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    Sing in the joy of one // Perm Opera and Ballet Theater opened the 151st season of “La Traviata”

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    Starting the fourth season without the main myth-maker and past genius of the place Teodor Currentzis and his spectacular projects, the Perm Opera and Ballet Theater is trying to talk about the formation of a new identity. The inaugural evening with a concert performance of Verdi’s La Traviata, led by the new chief conductor Migran Aghajanyan and prima Nadezhda Pavlova, faithful to her troupe, can serve as a tuning fork for the further development of the theater, Tatyana Belova is sure.

    Agadzhanyan took over the musical direction of the Perm Opera House suddenly, having received it last spring in addition to the planned premiere of Norma. The debut in Perm turned out to be successful: in his “Norma” one could hear both a warlike spirit and sentimentality, due to the plot, but also careful work with the actual design of the score. The orchestra groups now entered into a frantic argument, then united in heroic enthusiasm. And although the conductor could not always subjugate the soloists, even then it became obvious that love and interest in bel canto for Agadzhanyan were not empty declarations. His Bellini turned out to be quite a modern-minded composer, heard simultaneously from a post-Wagnerian critical position and from a historically informed position. Agadzhanyan interprets La Traviata in the same way – without a doubt, one of the main pillars of the modern repertoire, but to the same extent one of the main treasures of his time.

    The concert performance is ideal format in order to reveal this treasure, and this time the control over all elements of the performance was complete. Agadzhanian trusts Verdi, checking his writing with the help of rich details and extremely emotional performance, which he seeks from the troupe. And if Bellini’s picture of the world excites the conductor much more than private intrigues, he hears Verdi as a composer extremely focused on the personal fate of the title character. tempo contrasts. The world is spinning at breakneck speed with ballroom whirlwinds, card games, carnival dances, petty interests of aristocrats and philistines. Violetta exists in its center measuredly and with dignity, the slow pace in her solo statements emphasizes the solidity of her reflections. Her joys and sorrows are her conscious choice, she does not give in to other people’s influence. Neither the boy Alfred, naive in his enduring enthusiasm (the sonorous Karlen Manukyan, a guest from neighboring Yekaterinburg), nor his smugly well-fed father (the metropolitan star Vasily Ladyuk, who confidently worked out the role of a philistine), nor the barons-marquises-viscounts have power over her. Nadezhda Pavlova, who has played many Violettas in very different performances, turned them all into one, almost standard – both in image and vocal dressing, and a slightly muffled timbre gives her coloratura additional weight.

    Together with Agadzhanyan, Violetta Pavlova makes a journey in search of joy. Repeatedly repeated by Violetta, the word “gioia” (“joy”) in their interpretation is akin to divine light, to be aware of it is a sacred duty. And in the aria of the first act, naturally, there is no painful choice between the fun of the ferris wheel of Parisian life and the modest happiness of mutual love. Although at first such a reading seems surprising, in the dramatic finale of the second act and in the sad third, both Pavlov and Agadzhanyan are convinced of its correctness. “I must always flutter freely from joy to joy” is not a hysteria, but a manifesto, and Violetta follows it, accepting both Alfred’s love as a joy, and the need to leave him as a step towards another joy: the joy of self-sacrifice, the joy of knowing divine mercy. And the joy of being yourself to the end, not giving up and not yielding in anything. It is no coincidence that Violetta dies with the word “Joy!” on the lips, leaving the earthly world to spin all at the same frantic speed. Verdi’s impetuous cadenza under a rapidly falling curtain has never been so appropriate.

    The dramatic tension that Agadzhanyan builds, rhyming and directly correlating Violetta’s reflections on joy from the first act to the third, sharpens the melodic and rhythmic rhymes of both two balls and two duets with Alfred. The guest choirs are performed at a tempo when the words become almost indistinguishable: these are unimportant circumstances. The underlined polyrhythm of the final ensemble, where Verdi separates Violetta from the rest of the participants, is inscribed by Agadzhanyan into the overall musical logic: Violetta always lives and feels apart. At the same time, the scrupulous workmanship of small details does not interfere with the construction of a large single form – short chords of the otherworldly, which arise in the orchestra among everyday conversations, remain dots without blurring into blots, the strokes of the strings are clear and complete, the contrasting tempos and intonations are distinct, but they do without bold

    Opening the new season of La Traviata, where the title character consistently defends herself and her choice, breaking with her past life and moving forward, the leadership of the Perm Opera is actually making a policy statement. Five premieres are scheduled for the 2022/23 season: Bartok’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle (staged by Yevgeny Safonov, Fyodor Lednev conducts), The Flying Dutchman (Konstantin Bogomolov and Philipp Chizhevsky are working on the Wagner score), Verdi’s Masquerade Ball ( Migran Agadzhanyan and Roman Feodori with their production team), Raymonda (the ballet classics will be rethought by Anton Pimonov and Alona Pikalova) and an evening of world ballet premieres from Vyacheslav Samodurov, Maxim Sevagin and Anton Pimonov. The rest of the repertoire will be made up of performances that were released on the Perm stage during the last two seasons. Spectators will have to fly from Bogomolov to Safonova, from Grigoryan to Feodori, from Barkhatov to Nastavshevs. The era of Currentzis is finally declared gone. Oh joy?

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