St. Petersburg Chamber Opera to perform at Astana Opera House 

NUR-SULTAN – The St. Petersburg Chamber Opera, the state chamber music theatre, will present Giuseppe Verdi’s “Rigoletto” Nov. 9 and Georges Bizet’s “Les Pêcheurs de Perles” (“The Pearl Fishers”) Nov. 10 at the Astana Opera House in the capital.

A scene from “Rigoletto” opera. Photo credit: Astana Opera.

The theatre will stage the productions with an unconventional interpretation of the stories, colourful, luxurious costumes and excellent acting and musical performances, according to the theatre’s release. 

“I have a special relationship with Kazakhstan, as I have invested a lot of energy and effort in the development of national opera art. I was directly involved in the opening of Kazakhstan opera houses and staged about 13 productions at various venues, including at the country’s main opera stage – Astana Opera. Your audience is very important to me and I would not want to disappoint them. I hope my own team will show its merit,” said Director and People’s Artist of Russia Yuri Alexandrov.

Verdi considered the plot of “Rigoletto” to be the best he created and Alexandrov emphases the motif of the mask, the sinister masquerade of life. The main character is “an old hunchback – a court jester, a hypocrite with a grudge against the entire world,” he said, and he offers a new version of the psychological drama where the court jester is neither a hunchback nor an old man, but a sarcastic, intelligent, angry individual.

According to the synopsis, the hump and mask are nothing but a clownish appearance worn only at the duke’s court. Moral ugliness, however, cannot be thrown away like a mask. An extraordinary man forced to endure constant humiliation, he entertains himself with intrigues, willingly taking part in all the dirty amusements of his lord and his entourage. The fate punishes Rigoletto for his cruelty, making him kill his own daughter, Gilda.

A scene from “Les Pêcheurs de Perles” opera. Photo credit: Astana Opera.

“Despite the fact that St. Petersburg Opera is named a chamber music theatre and its native stage is very small, we do not limit ourselves to works of small form. This is one of the reasons why we can be considered a unique team. ‘Rigoletto’ is a truly large-scale production in every sense. In St. Petersburg, it runs at the Hermitage Theatre and we definitely choose ‘Rigoletto’ for touring when we have an opportunity to present it at a large venue. Therefore, Nur-Sultan’s stage, like no other, is suitable for this production,” said Alexandrov.

“Les Pêcheurs de Perles,” based on a libretto by Eugène Cormon and Michel Carré, takes place on the exotic island of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). In the centre of the plot is a love triangle – fisherman Zurga and head fisherman Nadir love the same girl Leïla, a Brahma priestess. 

“The opera is a beautiful fairy tale for grown-ups, in which there is a place for love, heroic deeds and self-sacrifice. I think that people of the 21st century need such stories in both Russia and Kazakhstan. Our production turned out to be very colourful and emotional and even despite the tragic ending (our version differs from the original libretto), in many countries where we brought it, the audience enthusiastically responded to the performance and left the auditorium in a very positive mood,” he noted.