Большой театр Беларуси


Большой театр Беларуси


25 January 19:00

Richard Wagner

Der fliegende Holländer

opera in three acts

Большой театр Беларуси



Premiere of Salome

For more than a hundred years, Richard Strauss’ opera has haunted directors and artists who try to answer the questions hidden in Salome. Was Salome the haughty daughter of an immoral Queen, the embodiment of moral degradation, or an innocent child who became a victim of a terrible vicious environment, a victim of parental loveless, hostage of human callousness? What is the “Dance of the Seven Veils” and why does the encounter of Salome and Jochanaan lead to disaster?

The Belarusian Bolshoi had never dealt with staging a biblical story.

‘Some air of scandalousness has accompanied this work from the appearance of its literary source, Oscar Wilde’s drama of the same title, onwards,’ says Mikhail Pandzhavidze. ‘When working on the opera, a number of creators had a desire to exploit its outrageous aspects, which can be found in any material, as experience shows, and in Salome all the more so. And this does happen. I am deeply convinced that this piece unrightly enjoys such fame. It is not about the vile qualities inherent in man. Quite on the contrary, it deals with the strength of the spirit, through which a person, professing Christian dogmas of morality, can remain a man. This story is more hot-button and topical than ever before. We cannot ignore what is happening in the world, and we must respond by expressing our point of view. And what is being done around resembles more and more the whole story of the Fall. The so-called struggle for human rights, tolerance and distorted religious consciousness, especially in Europe, frighten and worry me. It seems to me that in the form it exists Western civilization is rapidly moving towards its own doom. I hope the story of Salome will make us think where we are going.’

The format of the production promises to be quite unusual. It’s referred to as “an opera with a choreographic prologue.” ‘Unlike other productions, ours has a backstory,’ continues Mikhail. ‘To Richard Strauss’ symphonic poem Also sprach Zarathustra dancers will tell the story of Jochanaan (John the Baptist). His ascetic life, wandering in the desert, visions and prophecies, purification from sins in the waters of Jordan, Christ’s baptism... And then a time leap will take place: Salome’s story, the story of our days will begin, and we will see modern society and what Western Christianity has come to. A ship of vices will appear onstage.’

‘The ship of sins is the ship of Herodes. The black silhouette of the vessel will very much resemble the yacht of an oligarch, who often buy former coast guard ships where they spend their days idly,’ Mikhail Pandzhavidze explains. ‘Through the eyes of Jochanaan, whose appearance does not change, we will see quite strange people. It’s they who will symbolize modern civilization, a luxurious but vicious society. It is here that the action will unfold, and very quickly: the arrest of Jochanaan made by Herodes, Jochanaan’s conversation with Salome (when she declares her love to him, and he is horrified, because he has just uttered words of a sermon!), the voluptuous “Dance of the Seven Veils” and Salome’s demand that the Baptist be executed... So the finale is more than justified: the vicious society has crossed the line that must not be crossed. Therefore, the ship of vices disappears in the sand.’

For any serious theatre, staging Salome is a kind of challenge. But Mikhail Pandzhavidze with his team is not in the least disingenuous when saying that the Belarusian Bolshoi is ready for such innovative productions. The creative team is preparing a beautiful, large-scale production, which our theatre can be proud of.

We just want to add that the team working on the production includes:

Musical director    Honoured Artist of Ukraine Viktor Ploskina
Director        recipient of the Francysk Skaryna Medal Mikhail Pandzhavidze
Set and costume designer, author of video design concept    Garri Gummel (Russia)
Choreographers    People’s Artist of Belarus Kanstantsin Kuzniatsou, Honoured Artist of the Republic of Belarus Yuliya Dziatko
Video designer    Pavel Suvorov (Russia)
Lighting designer    Sergey Shevchenko (Russia)
Leading opera soloists and dancers of the Bolshoi Theatre of Belarus

The performance will premiere on 18, 19 and 20 October 2018.