COLLIN BARRY, Associated Press
MILAN (AP) — Milan’s famed La Scala opera house on Monday announced a celebration of the gala premiere of the next season of the Russian opera Boris Godunov, a move it hopes will highlight the separation of culture from politics.
The La Scala calendar for 2022-2023, drawn up long before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, also includes many Russian stars playing roles in Boris Godunov, as well as other roles, including soprano Anna Netrebko in Macbeth.
“We hope that we will have a feast of St. Ambrose, which will also be dedicated to peace,” said Mayor Giuseppe Sala, president of the board of La Scala, calling Modest Mussorgsky’s opera “a masterpiece.”
He mentioned the feast day of the patron saint of Milan on December 7, when La Scala annually hosts a gala opening of the season, one of the most anticipated events on the European cultural calendar.
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La Scala General Manager Dominique Meyer stressed that the choice was made two or three years ago, in accordance with the accepted practice in the opera world of compiling calendars and booking stars for several years in advance.
The announcement of the rare Russian premiere comes just months after La Scala became one of the first opera houses to drop Russian conductor Valery Gergiev from an opera after he failed to respond to their call to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The opera house was quick to separate Gergiev from other Russian artists who will perform in Milan, noting that his position as general director and artistic director of the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg brings him closer to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“We considered him a politician. The rest, no. He is almost the minister of culture. This is a different case,” Meyer said.
“Boris Godunov”, which the program “La Scala” calls “a disturbing fresco about the cruelty and loneliness of power”, opened the 1979-80 season under the direction of Claudio Abbado.
Russian bass Ildar Abdrazakov, who sang at last year’s premiere, will sing the title role in Boris Godunov, while Russian tenor Dmitry Korchak will headline Czech composer Antonín Dvořák’s Rusalka, which will debut at La Scala.
Principal conductor and music director Riccardo Chailly, who attended the premiere of Boris Godunov in Abbado in 1979, said he had long insisted that more Russian music be on the La Scala calendar, which is historically heavy on the Italian repertoire as a major opera house at home. lyric theatre. Giuseppe Verdi is by far the composer most represented at the opening of the gala season on December 7th.
“It would be serious to punish the artistic aspect of the tragedy that we all know is happening in Ukraine,” Chaiyi said. “It seems to me necessary, in light of the fact that we have been living, unfortunately, for more than 90 days, (to say) that great music can live on its own, as it should.
“It is important to distinguish between these two things. Give credit to those who deserve it and bring masterpieces back to life, no matter what happens.”
There are 14 operas in the La Scala calendar, including Lucia di Lammermoor starring the American soprano Lisette Oropesa along with Juan Diego Flórez. The Donizetti Opera was supposed to open the 2020/21 season but has been postponed due to pandemic restrictions.
La Scala also repeats Umberto Giordano’s Andrea Chénier, which opened the 2017-2018 season by celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of the late director Franco Zeffirelli with a production of La bohème and the premiere of Leonardo Vinci’s Opera of Naples. Li Zite ‘Ngalera” as part of a project to relaunch opera in the Italian Baroque style.
Netrebko, who received rave reviews last week at La Scala, will sing four concertos from Verdi’s Macbeth, alternating with Belarusian mezzo-soprano Yekaterina Semenchuk.
The ballet season opens with Rudolf Nureyev’s choreography from The Nutcracker, timed to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the Russian dancer’s death. The program, which includes both classical and contemporary choreographies, contains another tribute to Nureyev, with his choreography for Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake.
The story is true that the composer Antonín Dvořák is a Czech, not a Russian.
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