Astana Opera Opens New Season with Abai, Announces La Sylphide Premiere

ASTANA – The Astana Opera raised its velvet curtain on Sept. 8, inaugurating its 11th season with the classic Kazakh opera “Abai,” composed by Akhmet Zhubanov and Latif Khamidi, according to the opera’s press service.

The roles are consistently well cast with renowned baritone Zhanat Shybykbayev as Abai. Photo credit:

The ballet season will commence on Sept. 15 with Raimondo Rebeck’s choreography of “Cinderella,” followed by the premiere of Herman Severin Løvenskiold’s ballet “La Sylphide” on Sept. 29.

First premiering in 1944, the “Abai” opera, with a libretto by Mukhtar Auezov, mirrors the plot of Auezov’s dramatic play. It explores themes of conservatism versus reformism and also weaves in a tragic love story, the kind that has inspired great playwrights and composers throughout history.

In the interpretation of conductor Alan Buribayev, an honored worker of Kazakhstan and laureate of the state prize, the opera takes on a new dimension. His innovative approach previously won the Astana Opera the State Prize five years ago.

The production boasts consistently strong casting, featuring renowned baritone Zhanat Shybykbayev as Abai and tenor Meir Bainesh as Aidar, Abai’s student. The orchestra, led by maestro Buribayev, performs with exceptional finesse and passionate conducting.

“Abai” opera is both a story of the struggle between conservatism and reformism, as well as of a doomed love between Aidar and Azhar. Photo credit:

“It often seems that the opera ‘Abai’ has only one interpretation, but Astana Opera’s production proves otherwise. An interpretation in the spirit of Kazakhstan’s independent operatic art was presented to the audience,” commented Talgat Ibrayev, a member of the audience.

By opening the new season with a work of national significance, Astana Opera emphasizes the importance of preserving Kazakhstan’s rich cultural heritage while popularizing national authors and performers.

The newly appointed Kazakh Minister of Culture and Information Aida Balayeva attended the opening night and congratulated the Astana Opera team on the launch of the new theatrical season.

La Sylphide Premiere

The Astana Opera also announced that the new season will feature the premiere of Herman Severin Løvenskiold’s ballet “La Sylphide” on Sept. 29-30 and Oct. 1-3.

The new season for the Astana Opera opened with a full house under unceasing applause and shouts of “Bravo!” Photo credit:

With traditional Scottish melodies, magical characters and engrossing plot, “La Sylphide” came to be seen as the symbol of romantic ballet and is staged at major venues worldwide. The ballet narrates an enthralling story of a young Scotsman and a sylph.

Artistic Director of the Astana Opera and world ballet star Altynai Asylmuratova will stage the choreography in accordance with classical canons.

“Two centuries ago, in 1832, the groundbreaking ballet ‘La Sylphide’ launched the Romantic era in dance. It paved the way for masterpieces like ‘Giselle’ and ‘Chopiniana,’” said Asylmuratova.

“The ballet is both beautiful and challenging. The Bournonville School differs in many respects from the classical style we are accustomed to. It involves unique body positions and hand placements, as well as intricate technique,” she added.

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