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Novosibirsk Ballet (Ballet company)


The Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre has a special destiny. The only theatre in the world, which was built and unveiled during World War II, it grew out of bold ideas, strong spirit and thirst for the future. The project, which eventually brought the largest theatre building in Russia, originated from the boldest ideas of Vsevolod Meyerhold. In 1927, in his conversation with young architects, he proposed “a revolution in the field of theatre architecture, a jump over the objective data of today,” in order to design the projects “of the future, that will be possible in a hundred years.” In the early 1930s, a construction of a huge theatre in a one-story city could be compared to flying to Mars. The authors of the project wanted to create a huge panoramic theatre, a “hi-tech theatre with real sets,” where the cars, tractors, tanks or columns of demonstrators could appear on the stage right from the street. The difficult time of the dawn of socialism forced to change the project a lot. Nevertheless, the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre proved by its history: nothing is impossible.

The Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre opened on 12 May 1945 with Glinka’s opera Ivan Susanin. A bit earlier, during the war, the unfinished theatre building housed pieces of art evacuated from the Hermitage museum, the Tretyakov Gallery, Pushkin Fine Arts Museum, palaces of Pavlovsk and Tsarskoe Selo, as well as musical instruments made by Stradivari, Guarneri, Amati from the state collection.

In September 1941, the Leningrad Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra was evacuated from the besieged city to Novosibirsk. Under the baton of Evgeny Mravinsky, the evacuated orchestra played over 500 concerts for over 400 thousand listeners; they also played over 240 concerts broadcast by the radio. On 7 November 1942, the first part of the Seventh Symphony, created by Dmitri Shostakovich in the besieged Leningrad, was performed in Novosibirsk in the presence of the composer.

From its first seasons the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre has had a great company, equipment and resources. The Theatre started forming its repertoire, mainly a classical one: operas Eugene Onegin, The Queen of Spades, Faust, the ballet Le Corsaire were shown to great public acclaim. Ballets Doctor Powderpill and The Scarlet Flower were staged for the young audience.

The high professional level of the company was determined by the renowned musician Isidor Zak. He held the post of the Principal Conductor of the theatre during the first seasons till 1949, and returned to the Theatre in 1968, where he stayed till the end of his days in 1986.

In 1955, 10 years after its unveiling, the Novosibirsk Theatre was invited on tour to Moscow for the “performance report”; the productions of the theatre were performed at the Bolshoi Theatre. In 1957, the Theatre had its first international tour to the People’s Republic of China. Two years later, in 1959, the Novosibirsk Theatre witnessed the premiere of the ballet The Magic Lotus Lantern staged by the Chinese choreographers.

In 1963, the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre received the title of academic. By the time, it gained a reputation of a theatre ready for experiments. On 5 November 1961, Rodion Shchedrin’s opera Not Only Love received its world premiere in Novosibirsk. It was staged by Emil Pasynkov, who held the post of Principal Stage Director in the 1960s. In 1975–1988, the post was held by Waughan Bagratuni, who staged over 40 operas.

For the ballet company, the 1960s—70s became the decades of its intensive development and gaining wide popularity. It is here that Oleg Vinagradov started his career as a ballet master; the company worked with choreographers Pyotr Gusev, Vasily Vaynonen, Yury Grigorovich. The company also gained ballet stars — Nikita Dolgushin, Lyubov Gershunova, Anatoly Berdyshev.

The Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre strengthened its international position in the 1990s. Both opera and ballet companies have intensive tours and take part in the international co-productions — ballet Argo, operas The Magic Flute and Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (together with German theatres and cultural institutes). The tradition was continued in the 21st century. Theatre community was agitated by the Russian premiere of Alfred Schnittke’s opera Life with an Idiot staged in Novosibirsk in 2003. The production was created by an international team; the Russian premiere in the framework of the Year of Russia in Germany was followed by an extensive tour around Germany. The operas Tosca, Carmen, and La bohème are co-productions with Grand Opera Theatre in Busan (South Korea).

The production of Verdi’s Macbeth drew international attention: the first Russian co-production with Paris Opera made Novosibirsk a centre of international opera life. The stage director of the opera Dmitri Tcherniakov, today one of the most prominent figures in the world opera directing, actually began his creative life at the Novosibirsk Theatre: his first opera production was The Young David by Vladimir Kobekin, composed in 1998.

Each of the three Tcherniakov’s productions — in 2004 he staged Aida at the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre — were shown to great critical and public acclaim. The high level of the opera and ballet productions in 2004–2011 was determined by the Musical Director of the Theatre Theodor Currentzis.

Since 2006 the ballet company of the Theatre has been headed by Igor Zelensky. On his initiative, the Siberian Ballet Festival is regularly held at the Theatre.

Crisis in the management of the theatre had a negative impact on the stability of the creative processes. In the spring of 2015, the crisis resulted in a sharp social conflict, which caused a strong need for a change of the managers. Vladimir Kekhman was appointed General Director of the Theatre instead of Boris Mezdrich.




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