Vladimir Kekhman, the head of two Russian Opera theatres (Mikhailovsky and NOVAT) commented on media reports about him taking a parental leave for three years - child care leave, to be precise. Is it truth or just rumors?
- Vladimir Abramovich, is it true that you took child care leave for the whole three years?
- Three years? This is clearly a lie. I am now officially on my nursing leave, that’s true, but only at the Novosibirsk theatre. The Ministry of Culture and the Minister are aware of that, we agreed that it’s temporary. I’ve already come to Russia, and I still can return at any moment.
During those two years, that I’ve been heading NOVAT, I lacked establishing new contacts and links. Now in France I’m catching up. I can say that in the nearest future, on 4th July to be precise, I will head to Aix-en-Provence to see the “Carmen” premier staged Dmitry Chernyakov. All famous opera theatre managers and directors will be there. Before that I saw “The Snow Maiden” in Paris, staged again by Chernyakov.
I’ve also seen the amazing “Tannhäuser” in Munich (conducted by Kirill Petrenko). By the way, he will take charge of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. In The Opéra de Nice I’ve been to “Rigoletto” conducted by Roland Ber. In September/October of this year he will also conduct two performances at the Mikhailovsky – “Un Ballo in Maschera” and “The Magic Flute”. And moreover, I’m planning to convince him to work in Novosibirsk.
- Could you please specify your current location?
- I’m not in Saint-Tropez. I am currently at my friend’s place, in Villefranche.
- It is strange when a man responsible for two big opera theatres leaves for a childcare. Maybe it’s health problems with the child or mother? You can afford a nurse, even several ones.
- We have no nurses. We raise the child ourselves. This came totally out of blue. We planned to have a baby in Russia, and in February my wife flew to her friend in France to get an additional medical report, to ask French doctors about the pregnancy, it’s her first child. Almost right after the appointment she was admitted to pregnancy maintenance – a serious threat of miscarriage. So Ida got grounded, almost stuck to bed through 28th March. She even got a visa to stay at the hospital. The baby was born premature, a small girl – two and a half kilogram, lost two hundred grams during several days.
- I’m happy for the child and her parents. But we want to know how you manage to keep the two theatres functional? And how can we trust Snezhana Lyubar that you left acting on your behalf in Novosibirsk? It is known that she was the head of HR department in a big beer company and has no experience in theatre business.
- She doesn’t have to. She is responsible for the employees and I trust her. I have a great artistic team at NOVAT – musical director Dmitry Yurovsky, stage director Vyacheslav Starodubtsev. This year we premiered six shows. In June the theatre made a record breaking income of all its history – more than nineteen million rubles. It’s seven million more than the previous year and fifteen million more than the theatre made in June for the whole years Mezdrich was in charge (Boris Mezdrich – the previous Director General – M. R.).
- Then why do you get all these charges if thing are going that well?
- It’s about total incompetence of the honorable city council of Novosibirsk represented by Anna Tereshkova. And by the way, it was the City Council who asked the theatre to take part in a big concert – it was held on a square next to the theatre and was conducted by Mikhail Tatarnikov from the Mikhailovsky theatre. And in two days the city council granted a thank-you note for taking part in this project.
- Vladimir Abramovich, when are you coming back anyway?
- On 8th July I will take part in Ministry of Culture Board at Tsarskoe Selo. We will close the opera season in Novosibirsk with Veronika Dzhioeva gala concert and on the same day we will plant the Walk of Fame in front of the theatre. Right after that I set off to the festival in Munich to see the “Lady Macbeth” premiere. 2 – 9 August I will work at Les Chorégies d'Orange festival in France and Salzburg, Austria. On 2nd August we will watch “Aida” at Orange with Paata Burchuladze. I have been on a beautiful gala concert dedicated to the 50 years of Plácido Domingo’s artistic life. I’ve been to London for the “Don Carlos” premiere. In conclusion I may say that I’ve set up the schedules for both theatres up to 2020.
- Your employees come to you in Villefranche?
- Why would they? We work through video conference. In September we put up Nacho Duato’s ballet “Nutcracker” in Novosibirsk, we met in Berlin. We have also finished negotiations with Jurgen Flimm from Berlin Opera about “Falstaff” performance in the Mikhailovsky theatre.
- How is your child now?
- Anastasiya will be three months on 3rd of July. I repeat, we have no nurses. We do our best to nurse her, to protect. She currently weighs 5 kilos.