The opening of the Galina Vishnevskaya Opera Centre in Moscow in 2002 can justly be regarded as a unique event in the modern history of opera in Russia. Galina Vishnevskaya’s outstanding talent and wealth of experience served to guarantee the Centre’s high level of professionalism and its success as a new type of educational institution.
The Centre offers a course entitled ‘Operatic Artist’ to singers with professional training from both Russia and abroad. Many of its students already have experience from appearances in theaters and concert halls and at international competitions and festivals. The Centre prepares them to assume leading roles in the operatic repertoire. Working with them are leading specialists in voice training, as well as accompanists, conductors, stage directors and teachers of acting, dance and foreign languages of the highest professional caliber. The Centre’s founder and artistic director, Galina Vishnevskaya, shared her enormous wealth of experience with the students on a daily basis. The students have also had the opportunity to encounter and attend master classes with such leading lights of the operatic world as Mstislav Rostropovich, directors Boris Pokrovsky, Peter Stein and Tito Capobianco, conductors Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Muti and Eugene Kohn, singers Irina Bogacheva, Teresa Berganza, Mirella Freni, Placido Domingo, Mimi Coertse, Paata Burchuladze, Dennis O’Neill and Thomas Hampson and Mauro Trombetta, artistic director of the Opera di Roma. Following their studies at the Centre, many of its students have become soloists of Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater, Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Musical Theater, Novaya Opera and Helikon Opera, as well as of leading operatic theaters in such cities as St. Petersburg, Omsk, Yekaterinburg and others. Some have also represented the Russian school of opera in such renowned European companies as those of the Opera di Roma, the Opera National de Belgique in Brussels, the Opera Royal de Wallonie in Liege and the Stadtstheater in Bonn, as well as at the Salzburger Festspiele.
Within the past ten years of its existence the Opera Centre has gained a special place in the cultural landscape of Moscow and of Russia as a whole. Ten opera productions have been staged and numerous concerts highly appreciated by both audience and critics have been held since the Opera Centre opening. In May. 2011 ‘Boris Godunov’ opera by Modest Mussorgsky received its premiere at the Opera Centre and has become a meaningful event in Moscow music sphere.
Besides appearances on its own stage, the Centre’s operatic troupe has actively toured in Russia and abroad. In 2004, students of the Centre took part in the Year of Russian Culture in Germany, where they had the honor of appearing together with Maestro Mstislav Rostropovich and the Russian National Orchestra, and have also taken part in the Russian Festival in Rome (2004), the International Festival in Bloemfontein (South African Republic, 2005), ‘Golden Prague’ (2006), the May Opera Festival in Macedonia (2006), the Holland Festival (2006), the International Mstislav Rostropovich Festival in Baku (2007), the Festival of Russian Culture in Bulgaria (2008) and the Colmar Festival in France (2008); in Russia, in the ‘Panorama of Musical Theaters’ in Omsk and ‘Russian Music on the Baltic’ in Kaliningrad; in Ukraine, in ‘Sergei Rachmaninov and Ukrainian Culture’ in Kharkov; and in tours to numerous cities in Russia, as well as to Germany, Italy, France. Mexico, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Hungary. In the summer of 2010, soloists of the Centre triumphantly participated in Modest Mussorgsky’s ‘Boris Godunov’ in Liege, in a co-production of the Centre and the Opera Royal de Wallonie, which went on to be presented at the Festival of Santander in Spain.
In October 2010. within the framework of The Year of Russia in France, the Centre’s soloists, together with the Symphony Orchestra of the Paris Conservatory, presented a project, which had a great success, entitled ‘Unknown Shostakovich’, comprised of two of the great composer’s unfinished operas: ’The Gamblers’ (based on a play by Nikolai Gogol), and ‘The Great Lightning’ (Paris – Besancon – Moscow – Perm). Performances took place in Paris, at Cite de la Musique (October 16), Besancon (October 19), in Moscow, at Tchaikovsky Concert Hall (October 22), and Perm at Philharmonic Great Hall (October 24).
The Centre has successfully collaborated with such world-renowned institutions as the Arturo Toscanini Foundation in Parma, the Paris Conservatory, the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, the Academia alia Scala in Milan, Mirella Freni Belcanto Academy and the Center for Performance Art in Tampa, USA. One of the most important activities of the Centre has been the organization of international projects, among them: the Festival of Italian Culture in Russia, in 2003, the Russian Festival in Rome, in 2004, the Italian Season in Russia, in 2005, and tours in Russia by such renowned conductors as Zubin Mehta, Myung-Wung Chung and Riccardo Muti. In July 2011, Moscow hosted ‘Operalia’, the world opera competition, directed by Placido Domingo and organized by the Opera Centre from the Russian side. One of its most important projects has become the ‘Galina Vishnevskaya International Opera Singers Competition’, which will be held in Moscow in May-June 2014 for the fifth time, and Young Opera Singers Assemblies project, which included master-dasses and gala-concerts in collaboration with Placido Domingo’s Academy under LA Opera, Mirella Freni Belcanto Academy and JET youth program under Theater an der Wien (Austria).
The activity of the Centre could not, of course, be so intensive or multifaceted without broad-based support, in the first instance, from the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, the Government of the City of Moscow and the Moscow City Department of Culture.
The principal task of the Galina Vishnevskaya Opera Centre is to perpetuate Russia’s great operatic traditions and to cause Russian opera to be perceived anew.