Russian Opera Gala

Dedicated to Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Elena Obraztsova

Content by Olga Bramley

Star guest performers – soloists from the Royal Opera House, Mariinsky Opera, St Petersburg, the Bolshoi, Moscow – sing popular Russian and English arias, songs, and romances by famous composers, as well as classical folk songs in this special event, dedicated to Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Elena Obraztsova.

The evening will begin with an exhibition of photographs of Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Elena Obraztsova in the foyer, kindly donated by Elena Obraztsova Centre, the partners in the project, and will be followed by a premiere screening of a moving and profound short film, commissioned by Eurolog UK, and directed by Pavel Soro (Sorofilm), in memory of these great singers, accompanied by the soloist of the Bolshoi Theatre Larisa Rudakova and the British Imperial Orchestra conducted by Dr Graham Jones.

This project is very dear to my heart,” says the organiser of the festival, Olga Bramley, “the focus of the festival on these artists will dominate the mood of the whole evening. Many of the performers have chosen arias and romances performed by Obraztsova and Hvorostovsky. It is quite clear that this project is in great demand and that everybody wants to get involved, the public as well as the artists. The geography of the competition covers fifteen countries, from Russia to the USA.

The programme of the Gala will consist of performances by star-studded list of singers, amongst them artists such as Vasily Gerello (Mariinsky Theatre) and Larisa Rudakova (Bolshoi Theatre), as well as rising stars such as Aigul Akhmetshina (ROH), Costas Smoridinas (ROH) and Evgeny Kungurov (New Opera), who will also be compere for the evening, together with Maria Veretenina, the winner of the Grand Prix of the previous Russian Song Festival and Contest in 2014. 

At the beginning of each part of the Gala these artists will perform arias and romances by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Rimsky-Korsakov, Mussorgsky, Verdi, Puccini, Bizet and other great composers, accompanied by the orchestra. “We were very lucky to meet Dr Graham Jones last summer when he conducted at the Jubilee Russian Charity Ball organized by EUROLOG UK,” says Olga Bramley. “He is a former Senior Director of Music, Household Division, responsible for the music for Royal occasions, and his brilliant orchestra will provide an amazing accompaniment to our wonderful guest performers.”

Guest performers will be followed by the finalists of the international vocal contest in four categories: classical, Russian romances, folk and modern songs.  The main genre of the competition will be classical. “We have received most applications in this category,” explains Olga Bramley, “and we will put through to the final more classical performers than usual. Another wonderful category that brilliantly represents Russian culture is Russian romance, and the music covers the period from the eighteenth century to the present day.  The musical spectrum of the festival is very broad. And when we talk about modern music at our festival it is not rock, but mainly golden hits of the twentieth century, such as songs by Isaak Dunaevsky, Georgy Sviridov.

The panel of judges will be headed by the National Artist of Russia – Larisa Gergieva, (sister of the conductor Valery Gergiev), the Head of the Music Academy at the Mariinsky Theatre. Other well-known judges include Amanda Roocroft, Professor of Vocal Studies at the RCM; Dr. Graham Jones, MBE, the former Royal conductor; the National Artist of Russia, soloist of the Mariinskiy Theatre Vasily Gerello; Larisa Rudakova, Professor at Moscow Conservatoire and Irina Chernova, the Director of the Elena Obraztsova Centre.

The Centre was established by the famous opera singer more than twenty years ago and this centre in St.Petersburg, Russia, now helps many singers around the world. The fund will reward each winner of the first prize in each category with the opportunity to perform a solo concert in St. Petersburg. There also will be medals and money prizes as well as a Grand Prix which will be awarded to the winners at the end of the evening. 

There will be surprises at the festival, one of which will be a romance written by Alexander Naumenko especially for Dmitri Hvorostovsky that he was unable to give to him. It will be performed by the friend and colleague of Dmitri at the Royal Opera House, Costas Smiridinas. Another surprise will be from Larisa Rudakova’s Moscow School of Classical Singing, which will be well represented at the festival. The audience will see an extract from their musical production “The Brave Pirate”, featuring both children and adults. The whole production will be shown at the London School of Russian Language and Literature on 28th April at 11 am.

During the interval there will be a welcoming reception for guests, performers and VIP ticket holders.

Among the guests will be David Jackson, manager and artistic director of the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition, who will be looking for new talented singers at the festival. It was after winning at the Cardiff competition in 1989 that Dmitri Hvorostovsky first won world recognition.

I believe that cultural projects such as ours have a special significance,” says Olga Bramley, “They bring together people of different countries, cultures and generations through music, and commemorate truly historic figures such as Elena Obraztsova and Dmitri Hvorostovsky. I think we should draw on our cultural projects and our cultural heritage to give true meaning to our lives.” Interview by N. Kolosova

Russian Opera Gala

Sunday 29 April, 4.30pm

Finale of the Ninth International Russian Song Festival and Contest, UK.
All proceeds will go to charity.

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