Mozart per sempre: Le nozze di Figaro now coming to Bolshoi!


Le nozze di Figaro has been triumphantly conquering opera houses all over the world right from the moment it was created, yet the Bolshoi Theatre resisted its charm for far too long — it is unbelievable and almost unforgivable, that it only opened here in 1926! This first production was directed by Andrey Petrovsky and conducted by maestro Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov. After that there were three other productions, the longest-running of them being the one by Boris Pokrovsky: 291 performances over the span of more than 20 years (1956-1978).

year saw a semi-staged production by William Lacey and Dmitry Belyanushkin, which was a great success with Moscow and St. Petersburg audiences and repeated that success this year with the audience of Norway.

The new production of Le nozze di Figaro is directed by a prominent drama director Evgeny Pisarev, who is well acquainted with the title character: last season he staged Beaumarchais’s The Marriage of Figaro at his Pushkin Drama Theatre, and this elegant and nimble production became a real hit. But Pisarev’s work for Bolshoi will only be his second encounter with opera, and though he has a lot to tell about this story, there is a challenge of minding the singing part.

Valery Gilmanov, Evgeny Pisarev, Konstantin Shushakov. Photo by Damir Yusupov

How to combine an opera and a drama in one production? What is the connection between the stage and the French movies? Let’s give the floor to Evgeny Pisarev.

‘My aim was to highlight the festive spirit of this opera. We transposed it to a nominal mid-20th century: 50s, 60s or 70s, a post-war period full of rejoicing, celebration and love of life. Our production is all about love, of course. Everyone here is in love, and though no one is faithful, it is not at all distressing — it is inspired by that joy in the air. And no one can keep their feelings under control, for there is too much hormones in them, too much drive, too much yearning for happiness. I think that’s what you may call a Mozartian atmosphere.

‘The beauty of Le nozze di Figaro lies in its description of different kinds of love and different stages in a couple’s relationship. Figaro and Susanna, our principal characters, are a pair of lovers who are forging their happiness out of jokes and pranks, by hook or by crook. As a matter of fact, they are walking a tightrope, but they are ready to risk for the sake of a happy future together.

‘The story shows us another type of couple as well, not the one on the verge of happiness, but the one well past it. In Il barbiere di Siviglia the Count was unrelenting in his conquest of Rosina’s heart, but she went a long way since then, and in Act I of Le nozze di Figaro the Countess is completely lost, taken aback by such an unfavourable turn of events.

‘And take Bartolo and Marcellina — two people living neither with or without each other until they find their son; then they see one another with a different eye and probably catch a glimpse of happiness at hand. There is yet another couple, a juvenile one: Cherubino and Barbarina. A complicated couple, as it turns out. Barbarina would probably prefer to be Susanna. She trumpets out loud what Susanna wants to leave silent, as though she wants to invite the Count to act. And she uses Cherubino in the game she plays. Barbarina will gain from Figaro’s marriage to Susanna, for then the Count might turn his eye on her. And if he does, the story will repeat itself, just as joyfully as before.

‘Unlike other characters of the opera, don Basilio is single. He is a symbolic figure, an anti-Figaro — a person deprived of any virtue. He has no notion of dignity and honour, he loses everything that is left of him and by the finale he is collapsed. He is single because he doesn’t deserve a partner.

‘In our production we tried to avoid the kitchen sink without making the characters unrealistic. Drinking tea or brushing one’s teeth on stage does not necessarily make a production vulgar. Take The Young Girls of Rochefort, or The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, or other mid-20th century movies of the genre: they all are spectacular, and the characters are very realistic, but there is no pure realism in these movies. Their style and form rise above the reality.

‘Much effort has been recently to strip Le nozze di Figaro from all things lyrical, so much so that the time has come eventually to bring the lyricism back. Paradoxically enough, it is Beaumarchais who can assist us in this quest.’

Anna Aglatova, Evgeny Pisarev, Anna Kraynikova. Photo by Damir Yusupov

Evgeny Pisarev’s creative team includes his trusted workmates such as set designer Zinovy Margolin and costume designer Victoria Sevryukova. Albert Alberts, a well-known contemporary dance choreographer, is responsible for the dancing part. Lights are designed by Damir Ismagilov.

The production which features mostly emerging singers will be conducted by maestro William Lacey.

The premiere run will take place on the New Stage on 25, 26, 28, 29 and 30 April and 24, 25 and 26 June 2015.