New Year’s Music and Opera Highlights
With less fear of blockages and disruption from covid, major concert halls in Moscow and St. Petersburg have already set their schedules for the coming year. Here are some highlights for opera and classical music lovers.
Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra celebrates 100 years
The famous Moscow Philharmonic, which gives concerts in several halls of the city including the Tchaikovsky Hall, Philharmonia-2 and the Moscow Conservatory, celebrates its 100th anniversary in early 2022. On January 22 and 23, do not miss the Stars XXI Marathon , which takes place on both days from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. with Russian pianists Alexander Malofeev, Dmitry Masleev and Andrei Gugnin; cellist Alexander Ramm; violinists Nikita Borisoglebsky and Pavel Milyukov. They will be led by Mikhail Tatarnikov, Valentin Uryupin and Dimitris Botinis.
Then, on January 29, the anniversary of the Philharmonic Orchestra, the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory will host the program which was performed on the day the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra opened to the public on January 29, 1922. In a program conducted by conductors Yuri Simonov and Gennady Dmitryak, symphonic works by Scriabin, Taneyev, Beethoven and Ippolitov-Ivanov, as well as Rachmaninov’s “Second Piano Concerto” will be performed by Denis Matsuev, Hibla Gerzmava and Sergey Romanovsky among others.
Book your tickets for this anniversary here.
The oratorio “The Passion of Simone” by Kaija Saariaho at the Novaya Opera
This year, an oratorio by Kaija Saariaho will be performed during the annual Epiphany Festival at the Novaya Opera in Moscow. This Finno-French composer was named best living composer by the New York Times, with the premiere of the opera “Innocence” in Aix-en-Provence in the summer of 2021 and her symphonic creation “Vista” a few months later . While alluding to the tradition of the Passions in Western music, the oratorio chronicles the tragic life of the French religious thinker and philosopher Simone Weil. It will be conducted by Valentin Uryupin, artistic director of the Novaya Opera. Tickets can be purchased here.
In February 2022, “Lohengrin” by Richard Wagner will be premiered as part of the Bolshoi Theater’s collaboration with the Metropolitan Opera. It will be directed by Evan Rogister and directed by François Girard, with the creative team of David Finn (lighting designer), Tim Yip (decorator and costume designer) and Peter Flaherty (video projection) involved in the process.
In 2022, the Bolshoi will also collaborate with famous British director Simon McBurney, who will stage Mussorgsky’s “Khovanshchina” in June, directed by Bolshoi music director Tugan Sokhiev. The creative team includes Rebecca Ringst as set designer and costume designer and Will Duke as video designer. Tickets for the Bolshoi can be purchased here.
While the Bolshoi focuses on the classics, other opera houses give very exciting premieres by composers of the 20th and 21st centuries. In April, Novaya Opera will present the expressionist opera “Die Tote Stadt” (Dead City) by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, directed by Vassily Barkhatov and conducted by Valentin Uryupin. Although a production of this symbolically rich work (written in 1920) could be seen at the Finnish National Opera in 2019, it will be its first performance in Russia.
Last but not least, the Moscow Academic Musical Theater will present the work of the recently deceased Dutch composer Louis Andriessen. And don’t miss the production of Andriessen’s opera “Write to Vermeer” directed by Timur Zangiev and directed by Alexey Smirnov on the theater chamber stage.
International stars on tour
While that may all change as the covid pandemic continues, we hope international celebrity visits to Russia go as planned. Here are some of the most anticipated tours.
Zaryadye Room has a very exciting mix of celebrity nights in 2022. In February, don’t miss the performance of Olivier Latry, professor at the Paris Conservatory and principal organist of Notre Dame de Paris for over 35 years. On March 10, don’t miss the famous British a cappella ensemble “The King’s Singers” founded in 1968 by alumni of King’s College Cambridge and celebrated with numerous honors, including Grammy and Emmy Awards. On March 25, the American soprano superstar Joyce DiDonato presents her new project EDEN accompanied by the chamber orchestra Il Pomo d’Oro (Italy). And in May, Sir John Eliot Gardiner comes to Moscow to perform a baroque music program with the Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists ensemble.
Meanwhile, the Moscow Philharmonic in April will host the famous composer and conductor Thomas Adès, who will create the first part of a two-hour ballet “The Dante Project” (2019-2020) designed in collaboration with Wayne McGregor. In May 2022, the famous Polish tenor Pyotr Bechala will give a solo concert.
Don’t miss either a series of concerts in July 2022 at the Mariinsky Theater: Austrian pianist Rudolph Buchbinder will perform all of Beethoven’s sonatas during eight summer evenings.
Various must-see music festivals
Among the many music festivals coming up this year, we recommend the very interesting World Festival, organized by the Russian National Orchestra and held at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall in June 2022. It will consist of four concerts dedicated to the musical heritage of Italy, Great Britain, Finland and Russia. And each concert will feature works by modern composers, including “Stonework” by Sebastian Fagerlund, “Piano Concerto №3” by James McMillan and the world premiere of “Violin Concerto” by Nicola Campogrande. The concerts will be conducted by Finnish conductor Hannu Lintu, British composer and conductor James McMillan and Russian conductors Sergey Krylov and Kirill Karabits. Composers will be on hand to talk about their work.
James McMillan has also been appointed composer in residence for the 2021/2022 season at the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra and will conduct his own works there in February 2022: “The Confession of Isobel Gowdie” and the Russian premiere of his “Concerto for saxophone. “
Another important festival which brings together the best performers of baroque music in the world is the Georg Friedrich Handel: Festival of Heroes and Anti-Heroes organized by the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra in September 2022. Countertenors Tim Mead, Hugh Cutting, Nussbaum Cohen, Iestyn Davies and Owen Willetts; sopranos Lucy Crowe and Amanda Forsythe; baritone Christopher Purves and many others will perform Handel’s operas “Xerxes”, “Parthenope”, “Agrippina” and the oratorios “Athalia” and “Saul”.
The Mariinsky Theater is also preparing the International Flute Festival in March 2022, the International Harp Festival in April 2022, and its usual annual Stars of White Nights festival (program still unknown but includes numerous guest performances in opera and music) in May-July 2022.