The Mikhailovsky Theatre will commemorate its upcoming premiere of Bizet’s opera to the best performer of Carmen ever, Elena Obraztsova. The performance will be staged in November of this year. Conductor Dmitri Jurowski and director Andriy Zholdak are currently working on the production.
News of the production was announced on Russian TV station Channel One by General Director of the Mikhailovsky Theatre Vladimir Kekhman on the day the great singer’s death was announced. “The upcoming premiere of Carmen will be in memory of Elena Obraztsova, whose passing is an irretrievable loss for the entire operatic world”, the theatre director said. “She had a very close relationship with singers, showing them affection and discovering many of the stars who today grace stages the world over. She will live on in our memory as someone who was unbelievably beautiful, gentle, and passionate about her profession.”
Elena Obraztsova’s Carmen was considered a landmark performance all over the world. In one interview the singer recalled how her Carmen was born in March 1972 in Spain, in the Prez Galds Theatre on the island of Gran Canaria: “I thought I would never sing Carmen; I just assumed it wasn’t my role. When I performed her for the first time, I was genuinely making my debut. I no longer felt like a performer; it was as if I could feel Carmen’s soul inside me.”
After a triumphant performance at the Liceu Theatre in Barcelona in 1974, Spanish critics wrote that “Obraztsova’s Carmen depicted all the complexity and psychological depth of the character” and called her “the most sophisticated and faithful expression of Bizet’s artistic construct”. The Russian singer was soon recognized as the best performer in the role of Carmen, and she played the part on the world’s most prestigious stages.
Elena Obraztsova’s passing is an irretrievable loss and a great tragedy for our theatre. She headed the opera company in 2007–2008, and remained an advisor to the General Director right up to the last days of her life. “We will remember her as being full of life and always prepared to generously share her experience and skill”, said Vladimir Kekhman. “She did a phenomenal amount. The creative heights the Mikhailovksy Theatre has reached would barely have been possible without her. I would like to thank her for everything: for her sincerity and trust, for her self-sacrificing work with young singers, and for the joy she gave to her art.”
The opera company’s soloists have been looking back on their work with Elena Obraztsova with great affection. People’s Artist of Russia Nikolay Kopylov said: “I’ve been performing at the Mikhailovsky Theatre for 33 years, and in all that time I’ve never had such a complete mutual understanding with any other partner. It was Elena Obraztsova’s absolute naturalness that set her apart; her arrival on stage gave all the performers a sense of freedom and flight.”
Maria Litke sees herself as Obraztsova’s “granddaughter” from their parts in Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades: “I had the opportunity to sing the part of Liza in many performances where Elena Obraztsova was playing the Countess. Before performances she could dissipate any excess tension with her famous jokes and perfectly set the atmosphere, so that when we walked out on stage, it felt natural, without any artificiality. And while she had an unassuming demeanour away from the stage, she truly dominated during performances.”
News source: The St. Petersburg Mussorgsky State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre
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