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The fairytale by the famous French writer Charles Perrault Puss in Boots came to life at the Kulyash Baiseitova Chamber Hall. The music for the beloved story was written in 1913 by the composer César Cui. Thus, an operatic masterpiece for the little ones appeared, which has been pleasing young viewers all over the world for 110 years. The time-tested story was first presented at the Astana Opera on May 30 and June 1, Astana Opera press office reports.
Yerenbak Toikenov, stage director of the production, and his assistant Nikolai Kulikov made the performance very dynamic, using every corner of the stage. They did not move far from the plot, in the fairytale opera, the miller’s youngest son received an inheritance from his father: a cat and a few coins, whereas the older and middle sons got a donkey and a mill. The resourceful Cat asked his new master to buy him boots, and then proceeded to solve all of his problems. Thanks to him, the young man, who until recently was the poor son of a miller, became a marquis, received a luxurious castle and a beautiful princess as his wife.
On different days, Artur Gabdiyev and Nurkanat Tapiyev performed the Cat. The vocalists created very organic character interpretations. Incidentally, it was not the easiest part, because it retained the spirit of a grand opera, with its arias and duets. In addition, the artists did interactive work with the children, giving them the task of answering the King’s question: "Whose fields are these?". Alikhan Zeinolla, Talgat Allabirinov took the stage as the Marquis. At certain points they had to jump and run around the stage like children, while also singing, and they easily took high and low notes. The roles of the Oldest Son of the Miller (Ardak Tolepbergen) and the Middle Son of the Miller (Merei Kadyrkhanov, Khaidar Mustapin) were very worthily presented by young artists.
Valeriy Selivanov skillfully portrayed the King. His low voice and the ability to keep a royal bearing left no doubts that he is a real ruler even for a minute. The audience enjoyed the performance of the Ogre - Zhandarbek Yerkinbayev. His unusual costume, consisting of huge claws, made a great impression on the children. The Honored Worker of Kazakhstan Zhamilya Jarkimbayeva, Yelena Ganzha and Ulpan Aubakirova, fully immersed in childhood, presented the gentle Princess.
The artists of the Astana Opera Children’s Choir were on a par with their adult colleagues. The young singers showed top performance in vocal skills and stage movement. They were truly organic, lively, and their peers in the hall watched them with enchanted expressions. This is the great merit of the head of the children’s choir Altynganym Akhmetova.
The orchestra and choir under the baton of the music director and conductor of the performance Elmar Buribayev quickly mastered the rich material. The music literally poured from the sheet of the score into the hall, conveying the composer’s bright colors and rhythmic energy to the audience. It is worth emphasizing that the new musical version for the opera was arranged by the Astana Opera’s music editor, winner of the Republican competitions Alikhan Idrissov.
I edited the old clavier: previously the overture was written for piano four hands, and I remade it for two hands, and thus greatly simplified the playing. In addition, I created my own introduction to the first scene and orchestrated the entire opera for a chamber orchestra. The music of this fairytale opera is very expressive, and children are happy to figure out each of the heroes of the opera written into it," Alikhan Idrissov said.
The production turned out to be really bright thanks to the mischievous stylization of the old-style costumes of the Princess, the King and the courtiers. The costume designer Dariga Taishikova skillfully put it all together. It seems to be an old picture book, but it was also quite modern. The special atmosphere of both cinema and cartoon was created by modern video projections by Azamat Kuttyguzhin, soft lighting by lighting designer Sergei Kulak, and transforming sets by Malika Tulegenova.
Soft and hard scenery and, of course, a variety of props were used for the production of Puss in Boots. However, since the Kulyash Baiseitova Chamber Hall stage is small and does not allow making cardinal set changes, we used video projections that transferred the audience from one location to another. Thus, children and adults traveled from the miller’s house to the castle of Carabas, from green gardens to wide open fields. And the transforming sets made it possible to "turn" the bed into the throne of the king," set designer Malika Tulegenova said.
The most important assessment of the new production was the reaction of the little viewers. They were so fascinated by the character portrayals and the artists’ live creative work, they even got up from their seats during the performance to be at least a little closer to the stage. It is important to note that the premiere was held with the support of the Ministry of Culture and Sports of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The opera company director Honored Worker of Kazakhstan Azamat Zheltyrguzov, the technical director of the project Victor Carare, the project manager Marzhan Zhakenova worked on the production. The opera house’s creative staff and the entire production team carried out a wonderful project that resonated with the pure and kind hearts of the children.
However, the surprises for the young audience did not end there. A big exhibition of theatrical costumes for children, drawings and handicrafts of pupils of the Astana Opera Theatrical Crafts Studio awaited them in the Kulyash Baiseitova Chamber Hall foyer. And it seemed that the children were in no hurry to go home, as the opera house impressed them and carried them into its boundless world of creativity and high art.
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