The Novaya Opera TheatreRussian: Teatr «Novaya Opera» or Театр «Новая Опера» is one of the popular modern opera houses in the Russian capital. It was founded in 1991 by the talented conductor Evgeny Kolobov, who managed to breathe new life into this rather traditional genre. The basis of the repertoire are the classic opera masterpieces, performed in Russian, Italian, German, and other languages, including productions of contemporary composers as well as concert programmes and original shows. The theatre is located in the Hermitage GardenRussian: sad "Ermitazh" or сад "Эрмитаж" in the very centre of the city, a 15-minute walk away from the ChekhovskayaRussian: Чеховская metro station.
There is a reason why the theatre is called Novaya Opera“novaya” means “new” in Russian, meaning ‘New Opera’. Its founder Evgeny Kolobov always aimed to do something novel in this genre. Opera is often criticised for the fact that it is boring, far-fetched, even rusty. Kolobov aims to make it bold, daring, innovative, and by no means boring. His successors continue this tradition. The theatre repertoire today comprises 35 performances and 10 concert programmes. They reflect the major vectors of the genre, including classics, baroque and modern opera as well as numerous events in the Morrow FoyerRussian: Zerkalnoe foye or Зеркальное фойе of the theatre, which in many ways functions as an experimental venue for short form plays.
Among the original productions staged under Kolobov’s leadership (1991-2003) are “Oh Mozart! MozartRussian: О, Моцарт, Моцарт…” (since 1995), “La TraviataRussian: Травиата” (since 1996), “Eugene OneginRussian: Евгений Онегин” (since 1996), “Boris GodunovRussian: Борис Годунов” (since 1998), “RigolettoRussian: Риголетто” (since 2000), and “The Snow MaidenRussian: Snegurochka or Снегурочка” (since 2002). They are all new takes of the well-known originals. In “La Traviata”, for example, the commonly used bright colours have been changed to faded dark ones and the heroine comes to a grisly end, a definite departure from the romantic story played elsewhere. The production “Oh Mozart! Mozart…” is a blend of N. Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera “Mozart and SalieriRussian: Моцарт и Сальери” and V. Mozart’s “The RequiemRussian: Реквием”. This piece is unique because choreographer Evgeny Vasiliev integrates elements of ballet into the operatic performance.
The story of the opera performance “Eugene Onegin” is particularly interesting. Evgeny Kolobov decided to stage this production with young singers – i.e., the way the opera was meant to be performed as designed by Tchaikovsky himself (before that it was mainly sung by distinguished opera singers). A few People’s Artists from the K. Stanislavsky and V. Nemirovich-Danchenko Music TheatreRussian: Muzykalnyi teatr im. K.S. Stanislavskogo i Vl. I. Nemirovicha-Danchenko or Музыкальный театр им. К.С. Станиславского и Вл. И. Немировича-Данченко, which Eugeny Kolobov was in charge of from 1987, did not like this idea. Being immovable in his opinions, Kolobov left the theatre, but he didn’t leave alone. Two hundred people (the whole orchestra, the choir, and even the human resources department) followed him. This is how the Novaya Opera began. In its early years, it staged performances only in temporary venues, until it found its permanent place in the Hermitage Garden in 1997.
The theatre founder’s successors do not step aside from Evgeny Kolobov’s traditions, and new productions are also staged in innovative ways. Thus, for example, in “The Marriage of FigaroRussian: Svadba Figaro or Свадьба Фигаро” (2014) there are no typical lush stage sets, historical costumes or interiors – only a white surface, and the stage is placed at 30 degrees. In “The Barber of SevilleRussian: Sevilskiy tsiryulnik or Севильский цирюльник” (2008) the action takes place in the 1920s and the characters are dressed accordingly. In “La BohemeRussian: Bogema or Богема”, the director tries to show the whole of the characters’ life instead of a short period. In the finale, the formerly impoverished artists appear as successful master of the trade with silvery-white hair. Some 30 years set them apart from the events of their youth.
Any opera theatre is made up of three components: a choir, an orchestra, and a conductor. Evgeny Kolobov’s widow Nataliya Popovich has been responsible for the theatre choir since the foundation of the theatre. She is a People’s Artist of Russia and the State Prize of the Russian Federation winner (awarded for the creation of the Novaya Opera theatre). Today in Novaya Opera you can hear the voices of some of the best opera singers in the world.
The Novaya Opera stages performances for children too. One is the musical puppet show “The Cat’s HouseRussian: Koshkin dom or Кошкин дом”, which was rated as as the best children’s play in a musical theatre in 2007. Other plays for children include “Peter and the WolfRussian: Petya i volk or Петя и волк” and “The Ugly DucklingRussian: Gadkiy utyonok or Гадкий утёнок”, which is accompanied by a cartoon in black and white graphics on a huge screen. Another opera intended for children is called “The Child and the SpellsRussian: Ditya i volshebstvo or Дитя и волшебство” by M. Ravel where furniture and toys unexpectedly come to life. The performances are 50-60 minutes long with no interval.
The building which houses the theatre has preserved the looks of the Mirror TheatreRussian: Zerkalnyi teatr or Зеркальный театр (built in 1910) from the outside, where Fyodor Shalyapina Russian opera singer used to star. It was built in the famous theatrical Hermitage Garden created by merchant Y. Shchukin in 1895. The foyer space has 4 levels joined by four Art Nouveau staircases. The auditorium normally seats 660 people, but the number of spectators can extend to 860. The orchestra pit can be converted into a floor, extending the space of the stage. There is a cafeteria on each level of the foyer.© 2016-2018 moscovery.com