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Unexposed genius

Musicians will gather this week to remember the late Zoopark singer Mike Naumenko.

Published: April 18, 2012 (Issue # 1704)



  • Zoopark frontman Mikhail Naumenko died in 1991 at the age of 36.
    Photo: FOR SPT

Legendary local rock musician and Zoopark frontman Mikhail “Mike” Naumenko, who died at the age of 36 in 1991, will be remembered at a memorial birthday event at Dada club this week.

“Unlike [Kino leader] Viktor Tsoi, who became a real national hero through his purposeful activities, Mike, in my view, remained an unexposed genius,” said the event’s organizer Alexander Donskich von Romanov, a friend of Naumenko and former member of Zoopark.

“On the one hand, his work, strangely enough, initiated a wave of creative reaction all across Russia — in the provinces and far-off areas, in the Urals, Siberia, the south, east, west and north. But on the other hand, Mike never did anything to promote himself; essentially, the only thing he did was his creative work.

“By and large, he remains underestimated — in the sense of the degree of recognition [he gets]. But to any person who knows all the realities of Russian rock music, it’s obvious that unlike his talented contemporaries like [Akvarium’s Boris] Grebenshchikov and [Mashina Vremeni’s] Andrei Makarevich, it was him who created a revolution — a revolution in the world of Russian rock.”

Donskich von Romanov compared Naumenko to the late Soviet iconoclastic singer-songwriter and actor Vladimir Vysotsky, admitting however that neither Naumenko nor his rock musician friends were fans of the singer.

“Just like Vysotsky, many songs by Mike are dramas; they have a character that are not identical to their author, and the characters are different and sometimes walk from one song to another, like Sweet N., Venichka or Vera. But drama is always present in the song; there’s often a system of interaction and dramatic conflict in it. This is what led me to at one point create an opera based on Mike’s lyrics.”

Excerpts from the opera — called “Prizraki Goroda N” (The Ghosts of the Town of N) — premiered at St. Petersburg’s Gigant Hall in April 2011. Donskich von Romanov defined the genre as “blues opera.”

“The word ‘blues’ embodies a certain sadness. As [artist and filmmaker] Viktor Tikhomirov put it, ‘There’s always a sadness about a life that was not lived in Mike’s songs.’ About a life that he could have lived, but didn’t.”

Although influenced lyrically by the likes of the Rolling Stones, Lou Reed, T. Rex and Bob Dylan, Naumenko rethought the original subjects, placing his songs’ subjects and characters in the realities of the Leningrad of his day.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Monday, Jan. 26


Feeling stressed by the crisis? The Northwest Coach University at 3 Ulitsa Vostsstanaya is hosting a master class by lifecoach Tatiana Almazova. She will shed light on the coaching process, the usefulness of coaching during times of economic downturn and how coaching can improve your career and business prospects. The event starts at 7 p.m. and admission is free. Pre-register by calling 424 3700.



Discover the State Hermitage Museum's collection of English painting at a lecture by art historian Yelizaveta Renne at the Prince Galitzine Library, 46 Nab. Reki Fontanki. The event starts at 6 p.m. and the lecture will be followed by a concert of arias, songs and duets by English composer Henry Purcell. The event is free of charge.



Tuesday, Jan. 27


Celebrate the 71st anniversary of the end of the Siege of Leningrad on Palace Square with a free concert at 7 p.m. Listen to WWII-era songs and the poetry of Olga Bergholz while you peruse outdoor exhibitions dedicated to life during wartime. The event is capped off by a fireworks display at 9 p.m.



Stop by the Lexica School of Foreign Languages at 73 Ligovsky Prospekt from now until Friday for a free English lesson. The classes start at 7 p.m. and cover all levels, from Beginner to Advanced. Registration by telephone on 7641692 and a desire to improve your skills are the only prerequisites.



Wednesday, Jan. 28



Feel like becoming a publishing mogul? Stop by the Freedom anti-cafe at 7 Ulitsa Kazanskaya today at 8 p.m. where Simferopol, Crimea-based founder and chief editor of the Holst online magazine will talk about creating an internet magaine, including what stories to cover, how find an audience and build a team, where to find inspiration and how to stand out from the crowd. Admission is the normal price of the anti-café — 2 rubles per minute, which includes tea and snacks.



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