Pokrovsky-fest: celebrating his 110th anniversary


Traditionally, at Christmas time, the Chamber Theatre presents one of the most unusual performances by Pokrovsky – The Rostov Mystery. This production, which is based on The Comedy on Christmas Day by Metropolitan Demetrius of Rostov, a text from the 18th century, was first shown in 1982 and has remained in the repertoire ever since. There will be two performances as part of the festival – on the 7th and 8th of January.

On the 11th of January, the Chamber Stage will witness the unfolding of the story of The Fair at Sorochyntsi, which has become one of the most famous Pokrovsky’s productions of the last decade of his career in the theatre. The combination of "Gogol and Mussorgsky” was perfect for the director, who had admired them both all his life. Pokrovsky could not have passed this opera by and what is more surprising, he staged it for the first time having been commissioned by the Opéra-Comique in Paris. Later he ‘voluntarily’ transferred it to his native stage, where first a great success awaited it and then the State Prize of the Russian Federation.

On the 13th of January, the festival will once again present a comic opera, two comic operas to be precise. Not so often we can see Der Schauspieldirektor by Mozart and Pimpinone by Telemann, two masterpieces of the 18th century in theatre playbills. However, Pokrovsky always aimed at discovering novelty and giving new life to long forgotten old works. Der Schauspieldirektor he staged in 1975. Then in 1983, his student, a famous Estonian director, Arne Mikk realised a production of Telemann’s opera, which has become the successful second component of this programme.

On the 15th of January our audience will be offered the opera Guilio Cesare and Cleopatra by Handel. Pokrovsky first dealt with this outstanding work of the baroque era in 1979. At the Bolshoi Theatre the first production of Handel’s opera on the Russian stage was carried out by the efforts of young trainee directors. Boris Pokrovsky, chief director of the Bolshoi at the time, acted as the curator of the youthful team of directors and singers. It was in 2002 that he staged this opera for the first time at his Chamber Theatre.

On the 18th of January, the Chamber Stage will be given to the power of Don Giovanni. Being true to himself, Pokrovsky approached the interpretation of Mozart’s masterpiece untraditionally, having defined his intentions by the very name of the production, to which he gave back the often dropped ‘explanatory’ second part. In the playbill of the Chamber Theatre, and now the Chamber Stage of the Bolshoi Theatre, the opera is named Don Giovanni, Ossia Il Dissoluto Punito. In Boris Pokrovsky’s opinion, it had to speak for itself. The inevitability of retribution became one of the leading themes of his production.

The festival programme includes performances as well as “concerts-tributes”. On the 22nd of January, there will be a concert by the students of Russian musical universities and on the 29th – a gala-concert by the artists of the Boris Pokrovsky Chamber Theatre.

The life of Boris Pokrovsky was always strongly connected with the Bolshoi Theatre, to which he devoted almost forty years of his career and staged over forty productions. He was the first to introduce A Midsummer Night's Dream by B. Britten and The Gambler by S. Prokofiev to the repertoire of the Russian musical theatre. He realised the production of the opera Dead Souls, for which the Bolshoi commissioned Rodion Shchedrin. The range of his personal opera repertoire was incredibly diverse.

However, in 1972, following his desire to enlarge the space for experimentation, Pokrovsky, who continued working at the Bolshoi Theatre, founded the Chamber Theatre. It was destined to make its voice heard loudly and develop its own audience. At that theatre, he staged another seventy productions, reviving forgotten names and giving stage life to new works. In 2009, after the master’s death, the theatre was named after him. In 2017, the Chamber Theatre became part of the Bolshoi.