On the 4th of March in the capital of the Republic of South Africa – Pretoria there opened I Festival of Russian Culture with the concerts of Galina Vishnevskaya Opera Centre’s soloists and Mstislav Rostropovich Foundation grant-holders. The festival was organised by Galina Vishnevskaya Opera Centre and Ministry for Culture of the Russian Federation, Ministries of Foreign affairs of both countries. The major events of the Festival took place in four largest cities of the Republic – Pretoria, Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town and were accompanied with a huge interest of the audience. Russian ballet is always a success in South Africa, this time soloists from Bolshoi, Mariinsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko theatres participated in the festival. Operatic and instrumental performances are a rare event in South Africa, that is why the organisers and participants were so excited, but the concerts of Galina Vishnevskaya’s students and Mstislav Rostropovich’s grant holders became the highlight of the project. The audience applauded to every performance on stage, and it was impossible to distinguish the best, so highly was every soloist appreciated. But for certain, from now on they will be anticipating to seeing Russian singers again in South Africa. We would like to congratulate soloists of the Galina Vishnevskaya Opera centre: N. Bobrova, O. Lesnichaya, A. Shakirova, A. Kasyanov, S. Plyusnin, K. Purilkin; Mstislav Rostropovich Foundation grant-holders: E. Nefedova, M. Gayduk, A. Kazaryan, N. Khozyainov!
According to Nezavisimaya Gazeta’s columnist G. Zaslavsky: «… Galina Vishnevskaya Opera centre soloists’ and Mstislav Rostropovich Foundation grant-holders’ concerts were a success in Pretoria, South Africa. After every performance the audience eagerly applauded and called for encores after “La Traviata”. I should admit that the level of Galina Vishnevskaya’s students does not deteriorate. I am saying this not to offend Lesnichaya, who is an earlier graduate, and who is invited to join the Centre’s tours again and again. But for South African audience, for example, Alina Shakirova was a revelation in her duet from «Carmen» with Alexander Kasyanov. Konstantin Purilkin, baritone (Rigoletto) along with the Foundation grant-holders equally impressed the musical fans.»