ades Powder Her Face and a series of symphonic pieces and concertos by Henri Dutilleux.

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Friday, Dec. 19

Test your mastery of parlor games during Game Evening at the British Book Center. Learn how to play a variety of classic, mentally challenging games and use your newly acquired skills to crush weaker opponents. The event beings at 5 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 20

The citys Babushkina Park on Prospekt Obukhovskoy Oborony will be invaded by dozens of rocking-and-rolling Santa Clauses during todays Santa Claus Parade. Not only will they parade through the park but there will also be competitions amongst the festively-clad participants and a musical master class. There will also be a prize for the best-dressed Santa Claus.

Stock up your record collection during the Vinyl Christmas Sale at the KL10TCH bar on Konyushennaya ploschad today. Spend the afternoon perusing the records for sale while listening the classic, clean sound of records spinning out hits from a variety of musical genres and time periods.

Sunday, Dec. 21

The Zenit St. Petersburg basketball team returns to the northern capital this evening for a matchup with Krasny Oktyabr, a Volgograd-based basketball club. Tickets for the game, which tips off at 6 p.m. this evening, can be purchased on the clubs website or at their arena, Sibur Arena, on Krestovsky island.

Satisfy your sugar cravings during Sweet New Year, an ongoing seasonal festival at the Raduga shopping center. Each weekend of December will welcome hungry visitors to taste hundreds of different kinds of desserts made from a plethora of sweet treats. Workshops are open to visitors and seasonal gifts can also be purchased for those rushing to finish their New Year shopping.

Monday, Dec. 22

Pick out the latest fashions as holiday gifts for loved ones or as early presents for yourself during the Christmas Design Sale at Kraft on Obvodny Kanal, starting on Dec. 20 and continuing through Dec. 27. Designer clothes will be on sale every day of the week or you can buy something more festive to decorate the home while sipping on hot coffee and perusing the various master classes.

Tuesday, Dec. 23

Meet Arctic explorers Fedor Konukhov and Viktor Simonov during SPIBAs and Capital Legal Services event Arctic Expedition this morning in the Mertens House business center at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. The meeting will discuss the explorers ongoing eco-social project and how companies can use the project as a unique marketing opportunity. Email by Dec. 22 if you wish to attend.

Wednesday, Dec. 24

The Anglican Church of St. Petersburg we will be holding a Christmas Eve service at 7 p.m. led by Rev Wm. Shepley Curtis of the Episcopal Church. The service will be held at the Swedish Church at 1/3 Malaya Konyushennaya Ulitsa.

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