The Milan theater decided to keep Mussorgsky’s opera despite requests from Ukraine to change the poster
The opening of the opera season this Wednesday at La Scala in Milan proves once again why it is one of the most important annual events in the opera world. Despite the fact that the invasion of Ukraine caused a wave of “Russophobia” in the West, the famous theater has demonstrated its independence by retaining its choice of a Russian work for this “prime”, the emblematic start of the new opera season that brings together the most important figures of Italian politics and culture. This is the opera ‘Boris Godunov’, a story about the power struggle in the Russian Empire, written by the composer Modest Petrovic Musorgsky who adapted the work of Alexander Pushkin to the text. The protagonist of the libretto is the Russian baritone Ildar Abdrazakov, while the musical direction is provided by Riccardo Chailly and the set design by Kasper Holten.
“I will sing in my language and I am the happiest interpreter in the world,” said Abdrazakov a few days ago, taking part in his sixth evening of Saint Ambrose, patron saint of Milan. Without wanting to get into political gardens, Abdrazakov thanked those in charge at La Scala for not giving in to the pressure to keep Russian works on a shelf, as other theaters have done. This is what the Ukrainian consul in Milan, Andrii Kartysh, unsuccessfully requested, who even launched a collection of signatures over the Internet to change the program “because culture is used by the Russian Federation to give weight to its claim of its greatness and power ” .
Riccardo Chailly acknowledged that in “Boris Godunov” it will be possible to reflect on the “dizziness of power”, but he made it clear that the election has nothing to do with the current political situation: it comes from 2018, when he coincided with Abdrazakov in the performance of ‘Attila’, which opened the opera season that year. It was the baritone who brought him some sheet music and so both outlined the idea of getting rid of ‘Boris Godunov’ in the future. “It is an absolute masterpiece, a milestone of art and not only of poetry, a legacy of humanity. It would be inconceivable that we would not bring a project like this, which we have been thinking about for years, to a successful conclusion,” explains the conductor. He asked not to mix this “bounty” with “the international political situation and the Russian-Ukrainian conflict”.
The superintendent of La Scala, Dominique Meyer, who decided a week after the start of the Russian invasion to do without Russian director Valeri Guérguiev, who was to direct ‘The Queen of Spades’, because he did not speak out against the war, claimed also the right to read Dostoyevsky or Pushkin “without hiding”. Aside from the war situation, he invited those in attendance to look at the play’s script, which “makes you think by showing that having absolute power doesn’t necessarily make you happy.” For Meyer, it’s a “reading key” that comes out very clearly in a scene, when the protagonist, Tsar Boris, shows his son the vast expanse of Russia on a map. “When I see the kid, I wonder how he’s going to control all those cities. It will be a force that you can only exert on paper. That is why many wars fought to this day make no sense.
In the royal box of La Scala, on the occasion of the ‘prima’, there will be a fabulous concentration of authorities. In addition to the Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, there are the Head of State, Sergio Mattarella, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen. After the show, the famous gala dinner will take place, which has not been held in recent years due to the restrictions due to the corona virus.
Source: La Verdad