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 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.
|The Fair at Sorochinsk
Cesar and Cleopatra
Prima la Musica e poi le Parole
The Coronation of Poppea
The Marriage of Figaro
Cosi fan Tutte
The Cloak, Gianni Schicchi
The Taming of the Shrew (from
Much Ado about Nothing (from