Dmitry Bertman, Artistic Director of Helicon Opera Theatre: Open-air opera

Dmitry Bertman, Artistic Director of Helicon Opera Theatre: Open-air opera
Russian theatre will be the main theme of city events next year.

The first open-air performances by Moscow theatres will begin very soon: 10 theatrical venues of the Journey to Christmas festival will be open from 31 December to 2 January on Tverskaya and adjoining streets.

Streets, boulevards and squares will keep morphing into theatre stages next year. Next summer, Moscow may host an opera festival featuring Moscow theatre actors and ballet dancers. The idea belongs to Dmitry Bertman, Artistic Director of the Helicon Opera Theatre. He spoke to about which places in Moscow could become opera scenery.

Dmitry Bertman, Artistic Director of the Helicon Opera Theatre

Question: In your opinion, what does this choice of a theme for city events next year mean?

Dmitry Bertman: Moscow is a leading global theatre centre. Tourists coming to Moscow go to the theatre first. This is our capital’s image. That is why I am very enthusiastic about introducing theatre performances to the programme of city events.

Some places all around the world transform city areas into stages for theatre performances. It is great that Moscow adopts this practice, and it is great that we have this opportunity.

Question: Do you already have ideas about which performances may be staged outdoors?

Dmitry Bertman: I can say that our theatre has already prepared pilot projects in this area. In recent years, we have staged several opera shows in Kolomenskoye, with historical landmarks as scenery, and in the Moscow Region.

Moscow has amazing historical areas where operas and ballets would look especially interesting. Boris Godunov, an opera by Modest Mussorgsky, would look fantastic on Red Square. The gothic architecture in Tsaritsyno can be a perfect setting for Iolanta and Swan Lake by Pyotr Tchaikovsky, and the new and unique Zaryadye Park with its magnificent views of the Kremlin and Moscow can serve as a stage for operas by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.

Railway stations and the metro is another subject. I have a lasting dream to set a series of night concerts in the Moscow Metro: it hosted such concerts during the Great Patriotic War. Last year, we took the first step: a concert version of the opera Cavalleria Rusticana (Rustic Chivalry) by Pietro Mascagni was staged at Kropotkinskaya metro station. Moscow railway stations are landmarks with beautiful halls and fantastic acoustics. We could also stage some performances there.

Question: Do you have any ideas yet about the opera festival?

Dmitry Bertman: We are discussing now if it is possible to hold it next summer. The season is important: actors can only work outside if the air temperature is good, because the vocal cords cannot stand the cold. Moscow music theatres, such as the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Music Theatre, Novaya Opera, the Helicon Opera Theatre and even the Moscow Operetta Theatre, can participate in it. We can also think about inviting foreign opera and ballet stars, so that the festival would be an international event and increase Moscow’s tourist appeal.

Question: Are you considering parks and estates as opera festival venues, or will we be able to listen to the performances on squares and boulevards?

Dmitry Bertman: Every year, we give open-air performances – at Patriarshye Ponds, on boulevards, Vasilyevsky Spusk and in Park Pobedy – on City Day. However, it is difficult to seriously consider a boulevard as a festival venue. A venue for opera singers should be energetically built to hold the public’s attention and to concentrate. Classical music cannot simply sound in the background, it requires concentration.

I think we can do something at the renovated VDNKh pavilions. And Ploshchad City would serve perfectly for staging musicals; it can even become our Moscow Broadway.