We must create a myth of new time,” says the production director Alexander Titel, “both Ostrovsky’s tale and Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera have been compromised by long-term “abuse” of Father Frost and Snegurochka who were used to entertain children for the New Year. Many generations have this kind of joyful image of these characters. And yet they are not at all like that in Ostrovsky’s or Rimsky-Korsakov’s works… In order to refresh perception and take away the “sweetness” accumulated in the years of this opera’s stage life, yet at the same time to talk about love and tenderness, an extreme situation is best. Tenderness and naivety need to be recreated under harsh conditions. So our “Snow Maiden” will be quite uncommon.
In the opera “The Snow Maiden” by Rimsky-Korsakov, based on Ostrovsky’s spring tale, the sun became angry with the people, and they haven’t been getting enough warmth ever since. Wise Tsar Berendei understands that a sacrifice is necessary – and Moroz the Frost’s cold daughter is chosen and given to Yarilo the Sun, who makes her melt into a puddle, becomes kinder because of that and returns sunlight to the people. Director Alexander Titel makes an assumption that some kind of very serious world cataclysm must stand behind this story, and creates post-nuclear winter on stage, with gloomy darkness and snowfall throughout the four hours. The victim is brought in, but natural sun cannot be returned; instead electric light is turned on, two walls of projectors burn as in prime-time at the Luzhniki Stadium, and the praising chorus to Yarilo is sung by the characters with such carnivorous grimaces that it becomes very clear – no gods exist, and the sacrifice was made to satisfy their very own base instincts.
Conductor Tugan Sokhiev’s work is stunning – scrupulous, detailed and spacious at the same time. Miniature in every moment – yet also large-scale. He is - just as always - a perfectionist, and you won’t find any fault with the filigree engraving of the way the orchestra, soloists or the choir sound. The opera is sung as if in one uninterrupted breath with pauses, unusually long for opera texture, incorporated into it. A special clarity and genuineness of part singing comes to life, you savor the singing of the orchestra – as if music is born here and now. Music is used for communication in the piece, and the notorious “acts” are no longer a pleasure island, they are intertwined with the general musical and dramatic flow.
Presented in the frame of Russian Case 2018
Opera by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Director: Alexander Titel
Choreographer: Larisa Alexandrova
Set designer: Vladimir Arefiev