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Famed Bolshoi returns to Japan

by Chiho Iuchi

The Bolshoi Opera will come back to Japan in June for the first time in 14 years.

The Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, which originated in 1776 and whose current building was completed in 1825, holds some of the most respected performances of ballet and opera in the world.

Struggling through the changing conditions in politics and economics after the breakdown of the Soviet Union in 1991, the theater regained its status as Russia’s temple of performing arts in the 21st century, with governmental financial backing as well as corporate sponsorship.

The upcoming Japan tour will feature new productions of two renowned Russian operas, both composed by Russian Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893), based on works written by the country’s poet Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837).

“The Queen of Spades,” which tells of a tragic gamble of poor officer Hermann on his ambitious love for the countess’ daughter Lisa, will be performed under the baton of Russian pianist and conductor Mikhail Pletnev under the direction of Valery Fokin, a leading figure of the country’s theater scene.

“Evgeny Onegin,” which depicts an unaccomplished love between nihilistic urban playboy Onegin and naive country girl Tatiana, will be directed by emerging talent Dmitry Chernikov and conducted by the theater’s music director, Alexander Vedernikov.

Featured singers include rising baritone Vasily Ladyuk and young sopranos Tatiana Monogarova, Ekaterina Shcherbachenko and Elena Popovskaja, as well as internationally famed dramatic tenor Vladimir Galouzine and veteran mezzo soprano Elena Obraztova.

“The Queen of Spades” takes place at the NHK Hall in Shibuya on June 19 (6:30 p.m.) and June 20, 21 (2 p.m.); and “Evgeny Onegin” at the Tokyo Bunka Kaikan in Ueno on June 24-26 (6:30 p.m.). Ticket prices range from ¥10,000 to ¥42,000. Call Japan Arts Pia (03) 5237-7711 or visit www.japanarts.co.jp/