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MOSCOW'S CHAMBER OPERA THEATER
Artistic director : Boris Alexandrovitch Pokrovsky
 [ VERSION FRANCAISE ]
 
In the 60's in Moscow, lyrical artists felt a real need for renewal and change, and started searching for a new approach to role interpreting. Inspired by Stanislavsky's psychological realism, they intended to develop an approach to score interpretation that would integrate human psychological expression to the logic of singing. This evolution was visibly "in the air", as at that very same time, in Western Europe, artists like Wieland Wagner, Götz Friedrich, Jean-Pierre Ponnelle, Günter Rennert, Walter Felsenstein were doing similar research.

Boris Pokrovsky was one of the pioneers of this new approach. Early on in his staging career Pokrovsky was inspired by Chaliapin's art of role interpretation and the theories of Stanislavski that served him as a working base for the productions he staged for the Bolshoi, in Prague and in Leibzig, namely The Player, Katerina Ismailovna and Shostakovich's The Dead Souls, as well as Prokofiev's Love of Three Oranges. These stagings became the corner stone for the development of a new form of Russian opera.

In fact, rehearsing with major opera companies, Pokrovski discovered that a very thorough and demanding work accomplished during the preparation of a production permitted the singers to develop their acting potential in an astonishing way. But Pokrovsky also realized that a great deal of this subtle work was lost in some of the large Lyrical Halls, and that in order to show this art of psychological detail in performing, the productions had to be presented in small venues, where the artists would literally evolve under the audience's nose. He received confirmation of his point of view when he started working with students of the Moscow School, who demonstrated the success of this method in front of an audience of connaisseurs.

And so, was born the idea of creating a small scale theater, perfectly fitted for the psychological opera style that Pokrovsky intended to develop. And thus, on January 18th 1972, Moscow's Chamber Opera Theater was inaugurated with Chedrine's Not Only About Love. It was an immediate success. Not even in their wildest dreams, did Pokrovsky and his colleagues ever imagine the interest and the enthusiasm that the public showed for this new genre of musical theater.

This enthusiasm permitted Moscow's Chamber Opera Theater to work back to the roots of Russian opera of the XVIIIth century and to make the public rediscover a repertory that no one saw for over two hundred years : they staged works of Forine, Pachensky, Bortuïansk, Rostovsky, for example. Generally, stagings of Russian operas were a center piece of their productions : along with better known authors like Shostakovitch, Shedrine, Krenikon, Kolminov, Bogoslovski, Moscow's Chamber Opera Theater also staged works of composers of the new generation. But the European XVIIIth and XIXth century repertory was not, for that, forgotten, with Mozart's Theater Director, Haydn's The Pharmacist, Rossini's La Cambiale di Matrimonio, Schubert's Imeneo and The Twins, amongst others, nor was the XXth century repertory, with, namely, Stravinski's The Rake's Progress and Brecht/Weill's The Seven Deadly Sins.

Since it's opening, Moscow's Chamber Opera Theater has produced more than sixty works, two thirds of which are by Russian and Soviet composers.

Moscow's Chamber Opera Theater is an almost unique example in the world : it has it's own style, it's own working methods and it's own artistic principles. They emanate from Pokrovsky's personal concepts, based on the synthesis and the symbiosis of the musical score, the stage direction and sets, the dramatic performance and the vocal interpretation. To work in this manner requires the singers to undergo a very specific training of several years within the company, outside the music conservatories and other art schools. The Company thus provides it's singers with an intensive training that gives them great flexibility : the total identification to their ensemble is such that it permits a system where the singers can easily interchange their roles. Quite reminiscent of an old Comédie Française tradition, an artist can sing a leading role one night, and the day after sing in the chorus... Even the orchestra musicians do not "only" play their instruments, but are at times directly incorporated, with the conductor, into the staging.

Pokrovsky's personal work with Moscow's Chamber Opera Theater aroused great interest in the world of opera, not only because of it's originality and it's artistic exactingness, but also because he was able to surround himself with talented artists and collaborators. Alongside with Pokrovsky, the famous conductor Guennady Rozhdestevensky conducted the Chamber Opera Theater's orchestra for over ten years. He was then replaced by W. Agronsky and Anatoly Levine. Currently, Moscow's Chamber Opera Theater's orchestra is directed by Lev Ossovsky, but Levine continues to conduct certain performances.


Boris Alexandrovitch Pokrovsky
Artistic director

Boris Alexandrovitch Pokrovsky is the very soul of Moscow's Chamber Opera Theater. Considered to be a great man by Russian professionals and European connaisseurs of Russian and Soviet theater, he's an artistic reference, a symbol of an authentic and honest work process, an idol for young generations of theater enthusiasts.

It was with the form of grand opera that Boris Pokrovsky made a name for himself. First remarked for his spectacular production of Carmen staged in Novosibirsk, he was named head director of the State Opera in Minsk, then, after the Second World War, he became artistic director of the Bolshoï in Moscow. Towards the 70's, without completely abandoning grand opera, Pokrovsky started turning to chamber opera, that permitted him to develop a different approach to performing.

Whoever saw Pokrovsky work with his company, and tirelessly demand of it an approach that conforms to his own exigence for artistic morality and authenticity, can only be profoundly moved by the acknowledgement of the fact that theater is not only acting in itself, but reposes on a foundation of ethics. Pokrovsky's stagings are not only formal esthetic or artistic : they aim at rapidly displaying the substance of the work through man's behavior, his weaknesses, his uncontrolled emotions, his heartless ideology, but also his quest for personal discipline, his efforts to strive for the better, his aspirations for great ideas...

Next January 23rd, Boris Pokrovsky will turn 90 years old. He naturally has a whole host of followers who continue his work in accordance with his artistic and human principles, and despite his age, he continues to closely follow the productions of Moscow's Chamber Opera Theater, that he even sometimes accompanies on tour.


Repertory
1. Mussorgsky
2. Shostakovitch
3. Haendel
4. Mozart
5. Salieri
6. Monteverdi
7. Mozart
8. Mozart
9. Mozart
10. Puccini
11. Shebalin
12. Berlioz
The Fair at Sorochinsk
The Nose
Cesar and Cleopatra
The Impresario
Prima la Musica e poi le Parole
The Coronation of Poppea
Don Juan
The Marriage of Figaro
Cosi fan Tutte
The Cloak, Gianni Schicchi
The Taming of the Shrew (from Shakespeare)
Much Ado about Nothing (from Shakespeare)

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