Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



Plumbago_9780993198359_1.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Commentary

Bampton Classical Opera to perform Gian Carlo Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors

Gian Carlo Menotti’s much-loved Christmas opera, Amahl and the Night Visitors was commissioned in America by the National Broadcasting Company and was broadcast in 1951 - the first-ever opera composed specifically for television. Menotti said that it “is an opera for children because it tries to recapture my own childhood”.

Kings College, Cambridge launches as curator on Apple Music

November 5, 2018, Los Angeles, CA: Today, King’s College Cambridge announces the launch of the College as a curator on Apple Music.

Royal Opera House’s Music Director Sir Antonio Pappano extends tenure to 2023

Sir Antonio Pappano, Music Director of the Royal Opera House, has confirmed that he will remain in position until at least the end of the 2022/23 Season.

Boston Early Music Festival Chamber Opera to Present Caccini’s Alcina

The GRAMMY-Winning Boston Early Music Festival Chamber Opera Series presents Francesca Caccini’s Alcina on Thanksgiving weekend – November 24 & 25 in Boston and November 26 & 27 in New York City

The Royal Opera House lets everyone in on the act

The Royal Opera House today opens the doors to its transformed new home, following an extensive three-year construction project.

Two of Garsington Opera's 2018 productions to reach a wider audience

Garsington Opera is delighted to announce that on Saturday 6 October, BBC Radio 3’s ‘Opera on 3’, will broadcast the production of its first festival world premiere - The Skating Rink by David Sawer set to a libretto by Rory Mullarkey based on a novel by Chilean author Roberto Bolaño.

Remembering and Representing Dido, Queen of Carthage: an interview with Thomas Guthrie

The first two instalments of the Academy of Ancient Music’s ‘Purcell trilogy’ at the Barbican Hall have posed plentiful questions - creative, cultural and political.

Bampton Classical Opera Goes to the Ball

I wonder if Cinderella realised that when she found her Prince she would also find international fame, becoming not just a Princess but also a global celebrity and icon. The glass slipper, placed loving on her shapely foot, has graced theatres, variety halls, cinema screens and opera houses - even postage stamps - and the perennial popularity of this rags-to-riches fairy-tale, in which innocence and goodness triumph over injustice and oppression, shows no signs of waning.

Glyndebourne announces new Artistic Director

Stephen Langridge has been appointed Artistic Director of Glyndebourne. Stephen is currently Director for Opera and Drama at Gothenburg Opera, Sweden, a role he has occupied for five years. He will take up his new role at Glyndebourne in spring 2019.

Beyond Gilbert and Sullivan: Edward Loder’s Raymond and Agnes and the Apotheosis of English Romantic Opera

Mention ‘nineteenth-century English opera’ to most people, and they will immediately think ‘Gilbert and Sullivan’. If they really know their Gilbert and Sullivan, they’ll probably remember that Sullivan always wanted to compose more serious operas, but that Gilbert resisted this, believing they should ‘stick to their last’: light, comic, tuneful satire.

Mascagni's Isabeau at Opera Holland Park: in conversation with David Butt Philip

Opera directors are used to thinking their way out of theatrical, dramaturgical and musico-dramatic conundrums, but one of the more unusual challenges must be how to stage the spectacle of a young princess’s naked horseback-ride through the streets of a city.

The Moderate Soprano : Q&A with Nancy Carroll and Roger Allam

Nancy Carroll and Roger Allam play Audrey Mildmay and John Christie in David Hare’s play The Moderate Soprano which is currently at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London.

Soprano Nadine Sierra Wins the 2018 Beverly Sills Artist Award

Soprano Nadine Sierra has been named the winner of the 13 th annual Beverly Sills Artist Award for young singers at the Metropolitan Opera.

The Grand Tour: A European Journey in Song

The seventeenth Oxford Lieder Festival (12-27 October 2018) will celebrate a rich tapestry of music, words and performance in European song and will showcase the pinnacles of the repertoire while exploring wider cultural influences.

An Interview with Soprano Lisette Oropesa

Lisette Oropesa sings Eurydice in Los Angeles Opera’s French version of Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice that can currently be seen at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

Opera in Amsterdam in 2018-2019

The operatic tradition is not as old in the Netherlands as in other European countries, yet opera is a vital part of the Dutch classical landscape. Both Dutch National Opera & Ballet and the Concertgebouw are in Amsterdam, so the capital gets the lion’s share of the opera on offer.

Lyric Opera of Chicago to Premiere Fellow Travelers—A Preview

On 17 March 2018 Lyric Opera of Chicago will premiere the 2016 opera Fellow Travelers by Gregory Spears (with a libretto by Greg Pierce, based on the novel by Thomas Mallon. Mallon’s 2007 novel offered fresh perspectives on the paranoiac investigations of McCarthy-era Washington, DC, through the lens of a gay relationship.

A newly discovered song by Alma Mahler

It is well known that in addition to the fourteen songs by Alma Mahler published in her lifetime, several dozen more - perhaps as many as one hundred - were written and have been lost or destroyed.

Glyndebourne Opera Cup 2018: semi-finalists announced

The semi-finalists for the first Glyndebourne Opera Cup have been announced. Following a worldwide search that attracted nearly 200 entries, and preliminary rounds in Berlin, London and Philadelphia, 23 singers aged 21-28 have been chosen to compete in the semi-final at Glyndebourne on 22 March.

ENO announces Studio Live casts and three new Harewood Artists

English National Opera (ENO) has announced the casts for Acis and Galatea and Paul Bunyan, 2018’s two ENO Studio Live productions. ENO Studio Live forms part of ENO Outside which takes ENO’s work to arts-engaged audiences that may not have considered opera before, presenting the immense power of opera in more intimate studio and theatre environments.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Commentary

Paata Burchuladze [Photo courtesy of Askonas Holt]
10 Apr 2011

Paata Burchuladze, The Tsar’s Bride, London

“A tale of corruption, passion and poisoning”, as the Royal Opera House, London, describes its first-ever production of Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Tsar’s Bride, with Paata Burchuladze, highly experienced in this repertoire.

An Interview with Paata Burchuladze

Interview by Anne Ozorio

Above: Paata Burchuladze [Photo courtesy of Askonas Holt]

 

“Vasily Stepanovich Sobakin”, says Burchuladze, “is a man who has everything, a big family, all his sons happily settled down. He’s a successful merchant in Novgorod and has plenty of money and security. Now his favourite child, probably his only daughter, is engaged to marry the man she loves. So Sobakin is filled with happiness, everything seems just perfect”.

But Marfa Vasilyevna has been seen by Grigory Gryazanoy, the oprichnik. Since he’s above the law he can get what he wants. Lyubasha, his mistress, then resorts to poison. The Tsar Ivan the Terrible chooses Marfa for his bride. Assaulted by this abuse of authority, Marfa and her lover Lykov are destroyed. “Sobakin’s famous Act IV aria, “Zabylasya”, says Burchuladze, “doesn’t last very long, but it’s very touching. It’s poignant because he is expressing a great range of feelings, sorrow, loss and also, anger. Sobakin is a good man, but in this vendetta, he is capable of killing, too”.

The Tsar’s Bride,(Tsarskaya nevesta) is standard repertoire in Russian-speaking countries. Although it’s set in the time of Ivan the Terrible, he wasn’t the only absolutist ruler Russian audiences would have known. Secret mafias, and the arbitrary misuse of power weren’t a monopoly of the Tsars. Burchuladze grew up in the Soviet Union and recognizes the significance. “This production” he says “isn’t set in the ancient past”. Although there are numerous recordings of this opera, western audiences may not have experienced it live. Perhaps they shouldn’t come expecting decorative “Russianism”, but to hear how Rimsky-Korsakov shapes the drama through his music. The director, Paul Curran, has worked with the Kirov and Mariinsky, and appreciates the context.

Burchuladze made his debut at the Royal Opera House in London as Ramfis in Verdi Aida with Luciano Pavarotti. Katia Ricciarelli and Zubin Mehta. He was a sensation. “What can I tell you about Pavarotti ?”, sighs Burchuladze, with feeling. “He was a big man, his body was big but also his heart. Everything about him, was open and warm. I was only 30 when I sang that Ramfis and he was a huge star but he looked after me. We worked together in Vienna, in the US, many times. Pavarotti was so technically wonderful that there was no limit to his singing. He could open up his whole persona. He was the best person in my life”.

Burchuladze himself is an open-hearted personality. “ I love to sing, I live to sing”, he says. “When you go on a stage, you must enjoy what you are doing, or the public won’t enjoy it. I love to sing roles that I can identify with and express their feelings”. Favourite roles are Attila, Philip II, Mefistofele, Zaccaria in Nabucco....”. His eyes light up as he lists the parts. “I like strong, passionate characters” he smiles, “but I also like buffo, like Don Basilio and wonderful fantasies like Rimsky-Korsakov’s Le Coq d’Or.“ Next season, he’s singing The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh. .

He also has a lot of respect for Boris Gudonov, with whom he’s so closely associated that he’s created the role in nearly every major opera house around the world. “Boris is a good man”, says Burchuladze. “Nobody knows if he killed the Tsarevich. Maybe he just thought about it and his followers did the work. But Boris feels guilt. He feels sorry for what has happened. So many people with that kind of power have no conscience. They kill and hurt people without any responsibility. Boris gets depressed because he knows right from wrong. That’s why he’s a good person”. Similarities with the situation in The Tsar’s Bride are not amiss.

With Pavarotti, Burchuladze recorded Aida (La Scala), Nabucco (Verona), and Ernani (Bonynge, WNO) but his experience is far more extensive. He’s recorded a lot of Mussorgsky, for example, including with Abbado in Vienna. His reputation rests both on Russian and Italian repertoire, and on Mozart. Born in Tblisi, he trained first in the Georgian Conservatoire, and in 1979, aged 24, moved to Milan, where he studied under Guilietta Simionato.

Although Burchuladze’s mother was a keen amateur pianist, he initially studied engineering at University. “I wanted to build things, like my father”, he says. One day, though, he was asked to sing at the conservatoire and suddenly realized that singing would be his future. “Once you get applause on stage, you’re hooked forever!”

Although Tblisi is still his home, he doesn’t teach. “It’s not fair on students” he says, “students need a teacher around all the time, and I’m always travelling, so I couldn’t give them the attention they need”. This steadiness matters a lot to him. As a young man, Herbert von Karajan described Burchuladze as “The Second Chaliapin”. It was a sensation but a mixed blessing. “When one legend compares you to another legend, it’s a lot to carry on your shoulders. People don’t expect you to be yourself”.

Burchuladze models himself on consistency. “I want to be singing for 50 years, so I pace myself. Seven or eight years ago I was singing Zaccaria in Japan. There were two alternate casts and the other singer was Bonaldo Giaiotti. He was 72 years old at the time and still singing one of the most difficult parts for our voice type, and he sang it perfectly. I can’t imagine life without singing, so I want to be like that. By the time I reach 72, I will have had 50 years as a professional. That’s something that would make me very happy”. After The Tsar’s Bride in London, he has a full schedule ahead, including a gala with Plácido Domingo and opera appearances all over the world, so chances are Burchuladze will achieve that dream.


Anne Ozorio

For details of Rimsky-Korakov The Tsar’s Bride at the Royal Opera House, London please see the ROH site. The production runs from 14th April to 2nd May 2011.

For details of Paata Burchuladze’s career, please see his website.

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):