24 ARTS&ENTERTAINMENT S U N D A Y, S E P T E M B E R 2 , 2 0 1 2 T H E J E R U S A L E M P O S T 24 ARTS&ENTERTAINMENT SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 2, 2 0 1 2 T H E , JERUSALEM POST COMIC RELIEF: ‘To me, there is nothing like it... nothing quite like a stand-up comic who is there because he really wants to be there. And that’s what I am about. It’s really all I do,’ says Seinfeld. (John Gress/Reuters) OPERA FESTIVAL REVIEW • By IRVING SPITZ The ballroom scene in Tchaikovsky’s ‘Eugene Onegin’ White Nights (Nikolay Krusser) Saint Petersburg May to July F rom May to July, St. Petersburg’s Mari- insky Opera hosts the White Nights Festival. One of the most impressive performances that I attended was Mus- sorgsky’s opera Khovanshchina, and the most imposing soloist was baritone Nikolai Putilin, who took on the daunting role of the Boyar Shaklovity. With his powerful voice and imposing stage presence, he brought out the dynamism of the role. This was a performance to cherish. Another exciting voice in Khovanshchina was that of great Russian tenor Vladimir Galuzin as Prince Vasily Khovansky. Bass Ildar Abdrazakov was most convincing in the chal- lenging role of the priest, Dosifei, who unsuc- cessfully tried to negotiate peace between the opposing parties and, in the end, under- went immolation with the other Old Believ- ers. This particular performance marked the jubilees of mezzo-soprano Larisa Diadkova Viktoria Yastrebova as Violetta in and bass Sergei Aleksashkin. Diadkiva was an ‘La Traviata’ (Natasha Razina) impressive and impassioned Marfa. In Borodin’s opera Prince Igor, pride of es was the brilliant Mariinsky choir directed place again went to Nikolai Putilin, who by Andrei Petrenko. Especially notable were took on the title role. His monologue, its magnificent bass and baritone sections. when bemoaning the fate of Russia, the The other main operatic venue of St. capture of his army and the subjugation Petersburg is the Mikhailovsky Theater, of his country by the Tartars, was one of which also has an illustrious history and was the great moments in the performance. only secondary to the unfolding drama. Act 2 produced some of the greatest impressive was the Amonastro of baritone the site of several notable premieres. I Here was this consummate artist notch- The other stand-out in the perform- singing of the night. Vladislav Sulimsky. attended a performance of Tchaikovsky’s ing up another triumph only three days ance was Vladimir Vaneyev as the ungra- All the above productions were classical. What was missing, however, in both Alfre- Eugene Onegin. Stanislav Gaudasinsky’s stag- after his unforgettable performance in cious brother of Igor’s wife, who tried to There was none of the avant-garde cur- do in La Traviata and Ramades in Aida was ing was classical, but the penultimate ball Khovanshchina. mount an insurrection to overthrow his rently prevalent in Europe. One exception the passionate lyric Italianate tenor sound. scene made spectacular use of chandeliers Tenor Yevgeny Akimov was very credible brother-in-law. was the scintillating new production of The Mariinsky orchestra was at its best with and draping curtains. Boris Pinkhasovich in as Igor’s son in this relatively small role. In La Traviata, Viktoria Yastrebova’s Vio- Aida at the Mariinsky Concert Hall. Here, Valery Gergiev in Khovanshchina. Equally the role of Onegin was the real stand-out. But his love scene with the Khan’s daugh- letta was a real tour de force. She por- director Daniele Finzi Pasca pulled out all stirring and dramatic was the Aida led by Tatiana Ryaguzova as Tatiana delivered a dra- ter was a very tame affair, devoid of pas- trayed the tragic role of the doomed cour- the stops to give a modern, innovative Andrei Petrenko. In Prince Igor, the orches- matic, impassioned letter scene, with lovely sion – unlike the fiery tempestuous liaisons tesan to perfection. She successfully float- and riveting production. Towering above tral accompaniment under Pavel Smelkov woodwind and brass orchestral accompani- of Verdi’s and Puccini’s lovers. In Italian ed her high notes but also exerted won- the stage were glass pillars that changed was not as disciplined as when Gergiev was ment. However, in the more fortissimos pas- and French operas based on historical derful control in the pianissimo passages. colors. These descended in the final prison in the pit. Nevertheless, in all the operas, sages, she tended to force her voice. The themes, interpersonal relationships are This is a major voice to be reckoned with. scene to mimic the incarceration of Aida including La Traviata, the orchestral per- sonorous bass Andrey Gonyukov as Prince paramount; in Russian operas of this Equally exciting was baritone Vasily Gerello and Ramades. This opera also featured formance was of a very high standard. Gremin did a sterling job in extolling genre, however, these relationships are as Giorgio Germont. Their interaction in Mariinsky principal singers. The most Perhaps the real star in all the performanc- Tatiana’s virtues in his one great aria.