A crying shame
Ruslan and Ludmila is one Russia`s most popular operas, but premiering on the brand-new stage of the Bolshoi, it received a mixed reaction, with some screaming "Shame!" and others "Bravo!"
ґGlinka`s best-known opera has been performed over 700 times and boasts at least nine different stage versions. The latest, put together by the daring Dmitry Tchernyakov, has caused a furore.
The classic production has been given a radical facelift, but it seems the audience didn`t expect the cutting-edge director to go to such extremes as transferring some scenes of the fairytale love story to a wacky brothel.
And even the most advanced aficionados were surprised at the director`s next flight of fancy: the lead character, Ludmila, being treated to a Thai massage.
Erotic dances, naked bodies and ambiguous hints climaxed in the closing scene, where Ludmila is given a "magic injection" to help bring her back to her senses. After the heroine`s strange convulsions, the audience naturally wondered: "Was it an overdose?"
Only a strong dose of humor could possibly have redeemed the kitsch of this Ruslan and Ludmila, but sadly, there was no sign of sarcasm.
Fuel was added to the fire when one of the leading ladies, singer Elena Zaremba, fell and broke her arm. She had to finish the show under anesthesia, with no other actor there to stand in. Naina`s part had also been rehearsed by one of Russia`s most celebrated opera divas, Elena Obraztsova, but the singer reportedly pulled out due to differences with the stage director. This means Zaremba will have to continue performing - cased in plaster.
As the singers and audiences try to get used to each other, the performance`s best part is so far probably played by the orchestra. Conducted by Vladimir Yurovsky, Chernomor`s famous March is energetic, fast and furious indeed.
(Image from ridus.ru)