Astana Opera to Premiere ‘Abai’ This Month

ASTANA – A grand début of “Abai,” the story of Kazakh poet and philosopher Abai Kunanbayev, will be held Sept. 25-26 at the Astana Opera. The modern interpretation of the opera promises to provide the audience with maximum open stage space, 3D video installations and luxurious costumes and decorations, according to the company’s press release.


Actors rehearsing on stage for the premiere of “Abai.”

“The identity of Abai Kunanbayev is very important to our nation,” said Ruslan Baimurzin, assistant to the chief conductor of the production Alan Buribayev, in an interview with The Astana Times. “‘Abai’ is in its first production in the Astana Opera, but was previously at Kulyash Baisseitova National Opera and Ballet Theatre.”

Considered to be one of the best achievements of Kazakh opera, “Abai” incorporates classics penned by composers Akhmet Zhubanov and Latif Khamidi. Social activist, professor and Soviet honoured academic Mukhtar Auezov authored the libretto. The premiere was held in 1944 and critics named the work a musical masterpiece.

The plot tells the story of the outstanding poet, educator and cultural reformer, his passionate love and the tragic death of his student, Aidar, who was killed by a deadly poison poured into his drink by envious individuals.

“Things that are interesting for any person regardless of his nationality are told in this opera, while the music is so emotional and beautiful that the public won’t be disappointed. I invite all to the premiere,” said Buribayev as quoted in the statement.аа

The updated version is the concept of the son of well-known opera singer Mario Del Monaco and director of the production Giancarlo Del Monaco, together with director-consultant, People’s Artist of Kazakhstan and professor Esmukhan Obayev.

Preparation for the premiere is currently underway in the theatre, according to the press release. The wardrobe and decorations have been created in the Astana Opera and Italian and Astana masters sewed 97 costumes. The art decoration has been completed by Kazakh and Italian craftsmen, led by modern set designer Ezio Frigerio and costume designer Franca Squarciapino.

Kazakh audiences will be treated for the first time to such a large-scale show with grand decorations, with the play using all the stage’s technical equipment, noted the statement. Twenty-five Italian craftspeople and specialists from the Astana Opera artistic and production department are working daily with Frigerio’s team to create complex constructions of aluminium, steel, wood and other materials with a total weight of 33 tonnes.

The conductor and orchestra rehearse for the "Abai" premiere.

The conductor and orchestra rehearse for the “Abai” premiere.

The “Abai” premiere is a major event this year in the cultural life of the country. The nation’s opera critics note the performance should cause great resonance, said the statement.

“Either way, Kazakh opera arts continue developing without forgetting their tradition. Currently, there are a lot of amazing composers who try themselves in this genre. The three big opera theatres in Almaty, Astana and Shymkent are big indicators of the respect and love for opera arts in Kazakhstan,” noted Baimurzin.

He added Kazakhstan’s opera arts are among the most significant on the international scale in the plan of their operas, singers and theatres and will go very far showing themselves to the world.

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