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Tuesday, July 10, 2007


The Riga Opera Festival 2007 was held on June 6 - 17 and marks the 10th anniversary of it highly successful, internationally acclaimed summer festival. Once again, it offered an exciting program of opera and concert at the closing of the Latvian National Opera's sesson. The festival was founded in June 1998 to showcase the new productions of the season together with favourite productions of previous sesson in a festive, exceptional atmosphere.
During the past ten years, the Riga Opera Festivals has established itseld as an outstanding celebration of cultural life in Latvia and abroad. While in the first year the festival attracted mostly a Latvian audience, this operatic event soon caught the attention of opera lovers from all over the world and quickly developed into a truly international festival.
The Riga Opera Festival 2007 is the first one ever to open with a world premiere: 'Joseph is a Fruitful Bough' by Latvian composer Eriks Esenvalds is based on the Biblical story of Joseph and his brothers. The festival also featured two performances of Richard Wagner's "Die Walkure" and other performaces:

Directed by Gatis Smits
It is an opera in 2 acts performed by the soloists of the Latvian National Opera, State Chorus Latvia, and the chamber music ensembles Altera Veritas and Shady Brass Q. "The tale of Joseph and his kin comes from a distant, ancient darkness. But it is not the light of a candle which makes the tale accessible to us. These are the pages of the bible - black letters on white paper. This tale is full of aspiration and fear. This is a tale about predestination, jealousy, love, endurance, forgiveness. We can not turn back time. We can not talk to Joseph about him and his life. But when we regard his tale, we realize that its emotional conflicts are everlasting. The same things that Joseph experienced we experience over and over again today."

LA TRAVIATA By Giuseppe Verdi
Directed by Andrejs Zagars
"Our Traviata takes place in Paris after the 2nd World War. This is the time when people tried to forget the death, blood and losses, to heal the recent wounds and to enjoy life with a great ardor once again."

THE QUEEN OF SPADES BY Piotr Tchaikovsky
Directed by Andrejs Zagars
Zagars' Queen of Spades is superb in its own right. The updating to today's St. Petersburg, with its milieu of neuveau riche, drug dealers, business sharks, secret agents, social climbers and impoverished masses, is meticulously constructed and absolutely consistent. There's even room for the Countess, an aging aristocrat reclaiming her ravaged palace after a lifetime of exile. The cockiness, instability, and heady superficiality of this tenuous society make the perfect setting for Tchaikovsky's drama of obsession and passion.

LADY MACBETH OF MTSENSK by Dmitry Shostakovich
Directed by Andrejs Zagars
The same as for Shostakovich, for me Katerina is no Lady Macbeth - a cold-blooded murderess who arranges her life across the corpeses of her fellow human beings. She is a victim - another one of those countless lives broken by absurdity of this existence in Mtensk. I see her as the embodiment of a fragile feminity, ground down by a rough, callous "men's" world. This does not however exonerate Katerina - she is a tragic figure, mudering others she essentially murders herself. As the director's said, "Because this women is psychologcally so close and understandable for us, I wanted to bring her even closer, for example, story-wise. That why we transported the action today." Actually this is a well trodden path. In the last 15 years when greater part of the former Soviet Union returns to the capitalism path and private business, trade. banking, mortgages, shares, flower, theatres rediscover with great satisfaction the plays of Ostrocsky and Saltikhov-Schedrin, which mirror the development of capitalism in the second half of the 19th century.

LA VOIX HUMAINE by Francis Poulenc
Directed by Laurent Pelly
Poulenc's tour de force monologue, 'La Voix Humaine' presents an emotional portrait of a women devastated by the end of an affair. By turns vulnerable, self-possessed, and distraught, the heroine holds the stage alone in a work with as much emotional power as a full-scale opera.

DIE WALKURE by Richard Wagner
Directed by Viesturs Kairiss
Love, the exential power of passion, arresting in its beauty, fatal in its hopelessness, is the leading motive of the ontologically romantic spirit of the production, as is the idea of the world as a place of a metaphysical battle. This battle is fought on a football field, an all-embracing, universal ground of pasion where the sacred meets the profane and the modern meets the archaic. The settings range from intimate, private spaces to an arena that auggests Romeo's Coliseum as much as a sports stadium - a tragedy, or possibly even the Celtic game of brain-ball which was played with the enemies' severed heads.

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