Opera Centre’s new production of Aleko by Sergei Rachmaninoff (concert version) received it’s premiere on June 21 and 23. This is one of the early music pieces created by the great composer, however, it is not behind more mature works if compared by musical expression and complexity. Aleko seldom appears on posters of Russian opera theaters, thus, when performed, it inevitably becomes an event indeed.
This chamber lyrical and physiological opera full of tense dramatic action wins the audiences’ attention musical expression and with melody richness. Each of the parts created by Rachmaninoff is peculiar and unique, granting an opportunity to reveal the talent of every performer. The Centre’s soloists have managed to show the music wealth of the opera and the dramatic tense it bears. The main roles of Aleko and Zemfira were performed by Marat Mukhametzyanov and Nestan Meboniya (on June 21st) and by Farhad Zakhrutdinov and Ekaterina Yasinskaya (on June 23rd). Young gypsy is performed by Pavel Semagin, and an old man, Zemfira’s father, – by Alexey Tolstokorov. Accompanied by the Opera Centre’s Orchestra under the baton of Andrey Lebedev, the soloists have told a sharp love story of devastating passion and thirst for freedom – freedom at any cost.
With laconic scenic means the action has been moved to our time: images of metropolis, with endless traffic jams, and nature, in an unbroken calm watching the unfolding tragedy of two rebellious souls, change each other behind the artists’ backs. The soloists and the choir are dressed in modern costumes – thus creating the impression that the story of Aleko and Zemfira is happening here and now, right in front of the audience. Despite such modern reading, the production retains certain ethnic flavor of the narrative poem The Gypsies by Alexander Pushkin – a work that became the plot basis for the opera. A gypsy dance adds emphasis and intensity to the production: sensual and passionate, it seems to be a reflection of the gypsy soul – freedom-loving, unsubdued and rebellious.