The Donetsk Anatolii Solovianenko Opera and Ballet Theater is from now on Donbass Opera with a logo that depicts a pearl-shaped chandelier. Last Thursday the “coalmining capital” saw the premiere of Gioacchino Rossini’s Petite messe solennelle. And there was a concert on Monday, dedicated to the 80th birth anniversary of the prominent tenor Anatolii Solovianenko whose name the theater proudly bears now. October 5 will see the beginning of the 19th World Ballet Stars international festival to which spectators are already coming from both Ukraine and abroad.
Mr. Pysariev, please tell us about the new “face” of your theater. Who drew up the logo, why did the word “ballet” vanish from the name, and was it really necessary to change a universally known brand?
“It is Volodymyr Voronov’s brand name agency Pulse Progressive Company that devised our new theatrical brand. We are now called briefly: Donbass Opera. As we are coming closer to Europe, we will be known as Donbass Opera from now on – much in the tradition of such world-famous opera and ballet theaters as Metropolitan Opera and Grand Opera. It will seem to some that the new logo is a chandelier, but others will regard it as a pearl. I think it is a theatrical chandelier with 28 bulb holders that symbolize the number of productions in the repertoire. The new logo will reflect the theater’s brand style on official blank forms, envelopes, invitation and business cards, but nobody has ever cancelled the official name – Donetsk National Anatolii Solovianenko Opera and Ballet Theater.
“On the eve of a new season and the 80th anniversary of Anatolii Solovianenko’s birth, September 24, our theater staged a concert that presented world classical opera hits performed by National Opera of Ukraine soloists and Donetsk artists, with the Bolshoi Theater’s star singer Oleg Kulko as soiree guest. We are proud that our company is named after an outstanding tenor and that, thanks to Solovianenko’s talent, Donetsk became a city populated by aficionados of the exalted art of opera, and that the singer’s mastery glorified this country. You know, Solovianenko combined two major traits – the grandiose talent of a virtuoso singer with a unique voice and a very modest personality behind the scenes. I more than once heard his performances, and it was beautiful every time. I still can’t forget the inimitable way Solovianenko sang in Calgary, Canada. Accompanied by a folk instruments orchestra, he sang Ukrainian folksongs, while the audience wept. I am very grateful to Solovianenko for supporting me, when I decided to hold the first World Ballet Stars festival. He sang a wonderful Neapolitan song, ‘O surdato ‘nnamurato’ (‘The Soldier in Love’) by Enrico Cannio and I danced on the stage – we brought the concert to the end in this original way. Solovianenko and I used to meet very often, and I was always pleased very much to mingle with him – I had never seen him show a star syndrome. It’s a pity that the singer lived such a short life and failed to fulfill a lot of artistic plans.”
Donbass Opera began its 81st theatrical season with a first-night production of Gioacchino Rossini’s Petite messe solennelle, and opera buffs expect to hear Richard Wagner’s Der fliegende Hollaender (The Flying Dutchman) in December. What can you say about these productions?
“On September 27 we will raise the curtain and hear a prayer – the premiere of Rossini’s Petite messe solennelle. The composer called this work ‘the last sin of my old age.’ The Messe’s structure is based on a traditional Catholic mass text, to which the composer added the hymn ‘O salutaris hostia,’ a poem by St. Thomas Aquinas set to music. The score was specially brought to Donetsk from Vienna. The production was prepared by conductor Viktor Oliinyk, choir master Liudmyla Streltsova, stage director Iryna Mykhailova, and designer Serhii Speviakin. The solo parts were sung by Tetiana Plekhanova (soprano), Serhii Hontovy (tenor), Yurii Aleksieichuk (bass), and Liudmyla Shemchuk (mezzo-soprano). We made an astonishing video footage of the production: we selected an original image for every musical note (for more details of the premiere, see one of The Day’s next issues).
“The production of Richard Wagner’s Der fliegende Hollaender is a unique cultural Ukrainain-German project timed to the 200th birth anniversary of the composer. This is the first time this opera is being staged not only in Donetsk, but also in Ukraine (it will be sung in German, the original language). To make this production (where Vasyl Vasylenko is the chief conductor and Vasyl Riabenky, director general of the Donetsk theater, is the project manager), we have invited some well-known producers and singers from various countries. We are helped by an international team: Hans Juergen Heimsoeth, German Ambassador to Ukraine; Klaus Zillikens, German Consul General in Donetsk; the German cultural center Goethe Institute in Kyiv and its director Vera Bagaliantz; and the Donetsk City Administration. Incidentally, on August 21 to September 6 our theater hosted a German production team – stage director Mara Kurotschka, designers Torge Moeller, Momme Hinrichs, and Julia Hartung – as well as consulting conductor Mikhail Sinkevich (Mariinsky Theater in Saint Petersburg), soloists Walter Fink and Andreas Macco (Germany), prize winner at the International Richard Wagner Competition of Young Vocalists Lesia Aleksieiyeva (National Opera of Ukraine), as well as our theater’s soloists, choir, and symphony orchestra.”
It is a tradition that in the fall you invite audiences to the World Ballet Stars festival. What are you going to please Donetsk spectators with and why will Kyiv residents be unable to see the stars’ gala concert this year?
“I will remind you that we are holding the 19th festival on October 5 to 12 this year. Denys Matviienko, in charge of ballet at the National Opera, is presenting for the first time in Donetsk a production of Romeo and Juliet – choreography by Edward Klug to the music of Radiohead. I think audiences will not miss the soiree of Farukh Ruzimatov (Russia). He presents Tango, Bolero, Bhakti, and Moor’s Pavane (variations for Othello). Incidentally, English ballet buffs call Farukh a dancing leopard because the dancer shows a wonderful cat-like plastique, harmoniously combining a virtuosic dancing technique and a dramatic talent. As part of the fest, there will be concerts of the Moscow Choreographic School of the Gzhel Theater of Dance on October 7 and 11. The program also includes Don Quixote (soloists Cristina Shevchenko, USA, and Aidos Zakan, Kazakhstan) and an updated version (stage settings and costumes) of Swan Lake in which the main parts will be performed by Nina Ananiashvili (Georgia) and Denys Matviienko (Ukraine). The gala concert on October 12 will display a number of current world-class ballet stars, such as Ilze Liepa, Illya Kuznetsov, Sofia Gumerova, Kristina Andreeva, Oleg Ivenko, David Zaleev (Russia), Christina Shevchenko (USA), Jonah Acosta (UK), Annett Delgado, Danni Hernandez (Cuba), Takan Ballet (Japan), Maria Baranova, Michael Krcmar (Finland), Aidios Zakan (Kazakhstan), Yelyzaveta Cheprasova, Andrii Pysariev (Ukraine), and others. Unfortunately, we will be unable to hold the final concert in Kyiv due to financial problems. There was Euro-2012 this year and a parliamentary election campaign is in full swing now, so it is rather difficult to find a sponsor in order to hold a high-profile ballet soiree in the capital. We have assessed our potential and decided to focus on Donetsk.”
Judging by your flying start, audiences are in for an action-packed season.
“Yes, we have launched a lot of interesting artistic projects. We were invited to go to Paris on a tour, and we are expecting many foreign guests on December 8 for the premiere of Der fliegende Hollaender. We have updated Swan Lake. I will remind you that in the last season we staged about 150 productions and premiered the opera La Boheme by Giacomo Puccini and the ballet Notre Dame de Paris by Cesare Pugni, which were a star attraction on our billboard. I am convinced that in this season, too, audiences will gain a lot of impressions by visiting our theater. On the eve of Euro-2012 we renovated the building, especially the foyer – everything glitters and shines, and we are proud of working in such a wonderful theater as Donbass Opera.”