By Alexandr Pushkin
Directed by Igor Berezin
Malenky Theater artistic director Igor Berezin is a minimalist. The set and direction of both plays comprising this program were spare, pared and choreographically precise.
Berezin chose two of the four verse dramas comprising Little Tragediesthat Pushkin wrote in 1830 - "The Stone Guest" and "Mozart and Salieri."
Before Pushkin, Mozart immortalized the story of Don Juan in Don Giovanni, but Pushkin's more austere approach suggests that love is only a disposable social convention. His Don, the very charismatic Dudu Niv, is no charming, heedless libertine, but a coldly amoral egotist who uses words as well as he uses his sword and goes unrepentant to his terrifying end. His soul-mate is the sumptuously voiced and attired Laura (Yelena Fuchs) who arrives onstage in a hedonistically outsized basket of fruit and flowers. But Laura is an interlude. Juan's real prey is Dona Ana (Rinat Hittelman), daughter of the dead Commendatore, and her seduction is accomplished with contemptuous ease.
Ease, grace and the formality of a court dance characterize Berezin's stylized approach to "The Stone Guest" that contrasts effectively with the naturalism of "Mozart and Salieri". In it Niv - here and there a little self-indulgently - plays Salieri, anguished that the genius he has pursued devotedly all his life has been bestowed on someone so patently unworthy as Mozart, beautifully underplayed by Dima Ross. Salieri, who is both narrator and antagonist, poisons Mozart, but in the act is himself destroyed.
Effectively distorted by Yevgeny Levitas, Mozart's "Requiem" underpins this sad tale of great love and greater loss.
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