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The voice of Russia: Beethoven in Gulag

The first night of the opera "Fidelio" by Beethoven staged by the Perm Opera and Ballet Theatre is to take place on the grounds of the History of Political Repressions Museum in Perm on the 3d of July. It will be a splendid conclusion of one of the most interesting Russian companies' brilliant season and also, probably, the last work in that theatre of the artistic director Georgy Isaakian.

Georgy Isaakian has been appointed the main producer of a unique company, the Moscow Children's Musical Theatre named after Natalia Sats. He is coming to Moscow at the peak of his fame. Each premiere prepared by him at the theatre of Perm, a town in the Ural Mountains, became a cultural event for the whole country.

For example, the opera "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" based on Solzhenitsin's book of the same name. That performance about the prisoners' life in Stalin camps became the beginning of the theatre's cooperation with the History of Political Repressions Museum "Perm-36". 

"On second thoughts, we decided that performing "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich"  in a real camp will be too much," - Georgy Isaakian told "The Voice of Russia".This is how we came to the idea of staging the opera "Fidelio" in which a brave wife saves her husband, a participant in the French revolution, from prison."

"The camp-museum appeals to people to become a place of cult visiting and understanding the tragic Russian events through emotions, the producer believes. - I think that art can be the only way to overcome this awful national tragedy. Beethoven's music has a universal character. It enables us to speak of a wider problem than Stalin's regime, namely, a problem of freedom and imprisonment."

Together with his British and Irish colleagues, Michael Hunt took part in staging the performance in Perm. Michael |Hunt is one of the first producers who staged an opera in real historical conditions. 300 extras are performing in "Fidelio", they will create a prison atmosphere playing the roles of guards and warders.

"The spectators, together with the Perm Theatre soloists and the orchestra, will travel a long way from the living quarters to the place of imprisonment of Florestan, the main character of the opera," says Georgy Isaakian. Each episode will take place in different spots, depending on the plot - in the work area, in a barrack, in a special regime prison, in an interrogation cell, and so on. As a result, each episode as well as takes us to a different country, a different epoch. It prevents us from fixing on Stalin's time. Our large international team is meant to make our thoughts universal. It is a story written by a German, Beethoven, staged inside the walls of a Soviet prison camp by a British team. This cannot fail to produce the necessary impression of universalism."

The Perm Theatre is planning to show only 7 performances. So, only a little over 1500 people can witness this unprecedented action. They are guaranteed unforgettable impressions.