Art as food for thought

The New Year is finally here. Every single person is waiting in anticipation for the new things that lie ahead - something interesting, bright, original that we can talk about with our friends or our significant other over a cup of hot tea, warm apple pie or a ginger cookie during the winter evenings. A trip to the theatre, a concert or an exhibition can provide you with this kind of food for thought for your conversations.

The capital’s residents lovingly refer to this Moscow theatre as “Tabakerka.” This is because it is headed up by Mr. Tabakov, one of the heavyweights of Russian theatre, a living legend who recently celebrated his 80th birthday but continues to amaze the public with his new masterpieces. Now, Oleg Pavlovich has a place where he can do whatever he wants. This past fall, a new stage under his leadership was opened on Malaya Sukharevskaya square. Even the mayor of Moscow took part in this important opening ceremony. Why? Because one of the longest theatre construction projects was completed. The mayor personally congratulated the theatre group. “Congratulations on your new home,” he said, “Oleg Pavlovich said that it’s a shame this didn’t happen in 2017, which would have marked 20 years since a decision was first made to build a new stage. Nonetheless, we tried to revive the abandoned construction site and did everything we could to ensure that we would have a comfortable, technically modern theatre that gives us new opportunities.”

The Tabakov theatre opened in Moscow in the fall of 1978. For almost 10 years, it was funded solely by Mr. Tabakov himself. In 1986, the theatre, which already managed to win over the audience, finally obtained state theatre status. It used to be located in the former “red corner,” which was located on the first floor and basement of a residential building on Ulitsya Chaplygina 1. Prior to this, the basement had served as a coal depot.

Oleg Tabakov’s theatre is in the same location today as well: a modest auditorium that can sit 114 people, a small foyer, rehearsal hall and several offices. Taking into account the merits of the theater and its popularity, in 1997 the Moscow government decided to build a new stage for Tabakerka, the design and construction of which began only in 2005. Construction was halted due to various financial, economic and technical problems and resumed only in 2012.

It’s a complicated story. The new stage adheres to all new modern requirements: a capacity of 400 people, the first 4 rows of which can be folded and used to expand the stage. The newest technologies are used to convert the stage, allowing the staff to quickly change stage decorations in the middle of a play. The first play graced the stage on September 27 - a premiere of the new version of "Sailor's Silence" by Alexander Galich, one of the most prominent Tabakerka productions.

Just like 26 years ago, Oleg Tabakov was the director. The play used to be banned under censorship laws, and Tabakov was the first to produce it in 1990 in the basement on Ulitsya Chaplygina. The play immediately became a theatre hit in Moscow. All of Tabakerka’s stars were featured in it: Vladimir Mashkov, Evgeniy Mironov, Sergey Bezrukov and Oleg Tabakov himself. Today, Oleg Tabakov’s son Pavel is starring in the main role of the play. Just like 26 years ago, the public will hear the story of Abram Schwartz and his boundless love for his son.

There are also excellent plays at the Operetta Theater. There is a musical based on one of the most well-known Russian novels in the world. “Anna Karenina” is a dramatic love story by Leo Tolstoy that has become an international classic. The romance between the married woman Anna and the young officer Alexey Vronsky leads to a tragic end - suicide! The woman throws herself under a train. In spite of the fact that the story is over 100 years old, it is still relevant today. A lot of us have dealt with cheating, or the contradictions between doing what we want to and doing what’s right. Some people have even experienced the pain of witnessing our world crumble because of a betrayal by the one person they trusted. Anna is played alternatively by two actresses: Ekaterina Guseva and Valeria Lanskaya. Original libretto, great vocals, spectacular choreography and music performed live by the theatre’s orchestra are just a few major selling points of this phenomenal musical performance.

At the end of January, the Bolshoi Theatre will be showing the legendary ballet “La Bayadère.” Back before the revolution, the famous Mathilda Kshesinskaya, the favorite ballerina of the Romanov family and mistress of Nicholas II, starred in the ballet as Nikiya. Now, the part is danced by Ekaterina Krysanova, Svetlana Zakharova, Olga Smirnova and other ballerinas. The ballet was originally staged by the famous choreographer Marius Petipa. He came up with the unbelievably beautiful dance in the ballet’s third act - the romantic dance of shadows in the Himalayas. 32 dancers, dressed in white, descend slowly down the mountain and form a rectangle. The shadow dance is hypnotizing. In the beginning of the 90s, Yuri Grigorovich brought the ballet back to the Bolshoi, sticking to the Mariinsky Theatre original as much as possible. Grigorovich kept the old choreography but also came up with a lot of new dances as well.

On February 1st, the State Kremlin Palace will host the 75th birthday celebration of Lev Leshenko, the favorite singer of Leonid Brezhnev and performer of the “Victory Day” hit. Decades have gone by and new performers became popular, but Lev Leshenko remained as popular as ever. The anniversary evening will have many celebrity guests: Iosif Kobzon, Alexander Rosenbaum, Vladimir Vinokur, Philip, Gennady Khazanov, Vyacheslav Dobrynin, Igor Krutoy, Stas Mikhailov, Nadezhda Babkina, Valery Meladze, Nikolay Baskov, Tamara Gverdtsiteli, Oleg Gazmanov, Lolita, Lyme Vajkule, Natasha Koroleva, Soso Pavliashvili, Alsou, and many others!

On February 17, Crocus City Hall will host a performance by VIA Gra. The name speaks for itselfs - it’s a reference to a pill for men who are having issues with potency. VIA Gra is a project by the famous composer Konstantin Meladze, and has been around for a long time, since 2000. The members of the band have changed a lot over the past 16 years: some have left and started families, had children (one of the soloists, Vera Brezhneva, married Meladze), started their own careers. However, the group remains popular today. The women are definitely sex symbols of Russian show business. Bright makeup, messy hair that looks like it’s been through a romp during a sleepless night, daring outfits that boldly highlight curves, and long legs. The song titles surely follow suit: “I have a new lover,” “Magic,” “Get lost,” “Anti-Geisha,” and “Don’t Leave Me, Lover!”.

On February 18, the stage will be graced by another kind of singer. She is best known for her original tone of voice, original costumes and unusual hairstyles. She looks like an alien who came to Earth from a distant planet. And there are no overt erotic undertones, and even her creative pseudonym suits her character: Yelka. Yelka, which means “Christmas Tree” in Russian, is associated with the New Year, happy holidays, a family dinner and long-awaited presents. All of this undoubtedly puts people in a better mood. Yelka herself tries to infect her audience with positivity at every show.

On March 5, there will be the main rock music event of the year. Yuri Shevchuk and the band DDT will presenting the anticipated program “The History of Sound.” There will be a selection of the best songs from landmark albums of the legendary band, from the early days to the present, all brought together into a single program at Olimpiyskiy National Sports Complex.

The band has been gearing up for this this large-scale concert for a long time. They are true pioneers of Russian rock music, born in the USSR. The leader, Yuri Shevchuk, has a special place in Russian rock music. He has always sang about his surroundings, trying to make sense of his reality. Shevchuk became a significant personality of the era of change, of perestroika. One of his hits, “Rodina,” was written in 1989 after he read Boris Pasternak’s novel “Dr. Zhivago.” This is why the lyrics talk about "black lights from neighboring gates, hatches, cuffs, torn mouth." And also these lines: “I’m going home, let them say she’s ugly. I like her anyway, even though she’s no beauty.” Later, in 1991, DDT recorded a song called “Born in USSR,” which was a reaction to the collapse of the Soviet Union. The most famous song about the war in Chechnya, called “Dead City. Christmas,” was born in 1995. After this, Shevchuk ran away from everything for a few years to a remote village because he didn’t want to lose his mind after everything he saw in Chechnya. Fans will hear the famous hits “Fall,” “Home,” “Malchiki-Mazhory,” “The Last Fall” and “Revolution.”

On International Women’s Day, March 8th, the famous designer Valentin Yudashkin will have a show at the Kremlin Palace. His dresses and suits are in museums all over the world, even at the Louvre in France! His works are also at the International Museum of Olympic Games in Lausanne and at the fashion museum in California. And, of course, at the State Historical Museum in Moscow.

Fans of the opera are also in for a surprise. On March 12, the International House will host a concert of song and dance by the Alexandrov Ensemble. Over the course of several decades, the famous ensemble has been shocking the world with its brilliant performances. The program includes masterpieces of Russian and Western European classical music: arias from the opera "Carmen" by Bizet, "La Traviata" and "Nabucco" by Verdi, "Boris Godunov" by Mussorgsky, "Iolanta" by Tchaikovsky, "Turandot" by Puccini, the cantata "Alexander Nevsky" by Prokofiev and more.

On March 14, the State Kremlin Palace will have a show for fans of the French pop legend, the inimitable Mireille Mathieu. The singer will be 70 this year, but she is still in great shape. This brilliant and charming woman has performed in Moscow several times and has always received a warm welcome. This time, she will be doing a program called “The History of Love.” It will be a true night out in Paris. After all, Mireille Mathieu is one of the most famous French women in the world.

After Mathieu, another French legend will be performing at the same venue. On April 5, the State Kremlin Palace will be hosting a concert with Charles Aznavour, a symbol of an era. Aznavour, who will be 93 on May 22, is recognized as the best pop singer of the century by both CNN and TIMES magazine. Over the course of his 70-year-long career, he sold 100 million records, wrote 1,200 songs, played 80 different roles in films, released 294 albums and held over 1,000 concerts across 94 countries all over the world. The list of Aznavour’s famous songs includes “Eternal Love,” “Ave Maria,” “La Boheme,” and “Only Yesterday.” The composition “Eternal Love” was translated into multiple languages, including into Russian. By the way, he performed the hit together with Mireille Mathieu in the 80s.



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