Sunday, 11 October 2009

Mariinsky Nutcracker / Iolanta WMC

The crowds were inevitably down on last night given that Bryn Terfel was having a night off, which was a shame because the absentees missed another gourmet evening. After last night's concert my expectations were high for the Tchaikovsky evening. After all, the Mariinsky were playing works written, more or less, for their company.

The Nutcracker kicked the evening off in great style, though it has to be said that as wonderful as the music is there are parts when you wish there were dancers on the stage to fill in the lull time. Thankfully the orchestra was again in Rolls Royce form with exemplary playing from the wind section. After two + hours of playing even Gergiev needed a break and took the briefest of applause as he headed off for a munch.

The second part of the evening was a performance of Iolanta a simple little thing but with a few gems that deserve to be more widely known. In the title role Viktoria Yastrebova took a while to get going but the folks around me took to her in droves. As her love thang Sergei Skorokhodov literally got into character as Vaudemont, a Burgundian Count, turning an alarming shade of red as he hit the slopes for his notes. Despite his chameleonesque physiognomy he sang well and hit his most important notes with conviction. Alexei Markov once again stamped his authority with an electrifying aria that brought the house down and a grin from the man himself as he took his seat. He was good and he knew it. He's a superb singer and it's a shame we haven't heard more of him. All three were more than ably supported by an excellent and if you follow this link you'll be taken to a page where you can download the weekend's events and all their names – but Sergei Alexashkin deserves to be singled out for praise as King René.

By the end the clock was nudging eleven pm when the transparent curtain fell (there isn't one) and the applause was just as warm as it had been the first evening. Though the seats emptied around me at a rapid rate of knots this was one Gergiev overrun that I was pleased to have caught, and the man himself seemed to be enjoying himself as he pointed comically towards an imaginary watch as the singers lapped up their well deserved cheers.

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