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Culture news
All that glisters...
10.28.2004 14:53

don_juan_rendition By Galina Stolyarova

Staff Writer

A rendition of "Don Juan" by Bulgarian director Alexander Morfov at the Komissarzhevskaya Theater swept five awards at the Golden Sofit proved to be the city's top theatrical awards ceremony this week.

The Golden Sofit was awarded in 15 categories this year. "Don Juan" received prizes for best direction, best large scale production, best sets (Alexander Orlov), best costumes (Irina Cherednikova) and best ensemble (Alexander Bargman and Vladimir Bogdanov).

The Golden Sofit was established ten years ago. Its jury's decisions, which are notoriously conservative, sometimes elicit mixed recations. Often the choice of winners for the local prize clashes with those made when awarding Golden Masks, the top national theater awards.

Alisa Freindlikh took the prize for the best female character for the role of Jester Feste in Grigory Dityatkovsly's staging of Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night."

Freindlikh, the most popular of all nominees owing to her film roles in popular favorites such as Eldar Ryazanov's "Office Romance" received her prize with a short and bitter speech.

"This production has been slagged off by so many people that I regard this prize as some kind of apologetic gesture," she said. "And I am pleased to announce that we have been brave enough to continue developing and growing within this show, despite all the flack."

Dityatkovsky's "Twelfth Night" was perhaps the most controversial item on the Golden Sofit menu. While strongly criticized for being tedious by a number of reviewers, it was praised for depth and sophistication by others.

"The audience often leaves during the interval so it is definitely not a popular production," said theater critic Tatyana Troyanskaya of the local office of Ekho Moskvy radio. "The major problem with this show, in my opinion, is that it is lacks the cheerful, Christmas mood created by Shakespeare."

In the best director category, Dityatkovsky competed with Alexander Morfov, responsible for "Don Juan" at the Komissarzhevskaya Theater and Andrei Moguchy, director of "Pro Turandot" at Priyut Komedianta Theater.

The jury's torments over the best director award were best reflected by an excerpted scene staged before the announcement. The Bolshoi Drama Theater actor Sergei Losev portrayed Agafia Tikhonovna, the main character in Gogol's "Marriage" with convincing restlessness. In quoting the play sly references were made: "Oh, one is so intellectual," the character says - a reference to Dityatkovsky - "but the other one has got a stunning imagination," - Morfov - "the third candidate captivates with his hot temperament," - Moguchy. The jury voted for the imagination.

Prominent theater critic Tatyana Tkach pointed out that, typically for the Golden Sofit, political decisions are often interwoven with artistic ones.

"Alexander Morfov's win is obvious, and can't be questioned," she said. "But placing Moguchy's 'Pro Turandot' in the chamber stage category when it is not a small-stage production, was obviously a trick to give him a prize, because in the large-stage category 'Don Juan' was the undoubted favorite."

Morfov's impressive haul is a vote of confidence from the local theatrical elite. The director became principal director of the Komissarzhevskaya Drama Theater this fall.

As usual, the Golden Sofit awards recognized milestones in the theater world this year.

Alisa Freindlikh celebrates her 70th birthday in December, and the Akimov Comedy Theater turns 75 this year - giving the theater's Mikhail Razumovsky the prize for the best actor was seen by some experts as a tribute to the anniversary.

Other decisions left some scratching their heads.

"The Puppet theater Potudan received an award for the best show but this particular production was produced without puppets," Tkach said. "This decision was nonsense."

The Mariinsky Theater took a number of prizes in the musical theater category (which includes opera and ballet). The best conductor category, which is routinely given to the Mariinsky's artistic director Valery Gergiev, was removed this year - perhaps because it has become inevitable who will win it. Nonetheless Gergiev received a special prize for outstanding artistic achievement for restoring Wagner's entire Ring Cycle to the Russian repertoire.

Yury Alexandrov triumphed as the best director with his take on Shostakovich's "The Nose," at the Mariinsky, while designer Zinovy Margolin got a prize for the best sets. Alexandrov faced little competition. His only rival was Japanese director Ennosuke Ichikawa with a production of Rimsky-Korsakov's "The Golden Cockerel," also at the Mariinsky.

The Mariinsky's "Tribute to Balanchine" was named best ballet production. The best ballet role, however, found its recipient outside the Mariinsky Theater. Roman Mikhalyov of the Mussorgsky Opera and Ballet Theater won for his performance as Raskonikov in Grigory Kovtun's ballet "St. Petersburg Dreams."

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