Boris Godunov, a grandiose Russian operatic epic by Mussorgsky that chronicles the rise and fall of tsar Boris Godunov and his reign of terror against the nobility (boyars) and the common people, is the next production of the Israeli Opera.
There will be literally hundreds of participants on stage of the production of this opera, which is as relevant today as it was when Godunov was on the throne. The opera is directed by Friedrich Meyer-Oertel and is conducted in turn by Keri Lynn Wilson and Frederic Chaslin. The cast is a mixture of international stars and Israeli singers, many of them of Russian extraction.
For the Tel Aviv Opera House, Boris Godunov is a special piece. In 1994, it was the inaugural opera of the newly opened Tel Aviv Per forming Arts Center (TAPAC). And that is why it is so special for Georgian bass Paata Burchuladze, who per formed the title role and now returns to Tel Aviv to reprise the part.
“I’ve per formed Boris about 170 times all over the world.
Psychologically, this is the most challenging role, and you can never say, ‘Now I’ve reached its ultimate interpretation’ because the character is so rich and deep. Ever y time, you reveal new facets – in his attitude to the people, to boyars and even to Shuisky. Those who may remember me singing Boris in 1994 are welcome to compare it with my current rendition of the role – and I hope I’ve advanced,” laughs Burchuladze.
The charismatic singer, a frequent guest on Israeli stages, who appears in productions in Tel Aviv and in the larger-than-life Masada opera festival shows, as well as in recitals, recalls that for him, Godunov was his first operatic role in Israel.
“Before that, I only sang in recitals with soprano [Ljuba] Kazarnovskaya, after which I was invited to per form at the Opera House opening,” he says.
He has nothing but praise for the Tel Aviv Opera House: “This is one of the most important opera houses around, with top-quality productions only. The standards of the management are always high, with not a single weak link in the chain,” he obser ves.
Despite his globetrotting career, Burchuladze has never lost contact with his native Georgia and always supports it in troubled times. Nine years ago, he and his friends founded a charitable organization to support orphans of the civil war in Georgia, as well as families who lost their property and were unable to raise their children. The organization, poetically called Yavnana (“lullaby” in Georgian), was inaugurated at a gala concert at TAPAC..
“I’ve just returned from Tbilisi,” says the singer,” where Yavnana had a special concert dedicated to the memor y of Georgian actress/singer Sofiko Chiaureli, known not only for her talent but also for her charitable activities.
The concert took place on March 3, when Mother’s Day is traditionally celebrated in Georgia.
At the concert, four large families received keys to their new homes and apartments. Among those who receive financial support from Yavnana are also 129 orphans, who lost their parents in the latest war between Russia and Georgia, and 31 students. The scholarships allow them to continue their studies. The concert was broadcast live on TV and, as a result, about 120,000 viewers called Yavnana, many of them offering financial support.”
And how is musical life in Tbilisi these days? “Not so much opera, since the opera house is closed for renovations and is scheduled to reopen only next year, but still, there are many concerts. We Georgians are ver y musical people, and it’s impossible to imagine Georgia without music,” he says.
Burchuladze, who comes to Israel at least once ever y two years, confides, “I love the Israeli public. I adore them. I remember that I was here during the Second Gulf Wa r, and the opera management told us that if we felt insecure, we were free to leave. And indeed, several soloists immediately packed their bags. But I stayed, partly out of curiosity. And it was worth ever y moment of it. Despite the war, the shows were sold out, and ever y night people filled the hall, bringing their gas masks with them. Can you imagine such a thing in any other place in the world?” he laughs.Boris Godunov runs at TAPAC on March 13 – 29, with a half-hour lecture prior to each performance.
For more details: www.israelopera.co.il.
For tickets, call (03) 692-7777.
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