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Sunday, March 18, 2018

In the Ekaterinburg Opera theatre staged “the Passenger” Weinberg

Premiere of the Opera Moses/Mieczyslaw Weinberg’s “the Passenger” was held in Ekaterinburg the Opera. This is Russia’s first staging of an outstanding musical score of “composer of the three peoples,” unjustly forgotten, but in the last decade, returning to the audience. Alas, posthumously: Weinberg, a Jew born in Poland, lived in USSR and died in Russia in 1996, did not live up to his triumphant comeback at the world music Olympus.

photo courtesy of the Ekaterinburg Opera theatre


The story “the Passenger from cabin 45” written by Polish writer Zofia Posmysz, at the age of 19 became the prisoner of Auschwitz. While in Paris, 15 years after the war, Zofia heard the speech of the German tourist, who reminded her of the voice esesovtsy-guards mocked her in a concentration camp. This was the impulse to create stories, plays and a screenplay about a chance meeting on an ocean liner the former prisoner of Auschwitz — Martha polka, and the former Nazi — German woman, Lisa Franz. And that former victims and former torturers does not happen: the past is always with us.


The novel, published in 1964, “Roman-Gazeta”, has attracted the attention of Alexander Medvedev, Deputy literary Manager of the Bolshoi theatre. His libretto 1968 Weinberg wrote his Opera on demand of Bolshoy theatre. However, the production is not reached: “the Passenger” with its abstract humanism and lack in the story “the leadership of the party” has not gone ideological “face-control”. Most likely, the so-called “fifth paragraph” of the author (recall that in the Soviet passport under this paragraph indicates the nationality) disappoint. Although the “Passenger” is not about the Holocaust: Auschwitz/Auschwitz was an international, universal hell, which killed Russians and poles, French and Czechs, military and civilian, men, women, children… It was a world tragedy and the world of crime. But because the main message of the Opera is formulated as a replica of the main character, drawn through time to her friends in the camp: “If you stall your voice, we will die”.


Legacy Weinberg immense: 22 symphonies, 17 quartets, 5 concerts, operas, operettas. His music is heard in the films “the cranes Fly”, “tiger girl”, “the Hyperboloid of engineer Garin”, a song from the film “the Last inch” do not be afraid to call a masterpiece, but chants and sopelki from the cartoon “Winnie the Pooh” singing each new generation of kids. Without going into musicological analyst, will say the main thing: the music of Weinberg is not invented, constructed a speculative model standards dictated by artificial notions of what should be the music of the twentieth century, and heard a talented composer ear is able to catch a space of audio broadcasting. So she’s alive and tonally distinct, defined genre, melodic and harmonious, despite the saturation characteristic of the language techniques and composition techniques of the last century, including dodecaphony and sonoristics. The secret is that these techniques are Weinberg needed not as an end in itself but as a means to transfer the image. But if he wants the Rumba or the waltz, an allusion to the March of Schubert or pseudostate of pre-war pop songs like “Domino”, austere Gregorian or polyphonic monody vertical of the Protestant chorale, he boldly uses all these colors in the score, without falling into eclecticism and polystylism.

photo courtesy of the Ekaterinburg Opera theatre


In Ekaterinburg the performance is made by the same team that produced the Opera “Satyagraha” last season: Director Tadeusz Strassberger and conductor Oliver von of Dohnanyi (which, by the way, the chief conductor of the Ekaterinburg Opera). For these Directors messageby cultural and social aspect of the play is no less important than artistic and technological. This unity is the key to a deliberate and calculated decision which works on the audience, despite the complexity and complete lack of based on the commercial success of the project. The music is complex, the plot is terrible. Despite his detektivnoi — until the very end we do not know whether the passenger of the 45 th cabins is the same of March, which is so dangerous to ex-esesovtsy and her successful husband-a diplomat — he still is not reducible to the genre of Thriller. The main theme is Auschwitz and the heroism, that all of his victims, broken and unbroken.

In play are a wonderful artist, each of which, regardless of the amount of the party clearly and concisely reveals his story: Katya (Olga Tenyakova), Russian partisan, depicting Russia in the stunning a Capella plangent song, Yvette (Natalia Mokeeva), touching to tears teenage girl from Dijon, Jewish Khan (Tatiana Nikanorova), Czech Bronka (Aleksandra Kulikova), polka Christine (Catherine Naimak). The plot — March a magnificent performance by Natalia Karlova. It combines the firmness and tenderness, pride and pain. No bombast — amazing accuracy, but it is quite the Opera the degree of generalization character.

And finally, Nadezhda Babintseva. The execution of its role, Lisa Franz reveals some new facet of the extraordinary talent of this singer. Beautiful monster — here is Lisa, who feels no remorse for their crimes. She wants to hear words of gratitude from his victim — and this is the height of cynicism and madness, which actually explains a lot about human nature, gave birth to fascism. The party Lisa is full of complex, rare for the operatic genre balancing between the vocals and the sort of sprechgesang. Babintseva masterfully switches from singing to speech, and in a purely conversational scenes demonstrates the talent and skill of the modern dramatic artist.

The orchestra plays the works of Weinberg with an absolute understanding of the author’s style and complex musical meanings. Dohnanyi pulls from the score everything that connects her with the traditional language: the modal gravity, melodic, consonant harmony, intonation with fixed semantics. The Opera is filled with bright recognizable themes that are beautiful and logical to build a musical drama with easily perceived by ear arches and motifs. And of course, allusions and quotations, which is very important. A particularly large fragment of the Chaconne by Bach, which the inmate Tadeusz (Dmitry Starodubov, vocals, Denis Antropov, violin) plays instead of the vulgar waltz, ordered by the camp commandant.

Summary and perspective.

Weinberg returned. His Opera “the Idiot” is already underway in St. Petersburg, and will soon be presented in a Large theater. “Passenger” put in Moscow “the New Opera”. You see, and the symphonies of this great composer will be to get in the repertoire of Symphony orchestras. And Mieczyslaw Weinberg will take its place among the outstanding composers of the twentieth century, which are not only interesting to explore, but you need to listen to.


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