‘Alpamys’ opera named premiere of the year
NUR-SULTAN. KAZINFORM - The premiere of Yerkegali Rakhmadiyev’s national opera Alpamys, dedicated to the 30th anniversary of Kazakhstan’s Independence, stirred a great interest within the musical community. On December 3 and 4, foreign and domestic music critics highly praised the classical opera gem, presented at Astana Opera under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture and Sports. The creative team breathed new life into the production, which turned out to be in tune with the audience’s modern requirements, Kazinform has learnt from the Astana Opera’s press service.
A completely unexpected take on the national classics presented in the fantasy style was, perhaps, the first experience in the entire history of the development of Kazakh opera art. What is more, it turned out to be successful!
The production turned out to be technological, with a rich visual part, and therefore was perceived by the audience as a full-length feature film being performed live. The work of the Italian projection designer Sergio Metalli played an important role in this. Thanks to his skill, the fire blazed onstage, birds flew, and amazing images of the steppe nature and khan’s palaces came to life. Sofya Tasmagambetova and Pavel Dragunov’s sets and costumes differed from the style of the previous 7 works they have designed at Astana Opera. They found interesting solutions for the fantasy opera and introduced complex set elements into the production, among which there was a huge multifunctional canvas, impressive with its transformations. Four hundred costumes conveyed various meanings: here is the enemy tribe of Taishyq Khan, depicted in dark colours, and here are the bright national costumes that convey the national flavour. Overall, the entire performance was full of symbolism, the main symbol being the sword that Mother Earth gives to Alpamys to defeat the enemy.
Despite the fact that there are many heroic episodes in Kauken Kenzhetayev’s libretto, lyrical themes prevailed over the battles and conquests, and the tender scenes of love of the main characters evoked the greatest sympathy in the director Yuri Alexandrov’s vision. In this sense, the duets of Alpamys, Gulbarshin, Qarakoz turned out to be strong.
The key character in this work, Mother Earth, is a symbol of holiness, which gave scale to the entire production, and it became clear that this was no longer an opera about everyday life. Elements of mythology associated with the heroic deeds of the batyr, who brings people happiness and gives hope for a bright future, echoed to some extent with real life, in which even today there is still room for great achievements.
Another find of the stage director was that the plot narration was led by the Zhyrau-storyteller, performed by Yerlan Ryskali. The director has done a tremendous job with the performers who have gotten into their characters so seamlessly that they demonstrated new facets of their talents. Yerzhan Saipov and Rassul Zharmagambetov brilliantly presented the title role of Alpamys. The singers’ young, charismatic energy was transmitted to the audience, and the artists did an excellent job with their vocal and acting tasks. In this production, Yuri Alexandrov widely expanded on the theme of women on the example of four characters. Qarakoz – the incredible soprano Saltanat Akhmetova and the promising singer Assem Sembina – accomplished a feat for the sake of unrequited love. The singers presented their heroine with a truly Shakespearean dramatic flair.
Aigul Niyazova and Zhamilya Jarkimbayeva portrayed Gulbarshyn. Each singer had her own love story, wonderful artists experienced all the hardships and pains of fate. The third female magical character – Mystan – was expressively performed by Bibigul Zhanuzak and Gulzhanat Sapakova. Mother Earth – Saltanat Muratbekova, Tatyana Vitsinskaya – splendidly performed a difficult role at a six-metre height.
Zhanat Shybykbayev and Shyngys Rassylkhan conveyed the villainous character Taishyq Khan very believably; the audience gave credit to his mercilessness. Keiquat – Alikhan Zeinolla, Ablai Beken, Qaraman – Beimbet Tanarykov, Ultan – Ramzat Balakishiyev also performed their parts well.
A truly theatrical composer Yerkegali Rakhmadiyev’s exquisite music was full of subtexts and nuances. Performed by the Astana Opera Symphony Orchestra under the baton of the music director and conductor Abzal Mukhitdin, who did a titanic work on the score, it gained intricate new colours. Mass scenes featuring the choir and ballet looked innovative and dynamic in this production. Each movement was well thought out by the production team, which includes the principal choirmaster Yerzhan Dautov and choreographers Tursynbek Nurkaliyev and Galiya Buribayeva.
The musical part of the opera was presented at the highest level, probably also because the consultant was the composer’s daughter, Nailya Rakhmadiyeva.
The strong, well-constructed finale, in which Alpamys breaks out of captivity, overthrows the dictator, and the good wins over the evil, was truly triumphant. The production ran through in one breath, and, according to the theatregoers, was acknowledged as the premiere of the year.