On Friday, October, 9, a presentation of the outstanding opera project "Fidelio" was held in Perm Opera House. The idea of the creators of the project is to make a site-specific production of the opera in the former political camp "Perm 36" with its premiere just before the "Pilorama" festival.
The production of the Beethoven's only opera "Fidelio" in Perm 36 will be guided by an international team. George Isaakyan, Artistic Director of Perm Opera House, will be Artistic Director of the project, the chief Conductor of the theatre, Valery Platonov, will be handling the musical aspect of the production. They will be joined by director Michael Hunt and scene-designer Charlotte Skene Catling, both from Great Britain. Also, it is planned to attract Russian and Perm artists to the project to create a number of installations with the idea of freedom conveyed.
Each performance will welcome only 250 spectators (which is the exact number of prisoners held in each of the barracks). This will allow the entire audience to move around the site and to access some of the internal spaces of the camp. Each performance will require over 600 performers - musicians, actors, sound and lighting men, daymen etc.
The members of the audience will be placed into the context of the camp even before the actual beginning of the performance: during their journey to camp they will be controlled by the guards and later, upon their arrival to the venue, searched at the check-point. The first act will begin in the Residential Zone of the camp and finish in the Industrial Zone. After the interval, the audience is to walk to the secret Special Section. This is some 500 metres from the main camp and will form the venue for the second act of the opera.
"We are not going to use the site as a conventional theatrical space for the production, - say the creators. - "It's not going to be an excursion. The audience will be moved around the camp going through its barracks and cells". Therefore the audience will be brought the whole experience of the camp differently and opera "Fidelio" is the best-suited piece to achieve that.
The dramatic story of Leonora, who disguises herself as a guard and rescues her husband Florestan from death in political prison describes the descent into the darkness, both literal and moral, of the prison and re-emergence into the light of freedom and love. This work of Beethoven, glorifying the triumph of freedom over tyranny, resonates in large measure with the experiences of those individuals who were imprisoned at Perm 36. According to the production team, this approach will open up the piece the piece as a reflection on the past, and a warning for the future.
"I am not an Englishman who wants to show you your history. I am a director who wants to show you my interpretation of the great Beethoven's opera about love and freedom", - says Michael Hunt.
According to George Isaakyan, this project has all chances to become a significant cultural event in the world and "Fidelio" will continue its examination and attempts to place the Gulag experience on other European showcases.