Bolshoi to take part in Rostropovich Week in Moscow


The Bolshoi Orchestra and Chorus Season Ticket Concerts at the Big Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire continue with a concert performance of Verdi’s Otello. It forms part of the program for the Mstislav Rostropovich Week in Moscow Festival, to be held for the first time in the capital from 27 March to 2 April. The Festival has been organized on the personal initiative of Mayor Yuri Luzhkov and the Government of Moscow.

Taking part in the Festival will be musicians from different countries — friends of the maestro and orchestras with which he appeared (the Academic Symphony Orchestra of the St. Petersburg. Philharmonia, The English Chamber Orchestra, the Orchestra and Chorus of the Bolshoi Theatre of Russia). The fact there will be a performance of Otello at the Festival is not fortuitous: the maestro loved this opera and often talked of his wish to produce it. A wish, alas, that was not to see the light of day.

Conducting Otello will be Zoltan Peshko, who has twice collaborated with the Bolshoi: he conducted Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 with the Bolshoi Symphony Orchestra and was a member of the production team for the Bolshoi’s The Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk by Dmitri Shostakovich (2004). Peshko was a student of two of the most original maestros of the 20th century — Sergio Chelibidake, known for his super-slow tempos and Pierre Boulez who called for “opera-houses to be blown up”. The start of his international career, however, was nothing if not respectable: in 1970, he appeared at La Scala where he immediately demonstrated a broad stylistic range, producing in the course of a single season Mozart’s La finta giardiniera, Prokofiev’s The Fiery Angel, and Dallapiccola’s Ulisse.

Today the conductor’s repertoire includes 16th and 17th century music, recent avant-garde works, classical ’repertory’ operas and forgotten masterpieces (in particular he is the first and, as yet, the only conductor of Modest Mussorgsky’s unfinished opera Salammbo). Zoltan Peshko is also known for his skilled interpretations of Italian 19th century opera. Otello (as many other Verdi operas) has been in his repertoire since the very first years of his conducting career. He has conducted it at the Arena di Verona Festival and in Berlin, Naples and Dusseldorf.

Nor is it fortuitous that the title role at this concert will be sung byBolshoi Theatre soloist Badri Maysuradze — friend to Mstislav Rostropovich (at the maestro’s invitation he took part in productions of Tchaikovsky’s Mazeppa at La Scala and Shostakovich’s Katerina Izmailova in Madrid and Naples), and teacher at the Galina Vishnevskaya Centre for Opera Singing. Maysuradze has been singing Otello, one of the most difficult parts in the world operatic repertoire, for many years, appearing in the role at the Montpellier Festival (France), at Royal Swedish Opera (Stockholm), Royal Danish Opera (Copenhagen), and in Italy.

Desdemona will be sung by the American singer Michele Crider, who has been described by critics “as one of the leading dramatic sopranos of her generation”. Her opera debut was in 1988 when she was a finalist in the Luciano Pavarotti Competition. For well nigh twenty years, Crider has been appearing at leading opera houses in America and Europe (the Met, Royal Opera House, London, Vienna State Opera, Berlin State Opera, La Scala, Arena di Verona and elsewhere), where she has sung very different parts in the Italian repertoire — ranging from belcanto to the verisimo school. This is her first appearance in Russia and the first time she will be singing Desdemona.

The young Verdi baritone Silvio Zanon (Iago) will also be making his debut before the Russian public. In 2007, he appeared at Barcelona’s Liceu Opera House in Giordano’s Andrea Chenier. A year later he sang Scarpia in a production of Tosca by Franceso Zeffirelli for Rome Opera. He became widely known in 2008, after a triumphant debut at la Scala (Puccini’s Il Tabarro). However, Verdi roles make up the bulk of his repertoire (Rigoletto, Conte di Luna, Giorgio Germont and others).

The other parts will be sung by participants in the Bolshoi Theatre’s Youth Program and by the Galina Vishnevskaya Centre for Opera Singing soloists.