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From May 25 to June 10, the premiere performances of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin are taking place with great success at the Ljubljana Slovene National Theatre Opera and Ballet. Maestro Alan Buribayev, the Astana Opera’s principal conductor, is at the helm of the production, Astana Opera press office reports.
Maestro Buribayev, you have already worked on Eugene Onegin at the Bolshoi Theatre and at the Astana Opera. Next season you will be working on this opera in Helsinki, at the Finnish National Opera and Ballet. What are the special features of this new production in Ljubljana?
- You know, amazingly, every time I have a feeling of freshness and versatility of this work, and the fact that it always surprises me with something completely new, it would seem, in such a work that I know by heart. After the fascinating productions that I conducted, by the iconic stage directors Tcherniakov or Livermore, I was wondering what opinion the famous European director Vinko Möderndorfer, who staged this production, had on this work. He is an international film director whose movies are shown and receive awards at the Cannes and Venice Film Festivals, at the Berlinale, at festivals in Montreal, Montpellier and others. In addition, he is a playwright, author of 9 novels and 24 plays. His books have been published in different world languages. His take on Eugene Onegin is one of the most dramatic I have ever seen. For him, this work is full of the strongest passions, almost driving the main characters insane. At the same time, I worked hard to ensure that all subtexts and nuances in intonations were conveyed as clearly as possible. The artists responded with interest, the choir moved and danced a lot, and in the orchestra I tried to bring out as many colors as possible in this magical score. The ballet in Rosana Hribar’s choreography was also the highlight of the performance. Her solution to the popular polonaise from the third act is interesting, in which the entire backstory of Eugene Onegin is told in the language of choreography.
This is not your first time conducting in Slovenia. Was it symphonic music that you have performed there before?
- Yes, I conducted in Ljubljana for the first time as a very young man. I remember my debut with Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks with the excellent Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra very well. In subsequent years, I have conducted at the Philharmonic, and now I made my debut at the opera house with Eugene Onegin. Ljubljana is an interesting place, in my opinion, just a paradise for a person involved in art. It is here at every turn. A stone’s throw from the opera there are two museums: of modern art and classical painting. The city center is crossed by the street named after Beethoven, who was associated with the Philharmonic, which has existed here since 1701. On my way to the opera house I always pass and mentally greet the monument of Gustav Mahler, gazing at the river. Mahler worked for some time in Ljubljana, and Slovenes reverently honor his memory. Incidentally, Mahler conducted the performance of Eugene Onegin, which was attended by Tchaikovsky himself, and Pyotr Ilyich then called him brilliant. I was very pleased that my professor of conducting, Maestro Uroš Lajovic, under whose guidance I graduated from the Universität für Musik und Darstellende Kunst Wien, came to see me at the premiere. He expressed his approval of my work and gave me his new book on articulation in Beethoven’s symphonies. It is a very specific read, but I am reading it avidly like Conan Doyle’s mystery novel.
What are your plans for the near future?
- In a week I will be conducting in Astana. After working abroad, I am always very drawn to my homeland, to my family, and of course, I look forward to working with my colleagues. On June 16 and 17, the performances of my beloved Don Carlos by Verdi will take place, and on July 12 and 13, Puccini’s no less beloved Turandot. In addition, we will close the anniversary season of the Astana Opera with a grand symphony concert on July 16, where we will perform for the first time the Symphonic Suite from our wonderful national opera Qurmanghazy by Akhmet and Gaziza Zhubanovs. Also, that evening we will perform Antonin Dvořák’s Cello Concerto with the globally renowned cellist Jing Zhao. She and I previously toured together in Japan, and I am glad that she accepted the invitation to perform in Astana. We will end the concert and the anniversary theatrical season with Mahler’s grand Symphony No. 1 "Titan". We have already played his Second, Fifth and Eighth symphonies, and after that it is quite logical to perform the super-original First, to find out "how it all started". I invite everyone!
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