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“Zazerkalye” (that means "Beyond the Looking Glass") State Musical theatre for Children has been opened in 1987. It has been created on the initiative of the director A. Petrov and the conductor P. Bubelnikov on the basis of the "Musical Theatre Actor" course at the Leningrad City Institute of Theatre, Music and Cinema.
"Zazerkalye" is a musical theatre. It is peculiar for its light and undistorted approach to art, kindred to the paradoxical spirit of "Alice in Wonderland" or to Mozart's childish lightness. The plays are always directed towards the child in every one of us. But they also address the wisdom and maturity that is present in every child. The theatre's musicality is many-sided. It transcends every play and finds itself not only in the sound of the orchestra and the actors' singing, but also in their every dance movement, gesture or arabesque, in every prosaic dialogue, in the visual art of scenery and costume-making.
Over its nine-year period of existence, the theatre has staged more than 20 plays. The theatre uses the works of generally accepted masters, like J.S. Bach, Mozart, Donizetti, Shostakovich and Stravinsky, and also of our contemporaries, like Banevich, Petrova, Vysotsky, Rogalev, Podheitz. The creation of author's plays based on great masterpieces of world literature and instrumental music (like Chaikovsky's "Children's Album", "The Shepherd and the Chimney-sweep" and "Christmas Mystery" based on J.S. Bach's music), is the theatre's specialty.
"Zazerkalye" has a steady reputation of one of St. Petersburg's most visited theatres. Its plays have been awarded at numerous festivals and contests. "The Snuff-box City" by S. Banevich, "Children's Album" by P.I Chaikovsky, "Noah's Ark" by B. Britten and "Finist the Bright-eyed Falcon" by I. Rogalev were awarded the Association of Theatre Workers of the Russian Federation prize in the "best play of the year" nomination.
One of the theatre's last stagings is an opera by Gaetano Donizetti titled "Love Potion" that has not been staged in opera theatres for over 30 years. It has been awarded the 1996 Golden Sophite, the highest award of the Association of Theatre Workers of St. Petersburg in three nominations: "best directing" (A.V. Petrov), "best conducting" (P.A. Bubelnikov) and "best female vocal part" (O.A. Pchelintseva). In 1997 E. Akimov has received the Golden Mask theatre award for his role of Nemorino in the same play.
In 1996 artistic director A. Petrov and chief conductor P. Bubelnikov became laureates of the St. Petersburg Government prize for unique contributions to the development of children's opera art.
The theatre's yearly tours to Moscow (1989-1993), its participation in national and international festivals (Orenburg 1991, Pskov 1992, Samara 1995, Kostomuksha 1996) have always been highly evaluated by public and the media. In 1993 the theatre's troupe has visited Lubeck, Germany while the city was celebrating its 850th anniversary. During the same year the theatre has carried out a staging of G. Menotti's opera "The Medium" in co-operation with the Boston Operafest troupe, performed in the U.S. and in St. Petersburg, on the stage of the Hermitage theatre.
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