In December, traditionally, the long-awaited Abyazov Fest will take place, against all odds. Rustem Abyazov, the art director of the orchestra La Primavera, is the only one who can make the Nutcracker into an opera and play ballet with puppets. The correspondent of the portal “Vverh (Up)” found out what other surprises await the audience at the music forum, and why not all performances will be held at the usual stage for musicians.
Puppets for the orchestra
The idea to reformat “Shurale” originally originated with Rustem Abyazov. Whenever “Abyazov-fest” ends, the maestro wonders how else he could surprise the audience by mixing seemingly unrelated ingredients into one cocktail. Fortunately, he has two years to work on the next festival. The main thing, according to the conductor, is to come up with a concept, a common theme, based on which you can create. That's how it worked this time as well. The theme was chosen as “Fairy tales, myths, and legends in a musical representation”. And after that, “inventions” came out in hundreds. The festival has always been distinguished by the synthesis of different kinds of art.
“At first I had the idea to play the suite by Farid Yarullin, - says Rustem Abyazov. - I think I gave the composer all the debts I had to him as his fan. I noticed there was no suite from the ballet Shurale. I wanted this music to live separately, on the symphonic stage. I edited it, did the orchestration, added lots of percussion instruments, and showed it to Raufal Mukhametzyanov, the director of the opera house. He suggested that I rearrange the whole ballet in a symphonic mode.”
However, Abyazov could not play this work with his chamber orchestra. And then the idea of performing it at the festival came to his mind.
"If my musicians come out and just play the music by Farid Yarullin, it will be beautiful, but not exciting, - recalls the maestro. - I wanted this composition to be given a new look. That's when I had the idea to turn to Ilgiz Zainiev, who had just become the director of the Ekiyat Puppet Theatre. I asked him if he would like to try staging something to this music.”
Admittedly, Zainiev was surprised by such an offer. However, he did not refuse the opportunity to experiment. Moreover, Abyazov had already recorded a soundtrack with the symphony orchestra of the Musa Dzhalil Tatar State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater and provided the piece, giving full carte blanche to the director. He had a year and a half to experiment.
“I studied the videos of the ballet, the history of the production, the legend itself - everything connected with Shurale. And it seemed to me that just dancing a ballet with puppets to this great work would not be interesting. It would be hard for the audience to watch it till the end. So I started digging into the story. Who Shurale is, and why it's the only Tatar ballet that has become world-famous. We started composing a libretto, and in a way, we ended up with a cultural piece about how Shurale preserves Tatar culture and waits for the beautiful Suyumbike to come.”
Originally Ilgiz Zainiev had the image that the ballet Shurale lies in a box on a far dusty shelf in the attic. And it symbolizes real Tatar culture, which is not used much in modern life. From time to time, unrelated fragments of the ballet are pulled from this dusty shelf and shown to the audience. But over time, the director, along with the actors, decided to move away from this sad concept and to give the play hope that Tatar culture will soon rise to prominence.
But this was not the end of the experiments. The director decided to go all the way and called in Ildus Gabdrakhmanov, an actor from the Kamalov Theater, and Salima Aminova, a choreographer, to help. That is, in addition to the puppet show, the audience will also see the interweaving of dance performances.
“When we started working on the performance, I was attached to the history of classical ballet, - says Sergey Ryabinin, the performance designer. - Images of the 1945 production and other interpretations flashed through my mind. I was going around old molds. But the director strongly advised me to get rid of them, because it would be a completely different work, a completely different story. And when the libretto was written, I realized that Shurale was a character who had somehow got into our day and existed alongside us as an ordinary person. I was curious and got hooked on this story, and it was only then that artistic images and various technical discoveries began to emerge. And now I still wonder that the story is completely unconnected to the classical plot of the ballet and the usual Shurale story in general. The story is much kinder, more interesting, and dramatic.”
The creators of the new product believe that the great works are so great that even after many years they can play with new colors in the hands of modern filmmakers who bring something of their own to their content.
The most difficult thing about this project is the lack of time. According to Ilgiz Zainiev, the pandemic has messed up everything, and now both the workshops and the actors are working with a busy schedule. For example, there were more performances this autumn than last year. And over four months, “Shurale” will be the theater's sixth premiere. And that's not even counting the new New Year's fairy tale. Tickets for the holiday performances went on sale on the 26th, and only on the first day about 60 percent were sold, which is about 10 thousand “passes”.
“Of course, the coronavirus gives a certain uneasiness, - says the director. - As a director, I have to start every morning, not with the theatrical bustle, but to find out if anyone got ill. It was especially hard in the autumn - a lot of our people got ill, to tell you the truth. The personnel in all theaters got ill. But we changed actors in time, not a single performance was postponed.”
“Shurale” will most likely be staged in January. Now preparations are in full swing for the December 7 premiere at the Saydashev State Concert Hall. This is not an easy task for the puppeteers, as the stage in the concert hall is poorly adapted for puppets. There is no necessary theatrical equipment, and there are certain difficulties with lighting. For example, while in classical performances the light in the hall and on the stage is dimmed as much as possible, and spotlights are used to enhance the narration, it is not possible to dim the lights in the Great Concert Hall, because the musicians must somehow look at the notes. The stage will eventually be divided into two parts. In one part there will be the orchestra and the other part gives place to the tale. Judging by the rehearsal, the performance is indeed expected to be spectacular.
“We agreed that after the festival when the premiere takes place at the Puppet Theater, we could “barter” and come to the performance with the orchestra and once again play the play along with the actors, - says Rustem Abyazov. - But only if we figure out where we could place the musicians on that stage.”
“The Nutcracker” as you haven't seen it yet.
That won't be the only surprise on the opening day of Abyazov Fest, however. First, the legendary Tuva group HUUN-HUUR-Tu will perform with a solo set for the audience, and one of the best psaltery players of Russia Gudimir will be on the stage.
The second day of the festival will take place exactly one week later, on December 14. The audience will be treated to a surprise premiere. This is a one-act mono-opera “The Nutcracker” - for soprano and chamber orchestra - with the participation of Alina Sharipzhanova.
“These melodies are familiar and loved by many since childhood, so they will be performed without any changes. The only thing - they will be orchestrated under La Primavera, - says the maestro. - Again, it's not interesting to just play the music. That's why I asked the poet Albina Absalyamova for help in writing the libretto for this opera. And Alina Sharipzhanova gladly agreed to perform the vocal part. Rehearsals are now in full swing.”
The plot of the opera is based on the story when a woman remembers going to the ballet “The Nutcracker” as a child. And the child's mind was so impressed by what she saw that the girl dreams at night that she is a character inside the fairy tale...
All of this will take place together with another performance. That evening the stage will be taken by the magnificent Moscow ensemble of Dmitry Pokrovsky, with whom the orchestra will perform a musical composition by Alexei Shelygin “The Tale of Igor's Campaign”. The arrangement for the chamber orchestra was made specifically for the “Abyazov Festival”. That is to say, a Russian spirit with a German infiltration, if anything remains of Hoffmann's tale after its interpretation.
The “Abyazov-fest” will finish in a month, on January 28. The famous ballet “Apollo Musaget” by Igor Stravinsky's production will be shown in Kazan for the first time. Accompanied by the chamber orchestra, the equally chamber ballet “Panther” under the direction of Nail Ibragimov will take to the stage. Such an experiment will also be carried out in Kazan for the first time. Once again, the coronavirus was involved.
Since it is not possible to dance on the stage of the State Concert Hall where there is also the orchestra, they wanted to postpone the performance until late December at the Saydashev Recreation Center, where “Pantera” is based. But here is a problem. Because of the epidemic, the concerts at the municipal recreation centers were banned and there are only different clubs there now. That's why the premiere will take place in January if everything goes well.
By the way, the orchestra's festival life has already suffered because of the pandemic. The L'arte del arco festival was supposed to take place in spring. But in fact, only the opening day of the music forum took place, and after that, all concert venues in Tatarstan, as well as throughout Russia, were closed because of the coronavirus. But Abyazov continues to believe in the future. He doesn't even mind that today the capacity of the halls may not exceed 50 percent, as the festival is supported by the Ministry of Culture and the Government of Tatarstan.
Another thing is if, there will a decree, because of Covid restrictions, that the hall should fill no more than 25 percent. In that case, it would be a pity for Abyazov to hold his festival for such a small audience. It should be noted that audiences have been actively visiting such performances lately. The orchestra La Primavera, unlike some of its colleagues, does not go to various tricks to fill the hall to capacity in such difficult epidemiological conditions. In the Great Concert Hall everything goes by law, not more than half the hall should be filled. And tickets to the program “Our music from “not our” cinema” ran out rather quickly at the box office. Not everyone will be able to get to this performance. So given how many original premieres are expected, you need to hurry up with your ticket purchase...