Interview

A director must be sincere

June 10, 2017

Alexey Smirnov, the winner of the international young opera directors competition Nano-Opera, who received a special diploma from the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet theatre, is now invited to pass training at the tehatre. In the next season, the RSUTA (GITIS) graduate is planning to stage his new work at NOVAT. Alexey shared with us his thoughts on being an opera director.

- Alexey, what have you heard of the Novosibirsk opera before?

- For me, the Novosibirsk opera is connected to the early works of Dmitry Chernyakov, especially his reading of Aida, which has become a significant performance, a milestone of contemporary music directing. Also, it makes me think of Teodor Currentzis and Igor Zelensky, who spent a lot of time successfully working at the theatre. The Opera and Ballet theatre is known for one of the best opera companies in the country, hosting A-list celebrities. And of course we are all aware of the incredible size of the main stage.

- What is interesting about staging an opera performance at our theatre?

- Together with Vyacheslav Starodubtsev we are discussing staging the performance in Isidor Zaks hall. Its got very interesting space, the architecture of the stage is unusual and consequently, inspiring. But the most interesting thing for me is interaction with the artists of the theatre. I love rehearsals and its always a pleasure for me to meet new artists.

- What do you like about directing music theatre?

- Most of all I like working with the matter of time. In opera performances it feels different, its specified in the score by the conductor. He imbues it with his personal vision, while the director accepts it as given. And this musical current contains everything, so the director jumps into that river and goes with the stream. One can always notice when the director tries to paddle against the current and generally fails in the end.

The most interesting and challenging things for me as a music theatre director are to sort out the score, find all that you need for the production and make your best to express the conflicts supposed by the conductor (sometimes they dont match with the libretto).

- Describe the perfect opera performance that will get full house and critical acclaim.

- Actually, I dont know how to do that. The performances that meet my criteria can be very different. As well as the performances which I like, and which get the full house, but dont get appreciated by the critics or the other way around.

A director must be really sincere. Must be true and frank with himself. He must catch everyone in the theatre with his idea and then probably the audience will feel it too. But in a real life it happens different ways. I cant think of one universal recipe.

- If you were not limited in style and money, what kind of opera would you create?

- There is a number of performances that I would like to stage. They are mostly of well known titles. Though, your conditions make me think of an opera unstageable in Russia given the usual circumstances.

I like very much the opera Nixon in China by a contemporary minimalist composer John Adams. I can hardly imagine who can now stage in Russia an opera about an American president making an official visit in China. However I love this work, because it represents one of the ways the modern opera moves. This is a completely different approach to history and apart from all of that, its a brilliant music material.