While passions were in full swing around the Bolshoi Theater, newspapers vied with each other about personnel policies and crazy queues for tickets to The Nutcracker, the creative body of the country's main opera house lived its own life, demonstrating that art is above vulgar vanity and glamorous ambitions. And he gave a wonderful premiere on the Historical Stage - the opera “Adriana Lecouvreur” staged by conductor Artem Abashev, director Evgeny Pisarev, artists Zinovy Margolin (set design), Victoria Sevryukova (costumes), Damir Ismagilov (lighting), with plastic art by Alberts Alberts and choreography by Alexandra Konnikova . Each of the directors deserves mention, as the performance turned out to be exemplary in terms of the organic combination of all its elements.
Written at the very beginning of the twentieth century, Adriana Lecouvreur is one of the operas that have not been performed in Russia. Its author, Italian Francesco Cilea, belongs to the so-called verists - along with Leoncavallo, Mascagni, Giordano and Puccini (although the latter, in his greatness and genius, hardly fits into any stylistic framework). The fact that “Adriana” is rarely staged is at least a big mistake: the music is stunningly beautiful, the musical dramaturgy is harmonious, and only the confusing plot is somewhat annoying in its inarticulateness. However, this is not the first time this has happened in the opera genre - just remember the anecdote about the plot of Verdi’s “Il Trovatore”, for the retelling of which a bottle of champagne was promised that has not yet been awarded.
The fact that this masterpiece was staged at the Bolshoi Theater is already remarkable. The fact that it received such a high-quality musical and directorial embodiment is doubly remarkable. The main character of the opera is an actress. Really existed, played in the Comedy Française, great, unattainable, tragic, pathetic. Dramatic! This is important, since the score contains the heroine’s dramatic monologues. The young singer Svetlana Lachina not only coped with the difficult task of combining vocals (the part is extremely complex) with pathetic melodic declamation in the spirit of Moliere's theater, but offered her own interpretation of the image. There is no heaviness or monumentality in her Adriana; instead, there is grace, lightness, and spontaneity. Lachina gives the audience the opportunity to enjoy the sound of her beautiful voice and at the same time empathize with the heroine as a living, real woman who has become a victim of the jealousy and hatred of another woman. This other one, Princess de Bouillon, played by Agunda Kulaeva, is majestic, arrogant, and unforgiving of insults. Kulaeva’s voluminous, deep mezzo fascinates with the beauty of its timbre, dark colors, and richness of overtones.
The men's parts were sung no less impressively. Maurice of Saxony, played by Oleg Dolgov, is a real tenor hero, both lover and warrior, who very funny talks about his victories over the Russian army. Maurice of Saxony is also a historical character, famous for his brilliant successes in military campaigns and his extreme love of love. So it is quite possible to consider “Adriana” not only a lyrical, but also a historical opera.
And, of course, last but not least, Vladislav Sulimsky in the role of Michonnet is the star of the Mariinsky Theater, one of those few opera soloists who are specially attended and even traveled to another city. Everything is gathered here: a beautiful baritone, texture, dramatic acting, charm. The result is a soul-penetrating image of a man’s true love for a woman, who does not demand anything, does not pretend to anything. This is love - service, the highest form of manifestation of feelings.
The role of the orchestra in this opera is enormous. Essentially, Cilea's score is a symphony in which human voices are integrated. Each part is imbued with melody, there are many solo timbres, the movement practically does not stop. Breathing, rhythm, pulse - all this is permanent, and even pauses are not stops, but elements of continuous through development. The orchestra under the direction of Artem Abashev perfectly understands this task and implements it with inspiration, forming a harmonious whole with the soloists.
Evgeny Pisarev found a grandiose conceptual move for the director's decision of "Adriana". Unlike many modern directors who try to “lower” opera to the everyday level, to “bring closer” the divine genre to a series for housewives, Pisarev does exactly the opposite: the director raises the figurative structure of this plot even higher. And the result is a paradoxical artistic effect: emphatically conventional, purely theatrical operatic passions turn out to be absolutely understandable and “catchy” at the simplest human level.
Adriana's world is theater. And this is exactly how Zinovy Margolin builds space - breathing, free, non-vain. Boxes, a curtain, an exquisite combination of colors, crystal chandeliers, a white rotunda of incredible beauty - all this is located in classicist proportions, without cluttering the stage, evoking associations with Versailles or St. Petersburg parks and palaces. Victoria Sevryukova’s costumes are equally luxuriously designed, gracefully and very theatrically stylizing the chic splendor of the Rococo era: a parade of lace, silks, braids, crinolines, a play of various colors - I counted at least a dozen shades of turquoise alone - all this within the framework of high taste and aesthetic pleasure.
Theatricality as an attitude is also conveyed by the silent corps de ballet of footmen. This is an amazing and incredibly touching group character of the play - either angels, or little people invisible to the heroes, who are trying to help, react, assist in some way, but in vain. They only get to applaud the final scene of Adriana Lecouvreur, the great diva of the Comédie Française, insidiously poisoned, who begins to die for real, but catches herself in time and completes this act full of dramatic pathos as a true tragic actress of the 18th century. And the audience of the 21st century has tears in their eyes.
Tragedy in verismo style