The theatre is one of Russia’s oldest theatres and a major centre for music. Its official records go back as far as 1870, the date of its first première: Glinka’s opera A Life for the Tsar. In 1926, the theatre staged its first ballet première, Adolphe Adam’s Giselle. The Perm Opera and Ballet Theatre was founded by charitable donations from the citizens of Perm. A large contribution was made by the grandfather of famous impresario Sergei Diaghilev.
The theatre bears the name of Pyotr Tchaikovsky, and over the years, it has staged productions of all of the composer’s operas and ballets. The theatre’s ‘golden reserve’ also includes classic works by Borodin, Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Prokofiev, and Stravinsky. The theatre’s experimental productions and its work with both classical and contemporary material since the mid-twentieth century have won it renown as an ‘opera laboratory’. The theatre has staged the Russian premières of such operas as Edison Denisov’s The Foam of Days, Jules Massenet’s Cléopâtre, Rodion Shchedrin’s Lolita, George Handel’s Alcina, Claudio Monteverdi’s Orfeo, Alexander Tchaikovsky’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, and Pascal Dusapin’s Medeamaterial.
The heyday of the Perm Opera is associated with masterful directors such as Nikolay Bogolyubov, Iosif Keller, Emil Pasynkov, and Georgy Isaakyan.
Perm is known as Russia’s third ballet Mecca, after Moscow and St. Petersburg. A renowned school of choreography operates alongside the theatre’s academic ballet company. A great influence on the development of Perm as a centre of opera and ballet was the evacuation of the Kirov Theatre (now the Mariinsky Theatre) to the city from 1941 to 1944. The arrival of the Leningrad Choreographic School led to the opening of the Perm Ballet School, which has earned international repute. For over fifty years, the Perm Ballet has been the focus of constant attention from a wide audience. The uniform performance style of the soloists and the corps de ballet is a characteristic of the Perm company.
The Perm Opera and Ballet Theatre has won the Golden Mask National Theatre Award on several occasions. In 2013, the theatre garnered a record 17 nominations for Russia’s most important national theatre prize and was awarded four Golden Masks (also a record).
The theatre organizes the International Diaghilev Festival (named after the famous impresario Sergei Diaghilev, founder of the Ballets Russes, who was a native of Perm) and the Ekaterina Maximova Arabesque Ballet Competition.
Since 2009, the ballet company has been directed by choreographer Alexey Miroshnichenko. Under his guidance, the Perm repertoire ably combines classical productions and ballets by contemporary choreographers.
In 2011, Teodor Currentzis was appointed as the theatre’s Artistic Director, and his musical projects have once again made Perm a centre of universal attention. Audiences in Perm have the opportunity to see ballets by William Forsythe, Jiří Kylián and Kenneth MacMillan, and opera productions by Philipp Himmelmann and Andrejs Žagars. New works composed specially for the Perm Theatre include Vladimir Nikolayev’s ballet Gereven and the opera Nosferatu by Dmitry Kurlyandsky, which is due to première in 2014.
As part of one of the theatre’s major projects (A Mozart Trilogy – Da Ponte in Perm), director Matthias Remus staged his version of Cosi fan tutte in 2011; in 2012, Philipp Himmelmann directed Le nozze di Figaro (a joint production with the Festspielhaus in Baden-Baden); and in 2014, Peter Sellars will stage Don Giovanni (in conjunction with the Madrid Opera). All three of these renowned operas, co-created by a great composer and a great librettist, will be staged in the same theatre for the first time in Russia and will feature top international soloists.
During the 2012/2013 season, Teodor Currentzis conducted recordings of two Mozart operas for the Sony Classical label, the leading European recording studio – Cosi fan tutte and Le nozze di Figaro – which feature the MusicAeterna Orchestra and Choir and an international line-up of soloists led by opera diva Simone Kermes.
The Perm Theatre remains a major Russian centre of opera and ballet, where the quality of the musical performance is paramount.
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