Valery Gergiev directs the Kirov Opera and Ballet in this dramatic staging of Tchaikovsky’s historical opera, based on Pushkin’s verse tale of the legendary Cossack chieftain. Tchaikovsky’s dark musical setting intertwines the political drama of Mazeppa’s ill-fated betrayal of the Tsar with the personal tragedy of his love for Maria, the young daughter of his hapless opponent, Kocubej.
Set in the exotic surroundings of the Ottoman Empire and with a narrative encompassing abduction, murder and shipwreck, Le Corsaire is a swashbuckling pirate drama that delights for its spectacular nature and which includes some of the most bravura male dancing in the ballet repertoire. The work’s evolution has been a complex one, its libretto and choreography subject to numerous revisions since its first appearance in Paris in 1856, and in this English National Ballet production – the first British staging of the work – former-ballerina-turned-choreographer Anna-Marie Holmes adapts the 1974 Petipa-Sergeyev Kirov version to create ‘brisk, stylish entertainment’ (Guardian) that is visually enhanced by Hollywood designer Bob Ringwood’s ‘superb’ (Daily Telegraph) Orientalist sets and costumes. First-rate dancing by the company and its soloists – including Alina Cojocaru’s ‘radiant performance’ as Medora (Independent), Yonah Acosta’s ‘vividly drawn and villainous’ Birbanto (Financial Times) and Vadim Muntagirov’s ‘compelling’ (Daily Telegraph) portrayal of Conrad – underscores the ‘roaring, madcap success’ (Financial Times) of this production.
The classic Mariinsky (Kirov) production of the greatest of all ballets. Filmed in the imperial splendor of the Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg. Starring Ulyana Lopatkina, Danila Korsuntsev and the breathtaking Mariinsky corps de ballet. Conducted by the great Russian maestro Valery Gergiev.
“Gergiev conducts a sweeping performance, with a typically superb cast of the Kirov's revival years, full of rising stars - Diadkova, Ognovenko, Bezzubenkov and the superb character tenor Gassiev. Charming also is the staging, reproduced from airy, painterly 1920s sets. Museum opera, maybe; but then museums are there to preserve treasures. And this is an absolute gem.”(Music Magazine)
In terms of vocal power, lyrical beauty and idiomatic authenticity, the casting for this 1992 live recording of the Kirov production of Pique Dame ("The Queen of Spades") could hardly be bettered. Gegam Grigorian (Herman) hits his fearsome, anguished high notes with the accuracy of a laser and Maria Gulegina (Liza) has a voice the size of the QEII but uses it with great subtlety–her opening duet with Pauline floats like gossamer, and her declarations of love for Herman at the end of Act 1 are spine-tingling. Kirov superstars Sergei Leiferkus (Tomsky) and rich-toned Olga Borodina (Pauline) also sound divine.
Valery Gergiev directs the Kirov Opera and Ballet in this magnificent 1998 production of Borodin’s "Prince Igor", presented in a new Mariinsky Theatre performing edition and featuring Mikhail Fokine’s original choreography in the famous Polovtsian Dances. Its four acts tell of the struggle between the Russians and Polovtsian nomads, of Prince Igor’s capture and escape from his noble opponent, Khan Konchak, and of love between Igor’s son, Vladimir, and Konchak’s daughter, Konchakovna.
Modest Mussorgsky's opera in prologue and four acts is performed by the Kirov Opera with performances from Olga Borodina, Alexei Steblianko and Sergei Leiferkust. Boris Godunov has obtained the throne of Russia by murdering the rightful heir Dmitry. An old monk, Pimen, witnessed this, and convinces his apprentice Grigory to avenge Dmitry's death. In the following years Grigory poses as Dmitry, raising an army against Boris, who is now convinced that he is being punished for the murder.
There is not much to fault in this quintessentially Russian opera with the lavish staging and fantastic costumes surely a feat to the eye. You cannot find much fault on the musical side of things either as many have expressed their opinion that this remains the finest version of the opera by a mile. The charismatic and almost demonic Gergiev conducts with his systematic, unabated passion for music which is most certainly in his blood and his players definitely do him proud. The cast is also top notch on all counts with Netrebko and Gorchakova particularly impressive.