National Academic Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theater
Each of the troupes – ballet and opera – deserves a special mention.
The hallmarks of the Minsk ballet are Carmen Suite, Creation of the World, Spartacus, Carmina Burana, Bolero,Romeo and Juliet with choreography and staging from Valentin Yelizariev. Although on stage for several decades, they remain up-to-date. We also recommend Jiri Kylian’s Six Dances – an incredibly funny interpretation of the classics. Metamorphoses and Waiting Room on the theater’s experimental stage are definitely a pleasure to watch – only that these dance shows are very seldom.
The Opera’s playbill is dominated by classical pieces by Italian and Russian composers of the 19th century. Last year, Minsk Opera premiered P. Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman for the first time in 35 years to mark 200 years since composer’s birthday.
Interpretations of Opera classics in Minsk are somewhat traditional. Unlike in Europe and Russia, local directors rarely allow themselves to draw parallels with the contemporary reality – with some of exceptions, though. For instance, in Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera The Snow Maiden, the scene is set virtually in the cosmic space. Against all possible opera clichés, the main character in Prince Igor is portrayed as a mediocre politician who is to blame for the defeat of his troops rather than as a hero. In Puccini’s Turandot, the medieval oriental despotic rule brings about associations with the 20th century. In Verdi’s Nabucco, the elimination of Jews by Babylonians is compared to the Holocaust during the World War II.
As for the operas composed by Belarusians, we recommend King Stach’s Wild Hunt – although it is rarely performed. Popular comic operas The Bear, Rita, or The Pirate Triangle are performed on the theater’s small stage. One-act operas First the Music and then the Words by Salieri and The Impresario by Mozart are united into one performance, which revives the atmosphere of the opera competition in Vienna. Salieri and Mozart composed these operas for that competition in the 18th century.
Operas, performed on the big stage, are sung in the original language. Those on the small stage are sung in Russian, according to the old Soviet tradition. Surtitles are used to translate the lyrics from foreign languages into Russian and vice versa – to translate the lyrics and dialogues of few Russian-language and Belarusian-language operas into English.